Wednesday 12 August 2020

Movie Review: The Chronicles Of Riddick (2004)

A science fiction action movie and sequel to 2000's Pitch Black, The Chronicles Of Riddick cannot overcome a sparse plot made worse by hyperactive editing. 

Five years after the fun events of Pitch Black, fugitive Riddick (Vin Diesel) is tracked down by bounty hunter Toombs (Nick Chinlund). Riddick travels back to the planet Helion Prime to reconnect with Imam (Keith David), and also meets spectral presence Aereon (Judi Dench). Both appeal for his help to resist the evil Necromongers, who invade planets with overwhelming force and kill anyone who refuses to convert to their twisted religion.

Riddick may be one of the last surviving Furyans, a warrior race feared by the Necromongers. But the attack on Helion Prime is quick and decisive, and Riddick is captured by the Necromonger leaders including Lord Marshal (Colm Feore), Commander Vaako (Karl Urban), and his ambitious wife Dame Vaako (Thandie Newton). Riddick makes an escape to the fiery prison planet Crematoria, hoping to free the prisoner Kyra (Alexa Davalos), previously known as Jack. But bounty hunters, the guards of Crematoria, and the pursuing Vaako will all pose a challenge.

The character of Riddick as a white-eyed outsider highly skilled in combat and ever ready with a smart quip is rich with promise, and director David Twohy occasionally threatens to make good use of a steam-punk influenced visual style. But otherwise, The Chronicles Of Riddick is a boring mess. Instead of latching on to a plot the film gets bogged down in a few long, drawn out and unexciting chase-and-escape set-pieces, overdependent on CGI and resorting to cheap - almost childish - stunts including a useless battle with oversized cougar-like creatures.

With non-existent or hasty character introductions, the preponderance of outlandish costumes, and names like Underverse, Necromongers, Vaako and the Purifier, the film teeters dangerously close to Dune levels of pompous cluelessness. Vin Diesel as Riddick limits his acting to dropping dry one-liners and either taking off or putting on his shades about once every three minutes. Meanwhile, the combat action scenes are micro-fragmented into utter incomprehensibility by a hack editing job.

The climactic across-the-terrain run ahead of a deadly sunrise on the planet Crematoria delivers a few moments of splendour, and Thandie Newton's Lady MacBeth-inspired lust for power emerges as the one character arc that may have been worth exploring. But The Chronicles Of Riddick unfortunately jettisons potential and wraps itself in choppy gimmickry.

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