Saturday, May 23, 2015

Movie #308: The Chronicles of Riddick

The Chronicles of Riddick is a sci-fi space opera movie starring Vin Diesel, Judy Dench, Keith David, Karl Urban, Thandie Newton, Colm Feore, and Alexa Davalos.

Nominally a sequel to the superb Pitch Black (we'll get to P eventually), Chronicles of Riddick follows Richard Riddick (Diesel), a criminal living in space and being pursued by a bunch of mercs led by a dude called Toombs (Nick Chinlund). Escaping them, he finds out that his whereabouts have been let slip by his friend Imam (David), so he tracks him down to find that Imam is really acting on behalf of an Elemental named Aereon (Dench) who needs him to go fight the badass warrior death-worshippers called Necromongers.

If you think this sounds like someone's D&D game, well, you're probably not far off the mark. Diesel's a known geek, and I can't imagine the writer/director David Twohy isn't.

Anyway, the Necromongers, led by the superpowered Lord Marshal (Feore) and backed up by his high commander Vaako (Urban) and his Lady MacBeth-esque wife (Newton), arrived on whatever planet Imam lived on (Helion Prime, I think) and proceed to fuck shit up. Riddick escapes, but winds up captured by Toombs and taken to a prison planet where the world is always half on fire, and which is called (not making this up) Crematorea, because subtlety can go fuck itself. There he reconnects with Jack, now calling herself Kyra (Davalos), a girl he once mentored and who got sold into slavery trying to find him. But the Necromongers show up looking for him because he's the chosen one, and he goes back to Helion Prime, kills the Lord Marshal (but not before he kills Kyra) and becomes the lord high Necromonger.

So, I am kind of conflicted about this movie. It's space opera, and it's got a fairly rich world built up, and they don't spoon-feed you. But what I find weird is the contrast in tone between Pitch Black and this movie. Pitch Black was a stark, simple horror movie, and the universe had cops, criminals, prisons, drug addiction, miners, shipping lanes, and the only religion anyone visibly followed was Islam. Now we've got this mystical race of people, not just the Necromongers (who have been to the place where death ends or something), but also the Furyans, and instead of Riddick being left to die in a dumpster as a baby, he was deliberately attacked by the Lord Marshal.

I dunno. Feels like someone wanted to do a space opera movie and bolted Riddick into it, and the result is a little strange compared to our introduction to the character. Taken on its own merits, it's a not-terrible sci-fi action flick, but pretty by the numbers, except that Riddick becomes lord of the bad guys at the end, and that raises questions about what he's going to do with this invincible army he's got at his back. At least until Karl Urban kills him and takes over.

(I haven't seen the next installment, titled simple Riddick, so I don't know if that continues this story or not.)

My grade: B
Rewatch value: Low

Next up: Edge of Tomorrow