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.