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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 David Hollands

"An overblown, hideously bloated and pathetic science fiction film."
2 stars

Pitch Black, while not exactly being the most original film ever made, still turned out to be a very entertaining, fun and scary ride. The director, David Twohy, kept a sustained tense atmosphere throughout, and some of the sequences in that film were jaw-droppers.

What Pitch Black managed to do best, however, was introduce us to a new film anti-hero. Riddick turned out to be one of the best creations to come along in quite a long while, a character who was always, more or less, evil. In Pitch Black, Riddick did change enough to help others in need, but he also heartlessly murdered another in order to allow him and the others to escape. This was not only brave, but also highly refreshing.

One can imagine my excitement when the sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick, was announced. Sadly, it would seem that my expectations may have been a bit too high, as Riddick's continuing adventures proved to be a bit under whelming.

When we last left Riddick, he had escaped the dreaded alien-infested planet with two other survivors, Iman and Jack. Imam and Jack have both headed off on their own paths, but Riddick now has a new bounty on his head. Upon discovering that the bounty was placed on him by high officials from Imam’s home world, he is more than a little angry (considering that he saved Imam with the understanding that Imam would say that Riddick had died on the alien planet so that Riddick wouldn't be followed). Arriving on Imam’s home planet, he discovers that the bounty was placed on him in order to lure him into fighting against an army known as Necromongers, who are sweeping the universe, conquering all worlds. Riddick, of course, is against fighting, constantly stating that it "isn't my fight", but will eventually discover some things about the Necromongers as well as his own background that will lead him to fight against the invaders.

I suppose it's pretty obvious that The Chronicles of Riddick isn't exactly the most original science fiction film ever made. However, films don't have to be original to work...the filmmakers simply have to understand that their film is not original. Thankfully, The Chronicles of Riddick understands this, and in this way, it is a little bit fun to experience. That writer and director David Twohy keeps a bouncy enough atmosphere is a definite plus to the movie, as the unoriginality would have been a major distraction otherwise.

David Twohy is also wise to make Riddick a definite film anti-hero, yet not a complete superman. For, as The Matrix Reloaded has taught us, two super-humans endlessly battling to no end gets pretty darn boring. Riddick's enemies are able to hurt him, either through words or through physical violence, which is definitely refreshing, considering that even though the audience knows that Riddick will come out the winner in the end, there is still suspense derived from some sequences where the audience's knowledge of Riddick's survival is brought into question.

Regardless of those positives, there are a whole bunch of distracting negatives. The main detractor is the fact that the film takes itself way too seriously, and some of the proceedings do become quite cheesy. The movie can't exactly be loose enough to be completely fun, and it does have a weight to it that keeps it grounded. It can even seem a bit heavy handed in many spots, appearing as if Star Wars creator George Lucas had a crack at writing a few parts of the script. When David Twohy attempts to emulate Shakespeare, with some joyless and heavy poetic-like moments, it just fails miserably. A scene in which a Necromonger battling his inner demons commits suicide by walking out into a heat wave is silly beyond belief. Many of the speeches of the main villain, one Lord Marshall, are laughable in their attempt to be serious and frightening.

The worst part of the film is actually its structure. We start off with a very interesting storyline, that of Riddick and the Necromongers' attempt to take over Iman's home world. Then, at about the half-way mark, Riddick is suddenly off the planet heading to planet Crematoria as a prisoner. This aspect to the plot is only there so Riddick can meet up with Jack from the first film, who has now changed her name to Kyra. Still, Riddick heading to Crematoria, getting captured, and rescuing Jack lasts for about an hour. It is here where the film just sags like an anvil on wet concrete, becoming so slow as to horribly bore. I wondered why it was even necessary for the film to travel to Crematoria to get Jack, when Jack could have just been with Riddick the whole time. This way, Jack might have actually been developed a bit as something slightly more than a sacrificial lamb. 'Cause really, all Jack does in the film is provide Riddick for reasons to fight, and is one-dimensional at best.

David Twohy has always been a consistently good writer and director. However, it seems that as soon as he got a budget, he threw all of his knowledge of technique and dialogue out the window. Cause really, the dialogue in this film is absolutely atrocious. It constantly sounds like dialogue, and Twohy also decides to over-explain things as well throughout. He never relies completely on his visuals to tell a tale, instead thinking that audiences simply won't get the obvious. Therefore, he has characters describing places or other characters to others or themselves, when the characters in this film would have actually already known about the characters or locations for years. That's pretty d*mn dumb. Plus, the use of voice-over constantly distracts, as it is only heard once or twice here (and in moments where it would typically be better without voice-over), usually to basically describe the obvious.

