The Chronicles of Riddick

2004

A sequel to Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick picks up five years later with the title character Riddick (Vin Diesel) on the run from bounty hunters. He eludes their capture and escapes to Helion Prime, a rather peaceful planet finding itself under attack by a Borg-mentality cult called the Necromongers lead by the Lord Marshall (Colm Feore: Paycheck, Chicago) who is a new form of the undead. He and his fascist followers are intent on conquering all worlds and assimilating their people into his system, on somewhat of an intergalactic crusade: either they convert, or die. Meanwhile, Riddick reencounters Imam (Keith David, reprising his role from the first film) who had the bounty placed on Riddick’s head based on the prediction of Aeron (Judi Dench: Chocolat), a member of the phantasmic Elemental race who can glide and disappear at will (but can’t manage to use this skill to escape captors or shackles later on). She tells Riddick that because of his heritage of the nearly wiped out Furion race, only he can help save the galaxy from the Necromongers (Think Dune and Star Wars meet the Matrix). The problem is that Riddick wants no part of this rescue mission and like Greta Garbo, all he wants is to be left alone.

Inevitably, Riddick learns the fate of the first film’s only other survivor, Jake-- now Kyra (Alexa Davalos: Angel) and arranges himself to be captured so he can rescue her from a scorching planet aptly named Crematoria. I am not sure exactly what the purpose of her role is, except to give Diesel a reason to kick ass. When we last saw her she was a naďve teenager, but now is all grown up and a tough hottie, however she’s not as hot as DameVaako played by Thandie Newton (Gridlock’d, Mission Impossible: 2). Clad in rococo gowns and kohl-sodden eyes, the Dame surreptitiously encourages her husband Commander Vaako (Karl Urban: Lord of the Rings trilogy), second in command to the Lord Marshall, in a Lady Macbeth fashion. Together, the two quietly plot to usurp power and rule the Underverse.

The movie starts out a little slow, but then it picks up once the plot is established. It has your basics for an action and sci-fi flick. The story is fairly decent for the most part and features some good action and stunts, and the special effects are flawless, if a tad overused. The supporting cast and acting are sturdy, although with the resumes of the many cast members, I was somewhat surprised to see a few of them in this (type of) film. More importantly, we get some background on Riddick and learn that he actually does care about something other than himself.

Sadly, The Chronicles of Riddick gets lost in the blue screen. The actors don't come across as genuine as they would on a real set. The movie also relies too heavily on Diesel paralleled by the fact that he seems to rely too heavily on this film to jumpstart his lagging credibility and career as a semi-decent action star. It is my opinion that The Chronicles of Riddick's largest fault is dragging out various sequences seeming only to lenghten the movie to make it worth the ticket price. The editors seem to cut things a little too tightly, and the dialogue could have stood a rewrite or two.

Fans carried the original Pitch Black, which was not a blockbuster at the box office, but it became a cult phenomenon and gained a substantially large following and support base on DVD. This is largely responsible for Diesel's rise to stardom and getting the sequel off the ground. Diesel could very well come to own the character of Riddick and this franchise, as have Schwarzenegger with the Terminator and Mel Gibson with Mad Max.

The Chronicles sets up for another addition to the series and I liked the (foreseeable) ending. The movie lacked consistency in pace and tone, but for the most part is worthy of a viewing. It will be greater appreciated by fans of the prequel.

Grade: B-

Notes: This movie has a $125 Million budget, compared to the $23 Million of the origianl.

Czarina's Caustic Comment or Captious Compliment: This film may chronicle Diesel's return to profitabiltiy.

The Chronicles of Czarina


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