Chronicles of Riddick. Universal
presents a film directed by David Twohy. Written by David
Twohy, Jim Wheat and Ken Wheat. Running time: 118 minutes.
Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of violent action and
some language). Starring Vin Diesel, Colm Feore, Thandie
Newton, Judi Dench, Karl Urban, Alexa Davalos, Linus Roache,
Nick Chinlund, Keith David.
Chronicles of Riddick
when reading about the response a film is getting, I just
have to shake my head and wonder what the hell the writer
was thinking. Such was the case with the occasional exaltant
review of The Matrix Reloaded
(deep and visionary my ass), or the critical drumming recieved
by its sequel, Revolutions
(entertaining, and smarter than Reloaded, too,
no matter what everyone else says). Now, witnessing the hugely
negative response that The Chronicles of Riddick, the
sequel to 2000's Pitch Black, is receiving, I realize
that sometimes the critical community just plain gets it wrong.
no, that's not true - it's their job to state opinions, and
accusing anyone of failing to "get" a movie because
they didn't like it is the height of arrogance (Reloaded
fanboys, I'm looking your way) - but I seriously don't
understand the criticism being leveled at The Chronicles
of Riddick. This is an epic science fiction film, an ambitious
piece of universe building. Writer and director David Twohy
has not made a self-contained work; The Chronicles of Riddick
is the beginning of a saga, and he has created a world that
deserves to be explored. Like Star Wars, Riddick
has a mythology that should flourish outside of the films.
At a time when mindless action and high concepts are what
is accepted as science fiction, this is a breath of fresh
popular criticism - that the film is rife with holes - comes
from this ambition. But what separates the "holes"
in Riddick and the holes in, say, Signs, is
that here they don't feel like mistakes or oversights, but
rather conscious omissions, shreds of the big picture that
will be revealed in later installments. In Riddick's
defense, I find myself drawing another comparison with Star
Wars (and don't get the idea that the two films are equals
in quality - Star Wars is quite superior); when the
first installment of George Lucas's saga was released, no
one complained that the various alien races and worlds were
undeveloped, that the real purpose of the Empire was unclear,
and that there were threads of the story that were left unexplored
- now that film is a bona fide classic. The Chronicles
of Riddick tries the same thing, and the critics pounce.
claim being leveled at the film is that of incoherence. Frankly,
that's not even close to accurate. Either those critics are
mistaking the aforementioned "holes" for incoherence
or they just weren't paying attention, but The Chronicles
of Riddick's plot isn't at all hard to follow. It picks
up five years after the end of Pitch Black, with Riddick
(Vin Diesel, proving how effective he can be in the right
role) once again on the run from bounty hunters. He ends up
meeting with his old friend, Inam (Keith David), who, along
with Air Elemental Aereon (Judy Dench), warns Riddick of the
incoming Necromonger invasion. Led by the half-dead Lord Marshall
(Colm Freore), the Necromongers are on a crusade to convert
or kill everyone in the universe. Riddick is sent to a penal
colony on the planet Crematoria, where he meets up with Jack,
the girl he saved in Pitch Black, only now she calls
herself Kyra, and is played by Alexa Davalos. The two must
escape from prison and fight back against the Necromongers.
action sequences of The Chronicles of Riddick are a
testament to Twohy's attempt to stray away from the ordinary.
Adeptly directed, the fight scenes and chases never feel superfluous
or out-of-place, and visual effects are used to enhance the
action, rather than the other way around. Consider the centerpiece
action sequence, a fight between Riddick and a group of Necromonger
guards; Twohy, instead of going for flat-out excitement, creates
real art by shooting mainly from above and cutting the music.
It's ingenious and beautiful.
the one place that The Chronicles of Riddick falls
short in is the special effects. They are somewhat unpolished,
and some of the most elaborate shots look artificial. Still,
the look of the film is spectacular. Using a number of different
filters, cinematographer Hugh Johnson creates distinct moods
for the different planets and settings of the film. The art
direction is equally impressive, except for Colm Freore's
helmet, which is ridiculously stupid looking.
you're a fan of science fiction, you owe it to yourself to
check out The Chronicles of Riddick. It is a wildly
ambitious piece of work, one that I hope will gain appreciation
as time goes on. If allowed to continue, the Riddick
saga could grow into one of the great science fiction series.
If the critics' unbelievable negative reviews stop any further
sequels, then shame on them. We'd be missing out.
2004 Matt Noller