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2.0 out of 5 stars Riddick's Believe it or not, November 19, 2004
This review is from: The Chronicles of Riddick (Theatrical Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
What happens when you mate Dune with the Mad Max films? You get Chronicles of Riddick. Riddick picks up five years of Pitch Black with Riddick being hunted by mercenaries. They fail but he finds out where his bounty comes from and so he goes there and ends up on Planet Egypt. There he meets Imam, still played by Keith David of Gargoyles fame. Then there's some quasi-mystical stuff with elementals who seem to be Mentats from Dune with some magical powers thrown in. Riddick finds out that the Necromongers, another quasi-mystical bunch are out to convert or destroy everyone in the universe. Their leader the Lord Marshal and apparently a worshipper of Transformers' Quintessons can only be killed by a Furian and conveniently Riddick is the last Furian. Then Riddick decides that he's gotta go rescue Jack from Pitch Black so he goes over to the prison planet and finds her played now by the delicious Alexa Davalos. As for what happens after that, I can't say for fear of spoiling Amazon's review guidelines.

The Good: The special effects are quite nice.

The Bad: Ok let's take it from the top. The dialogue is atrocious. I was able to say the dialogue from the movie before the characters said it themselves. Riddick is especially dire, spouting such predictable lines as "There's only going to be one speed here. Mine." Riddick acts like a man whose read the script and knows that he's going to survive no matter what. This sort of invincidble character is just bad for creating any kind of drama.

Riddick is the last Furian and once the Lord Marshal discovers his existence he pulls out all the stops to kill him. The Lord Marshal is also the man who waged war on the Furian homeworld to destroy them all 30 years ago. However, we find out that one of the Necromongers is a Furian who converted. For the necromongers, where promotion is apparently gained by killing someone, wouldn't that make the Furian who is also a necromongers more dangerous to the Lord Marshal? I think that some things fell through the cracks during the script rewrites.

Riddick's character has been shredded beyond all worth. Pitch Black was horrid plotwise but at least had an interesting character study with Riddick. Unfortunately he really is the guy with the heart of gold that I was dreading that he'd become in this film. In the first film, I am convinced that Riddick went back for the other two people because he likes challenges. He's one of these guys that gets off on living on the edge. The fact that he had a thing for the pilot also enters into it I think. He also liked Jack because her imitation of him stroked his ego. He never had any respect for Imam though. This movie makes it out like Imam is like his one friend in the world and while I guess they could have bonded after the movie that just doesn't seem right to me. He also rescues a bunch of the prisoners from the prison that Jack is in, even coming back for them when they're in danger. Nothing seems right about that to me.

Whoever wrote this movie has the dumbest grasp of Physics that I've ever seen. First off, it lacks all credulity that a planet where the surface temperature varies from 700 degrees to -300 degrees (we're never told if this is Fahrenheit or Celsius) is going to have a breathable atmosphere. But even giving them that, we have them all cowering in ths shade on this planet while everyone is getting melted whose in the direct lines of the sun and we act like as long as you're in shade, you're ok. Um, if ten feet from you the air is 700 degrees then you're going to get fried. Sure it might be only 650 in the shade but you're still going to die. I swear that Riddick stands about ten feet from a guy that melts, but because Riddick is standing in the shade he remains ok.

No one in the world is ever going to believe that this is the same Jack as the Jack from Pitch Black. Sorry but even given five years that sort of transformation isn't going to happen.

The quasi-mysticism just doesn't work. The elementals just seem placed in here to make a cool effect, not for any plot reasons. The Necromongers keep echoing the idea that they "keep what they kill" but what this means exactly is never explained. Apparently it means that you get the title and position (and perhaps possesions) of those that you kill. Yet, even that seems strange. The Necromongers seek the "Underverse" which is most likely their name for the Underworld but because its sci-fi we'll call it the Underverse to make it sound sci-fi. However, instead of it being another universe as the name would seem to denote they say that it's "dark star systems" which also doesn't make sense. Black suns? The Lord Marshal is the only man whose been there and come back and it's given him super powers because he's both dead and alive at the same time. Of course, this is never really explained either as to how any of his physical abilities come from being dead and alive at the same time.

The plot just flows in magical ways. Riddick apparently set up his escape by being recaptured by the Mercs, but how could he have known that he'd need to go rescue Kyra from prison when this all started. Also, when Riddick first escapes from the psychics that identify him as Furian, how did he get out of the spaceship so effortlessly? I think that A LOT of things fell through the cracks during the scrip rewrites.

The fight direction has the same problem that I've had with a lot of films lately. Basically there are a lot of closeups during the fights and lots of cuts. That makes them disorienting and gives you a hard time telling what's going on. It of course gives the director the benefit of not needing to have their actors actually choreograph anything or learn any fighting techniques, but it seems shoddy. The other problem is the director's penchant for speeding up the camera for a couple of seconds. Doing this normally is ok although weird, but during fight scenes it just adds to the mess.

The Ugly: Everything except Kyra. The cast mostly looks like rejects from the Mad Max films.

The Bottom Line: I liked this movie way more than I thought that I would and I think that it's head and shoulders better than Pitch Black. Sure it abaonded the one good thing about Pitch Black but at least this is a halfway decent adventure film whereas Pitch Black never decided if it was a horror film or an adventure film and sucked as both. I hardly recommend it compared to anything else that I've seen recently and is out on DVD.

I was surprised by the ending because I knew that they wanted to make this a trilogy so I wasn't expecting the plot threads to be wrapped up at the end of this movie. However, the ending does give me hope for the next film. If Riddick is completely devoid of all morality and is just a conqueror then I'll like the next film. Then the third film can be about any sort of redemption or whatever they think that he needs to do. I doubt that they'll do it, but we shall see.
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