Such an assured hand at everything he directed before this film, David Twohy sure seems to have gone off the deep end here. He has composed this film in the full 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, and some of the visuals look incredible. Sadly, one can't say this about every visual. Twohy makes a major miscalculation in constantly filming things with a tilted camera angle. Nearly all of this movie is shot in a tilted view, just as Battlefield Earth was, and the visual results are basically the same: annoying. Sometimes tilting the camera can work well, but when an audience member is constantly staring at the screen as if they're sitting diagonally, it gets more than a little distracting. Also, Twohy seems to have indulged in way too many visual clichés here. Whenever a villain gives a speech, the camera is usually low to make the villain look menacing. Of course, being that the villains are never really scary as much as completely silly and bloated, the low angles just add a new degree of silliness to the proceedings.

Twohy also completely fails when handling the many action sequences throughout the film. Constantly, mistakes are made: a fight scene with quick edits and strobe-lighting, a fight scene with quick edits and large, frame obscuring hail, a fight scene where there are at least three-thousand cuts in a single minute. The fight scenes basically continue all the way through in this manner. There's simply no tension when this style is employed, since not seeing what the Hell is happening ruins any kind of suspense. The action is always in close-up, with editors Tracy Adams, Martin Hunter and Dennis Virkler making absolutely nothing of the footage shot. When an audience can't see what's happening, they wouldn't be able to tell which character is in danger, or where the danger was at a given moment. That practically every action sequence is filmed this way is perhaps the biggest detriment of all, since staring at a mass of blurry motion can get quite boring.

The cinematography by Hugh Johnson is pretty good, for the most part. However, the problem here is that it is either too dark or too light. For example, in the sequence in which Riddick battles about twenty guards, strobe lighting is used to represent the gun fire lighting up the surroundings. The lighting eventually hurts the eyes, as the darkness punctuated by flashes of light is very annoying. Other times, things are often too light, making a few passages of this film appear as if they are from a made-for-television movie. Sometimes, the cinematography does have a tendency to be rather typical as well. It goes too grainy in scenes when an edgy atmosphere is trying to be created; other times, it gets quite difficult to see who's in the shot. Finally, it never truly knows how to use shadows effectively in order to create atmosphere, and Johnson often lights scenes too brightly.

The special effects in the piece are all rather under-whelming as well. Too often, David Twohy relies on computer-generated images to carry the show. Sometimes, even the title character becomes a complete computer creation in the most obvious way possible. In fact, during the conclusion, it's all simply a computer-generated light show, when Twohy would have definitely done better to simply have a final fight without the aid of a PC; because really, what is more exciting: a computer blob and someone who can never seem to stare at it properly fighting, or someone actually there fighting someone else? One is always aware of the computer effects as computer effects here, as they are so obvious, thus any kind of tension when Riddick or another character is in danger at the hands of a computer creation is immediately taken away.

Vin Diesel reprises his roles as Riddick here, and he does just as good a job here as he did in Pitch Black. Really, the role mostly requires him to grunt and look tough, which he does rather well.

Alexa Davalos as the grown-up Jack does a pretty terrible job here. She tries to act tough, yet she just comes off as laughable. Sure, she can pretend to cry and be emotional all she wants, but the fact is, there's simply nothing going on in terms of Davalos' performance. It's ho-hum, and is simply too bland and impersonal to function.

Colm Feore, as Lord Marshall, does an extremely bloated job playing the main villain. It's a campy performance of the highest scenery-chewing, and it is laughable.

The supporting players all handle their roles quite poorly. They're either too bland or too over the top to create a proper balance. Judi Dench is the only good one of the lot, and she's hardly even in the film. So, in terms of the performances, besides Vin Diesel really, they're all pretty bad. Disappointing, considering that good performances are especially necessary in a film of this nature. Because really, when an actor constantly stares at a special effect as if it isn't there, it becomes pretty hard to believe the effect, or the situation in which that effect has been placed. Consider that about ninety percent of this film has special effects, and a major problem is easily evident.

All in all, The Chronicles of Riddick stands as a rather disappointing science fiction film. It definitely had potential, but the ball was simply dropped too often for this film to work properly. It's poorly directed, poorly paced, poorly edited, and mostly poorly acted...a definite recipe for disaster.

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originally posted: 07/10/04 03:06:40
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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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