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Overall Rating

Awesome: 17.61%
Worth A Look: 22.54%
Pretty Bad: 18.31%
Total Crap: 12.68%

7 reviews, 100 user ratings

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Chronicles of Riddick, The
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by Scott Weinberg

"Yet another promising genre filmmaker devoured by the Movie Machine..."
2 stars

I'm not exactly sure how the not-half-bad "Pitch Black" would yield such an overbaked and lumbering sequel like "The Chronicles of Riddick", a follow-up so goofy and muddled and dreary that it pretty much ignores everything that made the first installment such an underground hit on home video, but I'm certainly not surprised. Somebody over at Universal smelled Franchise Potential, and the result is a comic-booky Space Adventure so wooden and overwrought that it feels a whole lot like "Battlefield Earth Jr." - and that's something NO movie wants to be.

I distinctly remember saying something in my Boiler Room review to the effect of "The gravel-throated Vin Diesel displays some real depth of character and delivers a fantastic supporting performance..." At that point, I considered the guy an underrated asset, a newcomer character actor who could pull off all sorts of gruff-minded theatrics.

Since Boiler Room, Mr. "Diesel" (oh, gimme a break already; the guy's name is Mark Vincent!) has headlined Pitch Black, The Fast and the Furious, XXX and A Man Apart. Not once in this quartet of cacophonous clattering did Mark Vincent do anything impressive. And by "impressive" I mean 'anything above and beyond grunting, punching, driving, shooting and sweating'. The guy's a full-bore one-note action star these days, so keep that Boiler Room DVD handy, as Diesel's performance within will one day prove to be a real rarity.

Also essentially sleepwalking through this mega-budget, mini-sensical space epic is writer / director David Twohy. This is a guy who got his start scripting Critters sequels before hitting the big-time with his work on The Fugitive. But counter that lofty credit with his screenplays for Terminal Velocity, Waterworld and Impostor...and you're looking at a guy who's made a misstep or three. As a director, his batting average is noticably more impressive: he's helmed the underrated The Arrival, Pitch Black and the criminally overlooked Below. Working with a massive budget for the first time in his career, Twohy is forced to go the Lowest Common Denominator route, and the result is something that only a hyper-caffeinated 12-year-old could truly love.

The Chronicles of Riddick is, and this should come as no surprise given its leading man and Summer Tentpole status, a loud and flashy and mindless affair. And there's nothing wrong with that. But unless Mr. Twohy & Co. were going for a piece of filmed entertainment that's as irrepressably silly as it is butt-twistingly dull, this one's got to count as a fairly resounding failure across the board. Even the most basic element of the Sci-Fi Action Epic (that would be the action) is mishandled so ineptly and so consistently that one wonders what the main selling point could possibly be.

Unintentional comedy is the only conceivable answer. Obviously any Space Opera that names an ultra-hot planet "Crematoria" is not aiming for high drama, but that doesn't mean that every "straight" line of dialogue should be met with peals of surprised giggles from audience members who clearly weren't expecting something so amusing.

The plot can be easily broken into three simple wedges: Act I sees our hulking anti-hero learn of his "Furian" lineage before he's asked to save a peaceful planet from destruction by the "Necromongers"; Act II has Riddick arrive at, and then escape from, an underground prison within the universe's sweatiest planet; Act III is when the Necromongers get theirs and how.

It ain't Shakespeare...but oddly Twohy seems to think it is. How else to explain the painfully languid subplot that feels like nothing more than a few hilariously dressed space-folk rehearsing their lines for an interstellar Macbeth revivial?

A host of truly gifted actors are left to crumble beneath layers of matte paintings, tinny set designs, clunky costumes and CGI paraphernalia. The excellent character actor Colm Feore is not only woefully miscast as Head Villain, but the actor all but vanishes beneath the artifice that surrounds him. Ditto poor Judi Dench, who briefly parades through her Obi-Wan Kenobi schtick to little effect. Thandie Newton and Karl Urban vamp it up mercilessly in a needless subplot that seems ported in from an episode of Star Trek: Voyager.

Clearly David Twohy intended for The Chronicles of Riddick to be a big, flashy, comic-booky affair, but the lure of Franchise Filmmaking at its Most Profitable seems to have dulled his genre-loving sensibilties. One hopes that The Chronicles of Riddick ends up as a big-time bomb, if only for the obvious fact that Twohy's a damn solid filmmaker...but only when he's forced to work within the constraints of an actual budget. If less is more, then more is The Chronicles of Riddick. Clearly 'more' does not always equal 'better'.

