Friday, 5 April 2013

Cults In Space

So yesterday we looked at Pitch Black, the tense, claustrophobic introduction to the life of Riddick. Today we look at the next step in his life; the universe-exploring adventures that followed the end events of Pitch Black. Expect it to be bigger and, well, not as good. This is The Chronicles Of Riddick.

Things happen. That is a basic summary of Chronicles Of Riddick. In a bit more detail, Riddick (Vin Diesel) is on the run from a bounty looming over his head. He takes out a mercenary ship captained by Toombs (Nick Chinlund) and, upon stealing the ship, flies to Helion Prime, where the bounty originated, and is reunited with Imam (Keith David). Then a deadly race of, well, super religious cult-type people called Necromongers invade the planet and plan on converting everyone to their religion. Riddick refuses and escapes the Lord Marshal (Colm Feore) and Purifier's (Linus Roache) plan to find out more about his past (which is all handily revealed throughout the film by a prophecy spirit type thing...). Riddick escapes but, conveniently, is caught Toombs who takes him off to a prison-planet called Crematoria where, super conveniently, Jack (Alexa Davalos) (now called Kyra) is incarcerated. The Necromongers try to track Riddick with the help, or hinderance, of the Air Elemental, Aereon (Dame Judi Dench), whilst Vaako and Dame Vaako (Karl Urban and Thandie Newton respectively) make a plan, for some reason, to kill the Lord Marshal. I think. There was probably a reason for that but it was lost in and amongst all the other confusing nonsense. There is a cult that do not really like Riddick... That's about it.

Riddick's brief stint as Santa didn't work out.

It is hard to know where to start with Chronicles of Riddick... Vin Diesel is reprising his role as Riddick, and keeps the same cool, cockiness that he originally portrayed, but loses the creepy. A lot of the issues with the film come from difficulty following what is going on. There is too much happening to fully appreciate anyone's performance individually. No one performs poorly, but nothing shines either. The plot, as one may have guessed, is overly complex, with six or seven plot lines entwining, but not enough time is spend on anything. Who is the prophecy fairy person? How do some people seem to be able to suddenly stop being brainwashed? Why do the Vaakos want to kill the Lord Marshal? Something about Vaako becoming Lord Marshal himself, it seems. There are a lot of questions that have answers, but they are buried somewhere beneath all of the rubbish piled on top. Everything that made Pitch Black excellent was forgotten in Chronicles of Riddick; the tension, the fear, the suspense, the well written dialogue, the basic plot. It was all gone.

For an intergalactic army, the Necromongers are pretty Medieval.

Not to say the film has nothing going for it. From a purely aethstetic point of view, the action is captivating, and the scenery is beautiful. It is just a disappointment that the context around the visually effective moments is lost in the confusing plot. Perhaps a suitable way to watch Chronicles of Riddick is with the mute function of your television put to good use. Everything really is bigger, but in no way better.

A short review for you all. Let us live in hope that Riddick (2013) will learn from Chronicles mistakes and Pitch Black's merits.

Best Bit? Watching Kyra and Riddick play who is the best killer is the simply the most enjoyable moment of the film. Mindless action that needs no explanation.

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