Running Time: 100 minutes
The Chronicles of Riddick is an unusual sequel. Unusual in that very few people saw the original. But director, David Twohy, and, hulking star, Vin Diesel teamed up previously to make "Pitch-Black,' a truly scary, science-fiction thriller about a small group of space travellers stranded on a desolate planet populated by vampiric pterodactyls that come out in the dark. Riddick saves the day because his surgically altered eyes are designed for night-vision. Pitch-Black is a low-budget, well-constructed and highly entertaining genre piece. The sequel finds the same see-in-the-dark Riddick after five years have passed. He becomes enmeshed in a battle to save an idyllic, racially diverse planet from a marauding band of metal clad, mono-culture warriors called Necromongers. Chronicles is big-budget, mostly incoherent and not very good.
It would be easy to poke fun at Chronicles. You could say, the metal and leather Necromonger's costumes look like something from George Lucas' garage sale. Or you could point out that Diesel's self-conscious delivery of insipid one-liners make a bad script seem even worse. You might compare the fight scenes to the choreography of championship wrestling (that's the obviously fake kind). You might even resort to suggesting that the best scene in the whole movie - an adrenaline-pumping race against a rising sun which will scorch anything on the planet's surface - really has nothing to do with the rest of the film. But, as I said, that would be easy. More difficult would be to break-down the many plot inconsistencies and deconstruct the elaborate mythology and overlapping symbolism buttressing the story. Harder still would be to point out the flaws in character development that leave a void where interesting relationships should be. But what would be the point of those efforts? The film isn't good. Let's not spend any more time on it than necessary.
The Chronicles of Riddick is very violent, a strange sado-masochistic fantasy where no one ever seems to bleed even when they are stabbed in the head, stomach, chest, neck, etc. But this missing gore won't make it any more appropriate for children.
In the Middle Ages, Chronicles were straightforward recitations of dates and events; they completely lacked narrative structure. You almost have to wonder if Twohy was aware of this when he chose the title for his movie?
Harden Grace is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.