As a longtime and passionate fan of all things action-heavy and outer-spacey, I actively wanted to like this movie. But between the endlessly goofball chit-chat, the all-but-incomprehensible action sequences and the painfully muffled acting performances, this loud, lethargic sequel is utterly Riddick-U-Less.

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originally posted: 06/11/04 16:03:12
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User Comments

6/08/09 Vince Some of the worst camerawork ever recorded 1 stars
5/03/09 Heap Saw the Directors Cut, and it was better than expected 4 stars
10/07/08 Will it's CONAN IN SPACE 5 stars
4/04/08 nickoree dickoree muffled dialogue, strobe seizures; good action and music; nice effects, setting almost cool 4 stars
3/21/08 Gazza Will be a bigger cult classic than Blade Runner!! 5 stars
12/14/07 Jason Good movie, if a little cliched. Great on PSP. 4 stars
11/18/07 tammie I loved the imagery involved, script was sucky. 4 stars
6/12/07 al smith very underated take it for what it is a kick ass sci fi movie 5 stars
4/25/07 Indrid Cold Riddick is a cool enough character to keep things watchable, but ultimately it's just dumb. 3 stars
4/19/07 Stevo UK Watch it again? I'd rather lick my own arse if you don't mind. 1 stars
9/22/06 ProSneakyD A few mistakes, could do better but come on its awesome & no it is not rubbish. 4 stars
6/12/06 Dan loved it 5 stars
6/08/06 William Goss Slick-looking but self-important space opera, yet I will give props to Diesel for Riddick 3 stars
6/03/06 Cammy Saw it, liked it. Recommended it to others who also liked it (but didn't think they would) 5 stars
5/07/06 Barbara Loved it. Watched it several times and will again. 5 stars
4/14/06 Gar Exciting and visually stunning good chars 5 stars
3/03/06 Tanya I am a fan of vin but this is not as good as the first part 4 stars
12/08/05 JM Synth The opposite of everything good about PB. Seems to be aimed at fanboys, ala Matrix 2/3 1 stars
10/28/05 Jonathon Holmes FUCKING ROCKS...for a fucking idiot 1 stars
10/11/05 Tom Burns Very cool movie. I loved the action scenes it. 5 stars
8/24/05 Sylvanthunder A good anough Movie 4 stars
8/13/05 ES it's about a war, no a prison break, no an bald guy= the chronicles of idiot 1 stars
5/07/05 Lucky I loved it. 5 stars
4/26/05 Pippin007 It is soooo boring!!! 2 stars
4/25/05 Dan FUCKING ROCKS 5 stars
4/23/05 Quigley this film is atrocious! it is a gilded cat turd with a sign saying "please buy me." sick. 1 stars
4/21/05 DJ Great ass friggin movie! 5 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Has some great moments but I expected more. 3 stars
2/09/05 Kelly Greenwood I didn't care for it 3 stars
2/04/05 Dan AWESOME! 5 stars
2/04/05 ss Good movie 4 stars
2/03/05 Clifford C Gardner It has its moments 3 stars
2/02/05 Philip Taylor it rocks 5 stars
2/02/05 Joe Kolarz The original is better and Vin Diesel could have been meaner in it. 3 stars
2/02/05 lisa w In the beginning it showed promise, at the & I thought that was it. It was missing somethin 2 stars
2/02/05 Alice Colwell Well, at least my 10 year old son liked it ;) 3 stars
1/24/05 M Awesome! If only it was given a fair chance, You go VIN! 5 stars
1/20/05 American Slasher Goddess Dull and boring mess 1 stars
1/15/05 Devin Knox so awfuly gay 1 stars
12/25/04 Freddy weird movie but great effects! 4 stars
12/23/04 Cool Leather Jacket I did not planned on liking it after reading the reviews 5 stars
12/17/04 tatum Plays like an overbudgeted SciFi Channel Original movie 2 stars
12/13/04 Sweetgrrl1972 What the fuck was that? They took the Pitch Black universe and crapped on it. 1 stars
12/10/04 Vince After Pitch Black, this comes as a disapointment 3 stars
11/27/04 Matt F. not overwhelming but still pretty good 4 stars
11/26/04 A Scott Good movie. Lots of action. 4 stars
11/22/04 Caiphn Entertaining, not as bad as everyone says. 3 stars
11/22/04 ad long and boring, just went for sake of sci fi 2 stars
11/17/04 Max Sexy, sweaty, action packed!! 5 stars
11/09/04 Da Brother Good but 2 computer generated 4 stars
11/06/04 brad black this was an awesome movie, couple of mistakes but all movies have those. really good plot. 5 stars
8/02/04 P.Rodriguez SHould've been called, 'The Chronicles of Snoring' 1 stars
