That Riddick, when he isn’t busy sacrificing fellow humans or gripping the throats of alien-monsters, he sure is cool.
It’s been 4 years since the last time we saw bad-ass, anti-hero Riddick (Vin Diesel) kicking booty, finding any way out of custody, and being sneaky, and it’s nice to see that not much has changed in those past 4 years. Yes, Riddick is still up to his same old tricks and games, yet, he finds himself caught in a bit of a rut when he’s taken into custody by a religious group called the Necromongers. They are lead by the nefarious Lord Marshal (Colm Feore), who wants to either convert or kill any existing race out there, in hopes that he will be reigning-supreme ruler throughout the universe. However, once Riddick gets a blast from the past in the form of an older, much wiser friend of his Kyra (Alexa Davalos), who may be in a bit of trouble herself, as she’s stuck on a whole other planet and needs to be let out of custody. Or something of that nature.
Even though Pitch Black was nowhere near being a science-fiction masterpiece, it was still a fun flick if you took it in for what it was: A really dumb, really cheesy, B-movie. If you saw it as that, and nothing else, then you might have actually enjoyed yourself with it, as I did so myself. Hence why I was looking forward to this a bit, knowing that Riddick would still be cool, still be laying down the whoopin’ on whomever came around his way, and that there would be plenty more planets, creatures, and all sorts of of other sci-fi gadgets and doo-hickies to be seen, but I was surprised by how little of any of those features I saw. Thankfully, I got a chance to see Riddick lay down the law (or the exact opposite, since he is considered a “criminal”), but that was about it, and it’s a damn shame too!
I think where writer/director David Twohy messed up with this movie is that he gets too ambitious. Granted, that’s not necessarily something that should be frowned upon, especially when you’re making a sequel to a movie that almost nobody saw, but here, it takes away from the novelty of that first one, and what made it fun and entertaining to watch. Everything in that movie was yes, corny and terribly-written; however, it was shown on a smaller-scale, with a punchier run-time, where we knew everybody was on-the-clock, and they each had to move it, or else it was going to be their ass getting chewed-up by those alien-like creatures. That idea taken into consideration made the movie exciting and fun, while also making it easier for us to get past some of the more crappy-aspects of it like the half-assed acting, the badly-written script, and the non-stop plot-holes that would show up whenever Twohy forgot what page he was typing on.
Here, with what seems to be a way, WAY bigger budget and more on his plate than he could have probably handled, Twohy loses his grip a bit and makes it a big, loud, long, and overly-dramatic space opera of a sort. The same type of space opera where we get development for characters that aren’t all that interesting to begin with; a slower-pace where we actually have to pay attention to the story/script (therefore, making it harder for us to ignore it all of the dumb aspects behind it); and even more lines that are corny and terribly-written, yet, roll off the tongue of some of these people, as if they weren’t even trying. The movie’s close to being 2 hours, and while some may think that’s enough time to build an atmosphere for this universe Riddick is placed in, it surprisingly isn’t, considering how less time is spent on the way the universe itself works, and more about how these planets don’t like one another, and are all run by religions, sometimes very deadly ones.
With that being said, it’s a pretty nifty idea that Twohy seems to take pride in exploring, however, it’s not given as much attention as most of the dumber aspects of the movie are, like, say the action, the cheesy one-liners, and the whole dilemma we’re supposed to care about. And trust me, it’s not because I’m not a huge fan of sci-fi is the reason why I wasn’t all that interested; it’s mainly just because the movie takes itself so self-serious and dramatic all the time (even going so far as to touch Shakespeare material at times), is why I was turned-off by it all as a whole. Twohy handles the action and the special-effects very well, and actually had me excited for a little while, but the story itself is just a bore. Which, in all honesty, it didn’t need to be because the first movie was nothing more than a small, stupid, but effectively-done sci-fi thriller; here, it’s a drama about planets facing off against one another, nearly disguised as that small, stupid, and effectively-done sci-fi thriller we all knew worked, and really liked.
In this case: Going bigger was not the way to go at all. Sorry.
However, I think the root of this movie’s problem really lies within the fact that Vin Diesel was one of the main producers on this. Knowing that valuable piece of information afterwards, allows for this whole movie’s sake of existing make perfect sense: Diesel felt like his popularity was starting to wane, so decided to go for a mainstream blockbuster that wasn’t XXX, or apart of the Fast & Furious franchise, and see if people would latch on like they sort of did before, way long before he was that big star, back in that small-window during the early 21st century. Maybe that’s just all me thinking into it too much, but it makes a lot more sense why this movie was made, and why it’s so over-blown in a way to confuse itself with being “epic”. Diesel wanted to make this movie, just strictly so he could get more money, see if he was still a big star, and destroy the nice legacy that the first one would have probably been left with, had he not decided to come around and manipulate the use of his star-power.
All of that conspiracy talk aside, Diesel is still pretty solid as that huge hunk of meat we all know as Riddick, even if we can’t understand a single thing he says. However, with a character as simple as Riddick, we don’t need to know what he’s saying, we just need to see him kick some fine ass, which is what he does, and very well too, may I add. But it’s strange though because despite Diesel not being the best actor in any circle, he’s somehow the only one who feels right for the material, among many, “better” actors. Thandie Newton does her Lady Macbeth thing; Karl Urban just stands there, tries to look tough, and ends up looking like a total dweeb; Colm Feore goes on and on about some prophecy he has in his mind; and Judi Dench takes any type of energy or steam out of the movie, whenever she shows up here as this odd, ghost-like figure, who’s only purpose in the whole movie is just to whisper exposition into Riddick’s ear, giving him hope and inspiration, even though it doesn’t seem like he’d need it. It’s weird to see such a good cast as this go to waste here, but then again, I feel like they just had to know what they were getting themselves into signing up for “the sequel to Pitch Black“, so I guess not much sympathy is going to be going to their way from my end. Sorry, guys. You can’t win ’em all.
Consensus: While it’s busy disowning any sense of tightness or moody atmosphere that the first movie had, The Chronicles of Riddick also ends up becoming a duller, longer, and boring continuation of the story of Riddick, the same type of story that nobody really cared to see on the screen again, except for maybe Vin Diesel himself, and it shows.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
P.S.: Never thought that I’d be reviewing this on my birthday, but so be it! Cheers!