Ahhh, Vin Diesel. Action hero of many schlocky films where he performs the impossible in yawn inducing Hollywoodized sequences. I’m personally not a huge fan of his style of film apart from just one. The character, story and general all round feel this film and its prequel, Pitch Black, delivers is an excellent franchise that deserves much more credit than given. Considering Diesel has another instalment on the way, I thought it would be high time to revisit The Chronicles of Riddick in preparation, even though it is a little way off yet.
This film was one of those ones I saw the preview for in the cinema and immediately dismissed it hollow action pap. Just another action extravaganza with characters about as exciting as cardboard. Even when it was released on DVD, I always walked past it in search for something else. I just was not at all interested and thought I knew in my mind what kind of film it was. Eventually, after exhausting all my options in the video store of what to rent (after about an hour of searching) I decided to reluctantly rent The Chronicles of Riddick, depressed that I hadn’t found anything better. When the movie finished, my rage at ignoring it for so long was insurmountable and is probably one of the most prominent instances in my film watching life where I’ve been so perturbed at my own ignorance. I got straight on the phone to my brother, ranting about seeing it as soon as humanly possible. This film is great and even though it isn’t without fault, it’s a pure definition of an entertaining popcorn experience with some added heart and substance. This film is what cinemas are made for and I’m crushed I never gave myself a chance to see it on the big screen. I won’t make the same mistake with the next one.
1994′s The Chronicles of Riddick (TCoR) is directed by David Twohy who is also helming the coming instalment. His past filmography leaves a little to be desired but this film is definately one of the highlights. If he can do the next film as satisfying as this one then I’ll be there with bells on. Diesel obviously plays Riddick and received a Razzie nomination for his supposedly poor acting in this film. Fortunately he didn’t win and I personally don’t think that his performance in this film merits that much Riddickule. He is no accomplished thespian, sure, but look at the type of film we’re watching here. I never got the feeling that he was godawful during my viewings of it. I think that “nomination” was a little out of order. Along for the ride with Diesel is a fairly star studded cast with Judi Dench, Karl Urban, Thandie Newton, Linus Roache, Keith David and Colm Feore. If you don’t know the names, you will definately know the faces if you’re any kind of self respecting film fan.
Riddick is your typical anti-hero. Always being pursued by authorities, a brutally efficient killer, a dark past, feared by many, awesome to have in a pinch by your side though you’d have thoughts about whether he’ll snap your neck like a chicken’s should you become too much of a hindrance to him. The Riddick in Pitch Black was a far more darker character (pardon the pun) and more mysterious when it came to his allegiances, whether they be good or bad. In Chronicles however, this is one small greivance I have because he’s maybe just a little too forgiving considering his personality in the first film. The film opens with the story of the Necromancers. A race of people whom travel from planet to planet, enslaving its people into their own armies to bolster their numbers. Once finished, they set off to the next one but not before completely obliterating the planet from existence. Nice. Riddick is called upon to take on the Necromancers and stop their reign of dominance once and for all. It was prophesised that one Furian warrior would bring about the demise of the Necromancer leader and considering that Riddick is one of the last of his Furian race alive, could it be him? Duh, Duh Duh!!!!!!
I cannot say how much pleasure this film gives me. It’s almost videogame-like with it’s changing locales, like going from level to level. It sure does keep moving along at a decent pace and you’ll never find yourself twiddling your thumbs or wondering if you left the oven on. It commands your attention. Riddick himself is an interesting character. Essentially a brooding, dangerous, angry guy who’s forced into the position of having to save a planet and overthrow the Necromancers singlehandedly, though it isn’t quite as Riddickulous as it sounds. The film has stunning visual vistas and more than competent CGI which is more than I can say for most films in this genre. The biggest highlights come when Riddick fights. The choreography is fantastic and will leave you with plenty of punch the air moments. He even kills a guy with a teacup in comical fashion. TCoR has a healthy amount of comedic elements which helps lighten the tone of a film that could’ve too easily taken itself too seriously. The Bounty Hunter on Riddick’s tail has plenty of great moments between them, with Riddick always turning the tables. I hope there is a way to work the guy back into the third film although Riddick didn’t leave him in a very desirable position in this film to survive. The only annoying character was the typical tough-chick, slightly overdoing the butchness of her persona. Still, she does have a few touching moments that she managed to pull the reigns on.
TCoR is one of those rare times where lightning has managed to be bottled. It’s an explosively enjoyable ride from start to finish and well worth a purchase to have in the collection. Pitch Black was so-so, but this film delivers one of the more memorable sequels in the action genre and I’m excited to hear Diesel is going to pump another one out soon. Although TCoR didn’t light the box office world on fire, nor most critics that reviewed it (which I strongly disagree with and regret listening to), I’m willing to bet there are many more fans baying for the next film because of the surprise quality of this one. I’m surely not alone in thinking this film deserves much more credit and am still kicking myself over dismissing it outright in the beginning. Do yourselves a favour and get up to date with The Chronicles of Riddick. I’m sure the next one will deliver much the same quality thrill ride and it’ll deserve your hard earned.