out of Five
Running time: 115
Overblown, badly written, poorly edited and just downright boring, this is, in a word, Riddickulous. Good special effects, though.
Writer/director David Twohy’s 2000 film Pitch Black was an imaginative, efficient, smartly directed sci-fi flick that was a surprise hit and picked up a sizeable cult following to boot.
It is also the film responsible for introducing gravel-voiced action hero Vin Diesel to the world and as a result he’s on record as saying he wants to make two more Riddick movies if Chronicles is a success. Sadly, however, he may not get the chance, because The Chronicles of Riddick is something of a disaster on several levels, despite the occasional good moment.
Dick Riddick Returns…
Diesel is back as Richard B. Riddick, which means his name is Dick Riddick, but everyone just calls him Riddick – indeed, the cast say his name so often that it sounds like they’re doing bad frog impressions. The action picks up five years after the events of Pitch Black and Riddick is on the run from some bounty hunters lead by Nick Chinlund’s feral-looking Toombs.
However, it turns out that they’ve been paid to bring him to another surviving cast member from Pitch Black (Keith David), who implores Riddick to fight the Necromongers, a race of marauding aliens who are almost entirely like the Borg, except with better dress sense.
Frankly, from this point on, things get a bit confusing, not to say downright stupid. There’s a planet called Crematoria, which has 700 degree heat and at one point Riddick saves himself from a fatal burning by throwing a flask of water over himself (an unintentional comic highlight).
There’s also a cute child who asks Riddick to save the world “for the children” and Riddick eventually turns out to be a Furion (that’s right, a Furion – fury-on, geddit?), an ancient race of warriors who, conveniently, are the only ones capable of besting a Necromonger.
Laughably Bad Throughout
The dialogue is both clumsy and laughably bad throughout, which is the shame, as the film has an intriguing cast who do their best. In particular, Alexa Davalos (‘ElectroGirl’ from Angel) makes a suitably kick-ass female lead as Kyra (the kid from Pitch Black all growed up) and Thandie Newton vamps it up to pleasing effect.
Judi Dench is also in there somewhere, floating about and offering sage advice, but this only serves to make you wish it was a mismatched buddy cop type of sci-fi film and Dench had been allowed to kick ass too. (“Diesel. Dench. Together at last…” etc.).
Aside from the silly names and the insufferably overblown, Dune-like plot, the worst thing about the film is the action scenes, which are all so confusingly edited that you can’t tell who’s hitting who. That said, the CGI effects are very impressive, particularly on the planets and spaceships – all the effort clearly went into the overall design rather than the script or direction.
Sadly, all the best moments are unintentionally laughable, such as Riddick killing someone with a Tin Cup Of Death, or the sudden appearance of a random CGI Dog Beast, just to liven things up a bit. In short, The Chronicles of Riddick is strictly for sci-fi nerds and fans of bad movies in general. Avoid.