Main cast: Vin Diesel (Richard B Riddick), Colm Feore (Lord Marshal), Thandie Newton (Dame Vaako), Judi Dench (Aereon), Karl Urban (Commander Vaako), Alexa Davalos (Kyra), and Linus Roache (The Purifier)
Director: David Twohy
The only reason why this movie can loosely be called a sequel to the fabulously fun sci-fi horror action flick Pitch Black is because Vin Diesel plays the same character in both movies, Richard Riddick. Oh, and one of the few Pitch Black survivors Imam (Keith David) makes an appearance in this movie just to remind people that this movie has something to do with the other movie. While Pitch Black is a one-off planetary monster movie, The Chronicles of Riddick attempts to make the hero into a modern-day Flash Gordon maverick hero, the nobody turned galactic hero after smashing the villainous marauding aliens, that sort of thing.
I actually find myself enjoying this movie more than I normally would, despite the fact that this movie doesn’t make a lot of sense, is haphazardly put together, and despite all the fancy-schmancy computer effects, has a storyline that comes off like something a bunch of high school Star Wars fans put together in the basement of their parents’ house after a few sniffs of the happy whiffies.
The plot, from what I can gather, is that it is now five years since Pitch Black. Our hero Riddick is still a refugee on the run, so he disguises himself by wearing a mop he stole from some hapless housewife on his head and making a beard out of the leftovers. While sulking on some icy planet, he beats off some bounty hunters after his head. Deciding that he’s done with hiding and wearing smelly mopheads, he decides to go back to “civilization” to show them who’s the biggest smack daddy of them all. I don’t know why he doesn’t just go back to town immediately after Pitch Black and make everybody his bitches because Riddick in this movie is one powerful muscle tower that has no problems trashing and smashing everything in his way.
Still, who cares? He goes to visit Imam’s planet, which is like Little Turkey crossed with Luke Skywalker’s home planet, and encounters Judi Dench’s Aereon, supposedly an air elemental woman (I think), who tells him that he is destined to save mankind from the evil Necromongers, “half-dead” warriors led by the supposedly very scary and nasty Lord Marshal. But before Riddick can do that, he will do a lot of running, jumping, breaking, smashing, and muscle-flexing, with two-thirds of these vigorous activities have nothing whatsoever to do with the plot as far as I can tell. A little girl from Pitch Black has grown up and she calls herself Kyra now. She and Dame Vaako provide the eyecandy elements for fanboys as the Tough Kickass Babe and the Seductive Femme Fatale respectively. For the ladies, Vin Diesel is flexing those biceps while Karl Urban looks as yummy as ever despite wearing a dead raccoon on his head.
Vin Diesel is in danger of becoming a parody of the action hero he was in his last few outings, but he’s in fine form as Riddick. He can pull off some of the most corny one-liners ever without coming off as the biggest cob in the world, which is cool. The supporting cast is fine too, although I’m not too sure as to what Judi Dench is doing in this movie. Maybe she has a bet with Susan Sarandon as to who will make the more miscast actress in a science-fiction flick.
It is just that this movie can get too incoherent at too many moments. Many of the scenes here are introduced just for the sake of having some action-packed scenes and these scenes are so ineptly carried out that they feel like boring fillers. There’s this scene where Riddick, Kyra, and a few disposable losers are running across the wasteland to escape the sunrise. I have no idea what these people are running away from at first (angry moviegoers?), and it is only at the end of what seems like an interminable obstacle course that I realize it’s because the sun’s rays will scorch everything in their path. (Not that this will stop Riddick, of course.)
I have no idea who or what the Necromongers are, except that they are brought back from the dead by Lord Marshal, but these “half-dead” warriors can be killed so I really don’t know. Colm Feore’s Lord Marshal doesn’t come off like a genuine big bad villain and he is hopeless outmatched in the badass department by Riddick. So basically Riddick is up against a bad guy who comes off like an overworked public school principal and a bunch of people in reject Star Trek outfits. Yes, that makes an exciting, positively riveting movie experience, doesn’t it? Mr Diesel is very effective in Pitch Black because his solid presence becomes an anchor for the viewer when confronted with the terrifying claustrophobia in that movie, but here, he’s up against a bunch of third-tier losers and he’s obviously able to kick their collective butts with one hand tied to one of his ankles. There is no suspense here at all.
Maybe the ending, the “twist”, will be appreciated better if they haven’t telegraphed it at least twenty times since the movie begins. Oh, and I know even less about Riddick at the end of this movie than I ever did in Pitch Black.
As a movie about Vin Diesel jumping around and acting badass, The Chronicles of Riddick relies too much on special effects (that don’t really work) and the audience’s fascination with the Vin Diesel machismo to hide the fact that the movie is a mess in every other way that truly counts.