Chronicles of Riddick dir. by

6 May 2006

Genre: ,
Script: ,
Cast: , , , , ,
Rated :

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I’m a big fan of Pitch Black, that low budget horror in space. And I used to be a big fan of Vin Diesel’s but recent film-roles have made me all a bit meh. Still, I’m surprised it took me this long to get around to watching this film, but I finally caved and got the dvd last week. And I’m not too disapointed that I waited so long, because to be honest this film is trying so hard to be something that it isn’t.

I’m not sure why they bothered to keep the name of Riddick, marketing I suppose. Because this film is totally unrelated to the original. The universe we are shown in Chronicles is totally unlike that of Pitch Black, and the characters are also pretty unrecognisable, those few who actually survived the first film.

But lets ignore all that and try to treat Chronicles as though it were a standalone film, with no history.

It is a sci-fi film, one of those with the clichéd army of evil. Here in the form of Necromongers, an army who are trying to convert or kill all the planets of the universe in order to reach their promised land, the Under-verse. It tries to get out of the stereotype by having this evil army do battle, not with good, but with a “different sort of evil”. Trouble is it doesn’t really work, because in this film Riddick isn’t really all that evil. Sure he kills people but what action hero doesn’t? And everyone he kills here was actually trying to kill him first. Fair enough I suppose, maybe the ending of PB really did change him.

Overall this is a question of style over substance. Style over story. And style over characters.

And yes, it all looks great. In a “look at all our cool spaceships”. And they try and make this intricate back story about the Necromongers and the Furyans (I don’t really care how it should be spelled), and invents this reason why Riddick is so great at killing. But it just doesn’t work for me. None of the characters have even half the presence of those in PB. I did quite enjoy Karl Urban’s Vaako, but not enough to make up for the rest of the film’s shortcomings.

It is an average enough film. Nothing spectacularly bad about it, but nothing great either. Though I’ve heard that the director’s cut makes it a better film overall. I can’t say, I watched the theatrical cut.

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9 Responses

  1. Carl V. says:

    I didn't think it was great when I saw it in the theatre but I liked it in that 'cult classic', Rutger Hauer-ish sort of way. I have a friend who owns the director's cut and says the same thing you say but I haven't ever been in the mood to watch it again so that says something about the film. It hasn't changed my feelings about Vin as I still enjoy him but then again I haven't seen his most recent films. xXx sold me on him and I liked him in that family comedy he did recently…can't recall the name right now. Chronicles is definitely a film in which you look and wonder what more could have been done with the obviously large amount of money they spent on it.

  2. Fence says:

    I think you are right Carl, it isn't great but it is sorta likeable. xXx was a fun, if trashy film, but I really disliked The Pacifier and some of his other film choices haven't been terrible, but they haven't been good either.

    Maybe the reason I didn't like this as much is the fact that PB was such a great film, whereas this fell short in so many departments.

  3. Carl V. says:

    I would agree that they didn't feel like the same films. They could have made this a stand alone sci-fi film not in that world but they were of course trying to cash in on the success of Pitch Black.

  4. Mal says:

    I saw Chronicles of Riddick before I saw Pitch Black and I was blown away. A lot of what you say about CoR in your review is fair enough (preposterous story, style over substance, Riddick hyped up as evil and turns out to be a bit sullen) but somehow the film rises above all its faults.

    I even think there's a certain pleasure to be taken in a sci-fi where the galaxy created is rather papier-mache. There's a soap-bubble lightness about such a creation. Flash Gordon, for instance. The worlds of Riddick have no great substance or believability. And the names! Helios, Crematoria, Necromongers…someone must have spent all of ten minutes thinking up those.

    But somehow it works, this stylized universe. It draws me into it, anyway. And it is SO stylish. I think Riddick is the best-looking film I've ever seen; visually they've created something totally original and austerely beautiful.

    The Necromongers are a fascinating creation, better than the Borg in Star Trek because they are not quite as ruthless and mechanial, they have a code of honour and retain personalities of their own.

    As for Pitch Black, when I eventually got round to seeing it, it was as bad as I expected, just a very dull action flick. Riddick was much more ambitious. And I have to disagree about its characters…neither of the films have very vivid or subtle characters, but Riddick makes up for it by having a vivid and original style. Pitch Black is just a budget Alien.

  5. Fence says:

    Ah now, come on. PB is a classic of the low budget horror. Yes it has shades of Alien, but Alien's a classic so shades are permitted.

    COR was too much style. But I did enjoy it, it just shouldn't have been proclaimed sequel to PB because it wasn't.

  6. NineMoons says:

    Could not disagree more with the dismissal of Pitch Black. PB is perfect horror. It's one of my all-time favourite films with some brilliant characters. The Riddick of CoR was a terrible disappointment. The Riddick of PB was a complex killer, ultimately redeemed (at least partially) by a noble sacrifice. The Riddick of CoR was more like a dark-ish superhero. I already deja-d that vu.

  7. Fence says:

    Just to clarify, although I'm sure you already know this NM, I'm not dismissing PB. It is a classic and one of my favourite films. Its shades of Alien do not detract from its greatness.

    Clarfication ends :)

  8. NineMoons says:

    Yep, I already knew that. :-) I was disagreeing with MAL and agreeing with you. How astonishing… ;-)

  9. Mal says:

    They always gang up on me. If we were at school you'd corner me in the yard, wouldn't you? Wouldn't you? And possibly have a cruel nickname for me.

    Actually, Fence, I think the director's cut is worse than the theatrical. It's only a few added minutes but it introduces a new character who adds nothing to the story, except more confusion.