8/01/04 Alex Dankmyer if you look deeper into the movie you'll find a jewle 5 stars
7/31/04 Natalie Stonecipher What is JudiDench doin in VinDiesel's worst movie? She shoulda just vanished from the start 1 stars
7/30/04 Candace Troy Powers Needs a sequel, to be released for Christmas: THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK--YULE 1 stars
7/25/04 Diesel. Thats d stuff! 5 stars
7/25/04 Pure RAGE... it was crap cuz' they edited out 1hour & 50 mins of the original film ofr a PG-13 Rating! 4 stars
7/24/04 Sandy Turynowicz Very interesting 5 stars
7/23/04 alien assassin I've seen worse films than this 4 stars
7/21/04 arctic Impressive start to Riddick universe & myth (I hope there is more) 4 stars
7/20/04 N. Christopher Bell Not the best sci-fi flick, but It sure as hell beats STAR WARS: Episode Who Gives A Shit!!! 4 stars
7/19/04 malcolm everything to love and hate about summer popcorn action movies 3 stars
7/17/04 legend Moremoney, better cast but a better film than Pitch Black? No! No script. 2 stars
7/14/04 Haggis Had good things..worth Watching 4 stars
7/14/04 Rej its not crap, but had i known, id have waited patiently to see it on TV 3 stars
7/13/04 Alfred Guy Action packed, but lacks the edge that made Pitch Black great. 3 stars
7/11/04 ANDREW GIVENS great movie worth spending money on 4 stars
7/10/04 Saigo ABORT! ABORT! Massively dissapointing 1 stars
7/09/04 danny.w.yates best action moive 5 stars
7/09/04 Diesel Relax. Give it a chance! 5 stars
7/09/04 The Grinch A good turn at an original Sci-Fi Actioneer...whaddaya want, MORE comix movies!? 4 stars
7/04/04 nick2k i hate this fucking many incomplete plotlines can you fit into a movie?!! 1 stars
6/30/04 spinz this movie was so average it hurts :( 3 stars
6/24/04 John middle was boring but average movie overall. 3 stars
6/20/04 Homer Sehekual Not worthy of being a sequel to the decent "Pitch Black" 2 stars
6/20/04 Spiderfan50 Seamy effects, bad acting, and a story that would make Kickboxing Academy look great. 1 stars
6/19/04 tehman i had a sezior from all the strobe effects 2 stars
6/19/04 Emily loved it 5 stars
6/18/04 vagile I wanted to like it. II really did.. 1 stars
6/18/04 M VIN!!!!!!!! yummmmmm 5 stars
6/18/04 maxomai Good campy sci-fi. I'd love to see this as a trilogy. 4 stars
6/18/04 samantha lovelace biased - am an action flick/fantasy/fightfest/sci-fi-geek/vin-fan 5 stars
6/18/04 rameh This movie was actually fun to watch. I mean it wasnt that original but it was entertaining 4 stars
6/17/04 Unanon Go with low expectations and be satisfied. Not too terrible overall. 4 stars
6/17/04 Codeine519 I actually liked it. Not Oscar material, but then, how many action scifi movies are? 4 stars
6/17/04 Paul Some parts were bad ass. Some were not. Pretty good overall. 4 stars
6/15/04 whatevr do yourself a favor... 2 stars
6/14/04 max zhang If you keep what you kill, someone kill this movie and keep it from the rest of us. 3 stars
6/14/04 asdf The action was a little too fast, but still a fun movie. 4 stars
6/13/04 othree ok sci fi fix, Diesel played up to his role, photography work wasn't great, liked the end 4 stars
6/13/04 Vicious More fun than the reviewer here say, but yeah it was over edited and at times unclear. 4 stars
6/13/04 sue You can see where they edited for either rating or time and I am looking forward to that re 4 stars
6/13/04 Wyatt Earp Good movie 4 stars
6/13/04 Wolf Satisfied my expectations, for the most part. 4 stars
6/13/04 Nikolai Satiated my eye-candy addiction for a month. World needs more bouncers like Vint Petrol 4 stars
6/13/04 jestyr go in expecting a decent action flick and you wont be disapointed. 4 stars
6/12/04 djacosta I was sleeping during boring shit 1 stars
6/12/04 Bobby da Squid Muddled & confusing; reasonably interesting visuals; not completely unfun 3 stars
6/11/04 LusT4DetH Lots of Word Points for "Riddick-U-Less" 3 stars
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  11-Jun-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 16-Nov-2004



Directed by
  David Twohy

Written by
  David Twohy

  Vin Diesel
  Thandie Newton
  Karl Urban
  Colm Feore
  Keith David
  Judi Dench

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