the chronicles of riddick was pretty cool. it was a great looking film, which is what originally made me sit up and pay attention when i first saw the trailer. david twohy and the wheats have created what seems to be a fully developed and well-established world on the same scale as (and i’m preparing for the backlash here) the star wars, lord of the rings and star trek universes and those franchises/book series have been around for decades. the movie was visually striking with a rather different structure from your average action flick (or probably most movies in general) and is just what i would expect as a big-budget sequel to ‘pitch black’.

apology: sorry for all of the parentheticals.


‘pitch black’ and ‘the chronicles of riddick’ have made a vin diesel fan of me. i am consumed by an urge to see ‘the fast and the furious’ and ‘knockaround guys’ and to re-watch ‘xxx’ for the 3rd time. he isn’t the best actor out there. i know this. he actually has some quite emotional moments in ‘riddick’ (which most of the audience didn’t really seem to be able to swallow), and actually makes riddick seem…dare i say it?…nuanced (i am so hating myself right now) and maybe sort of deep like a fully developed character. no doubt that he has the kind of screen presence and charisma that most actors would kill for. props to (ugh, who am i?? props?!??) david twohy and the wheats for having the balls to give vin diesel a chance to actually act instead of say one-liners while sweating in a tank top (although he does a lot of that too), even if he’s not entirely successful. the guy is obviously trying, you know?

alexa davalos, a m-t-a of ‘angel’ fame (i guess, i never saw her on it), takes over the role of kyra, née jack, from rhiana griffith. i think it was sort of a cop out, but i guess they wanted someone to play kyra who was more of a sex kitten type just to make sure the whole brother-sister relationship between kyra and riddick is really blurred, not that it wasn’t heading in that direction anyway. davalos is pretty hot, and did some great stunts and has a lot of charisma of her own, but there is no way anyone is going to believe that this is remotely what jack would’ve looked like all grown up. whatever.

nick chinlund, a favorite of mine from ‘the x-files’ episode ‘orison,’ plays a merc named toombs who is a real sort of rough and tumble son of a bitch. pretty one-dimensional and i only mention him because of ‘the x-files’ and because i can’t figure out why he doesn’t get to play more nice guys instead of raving lunatics.

colm feore played the main baddie, the lord marshal. sort of disappointing. he got some cool stunts and stuff, but i will always remember colm feore as a more serious actor and as the doctor from ‘face/off’ so it was hard to believe him as a bad guy. the opposite is true of keith david, who reprises his role as the holy man imam, but i will always remember as the creepy drug dealer in ‘requiem for a dream.’

thandie newton was slimy as the conniving wife of the lord marshal’s probable successor, lord vaako, who was played by karl urban. urban portrayed eomer in ‘lotr’ and is seen here sporting an interesting long black mohawk. this guy can’t catch a break in the hair department. urban was pretty compelling – this guy was made to play angst and inner conflict. judi dench’s character was ok, but about the best thing i can say about her is she gave some great voice overs and wore a cool costume and can disappear with the wind. pretty badass.


visual effects were awesome. sure, didn’t look totally real, but come on, did you see ‘pitch black’? these films are all about hyper reality and crazy jump cuts and whatnot. the costumes for all of the necromongers were really cool, including thandie newton’s gowns. production design in necropolis was amazing – these huge sculptures of warriors impaled and stuff…seeing the converts actually being impaled, to the triple-max security prison planet crematoria, and all of the cool looking merc ships. helion prime, pre-necromonger invasion, was absolutely beautiful…like the baku village in ‘star trek: insurrection’ i think it’s one of those places that you long to visit, it looks so real and idyllic.

editing wasn’t as cool as in ‘pitch black’ but there were some moments where the sound design and editing really came together, such as the big hand-to-hand fight on the surface of crematoria and the final confrontation in necropolis.

like ‘pitch black’ this movie felt…different from other movies. the pacing, the mood, the story structure…something about it didn’t feel ordinary. the movie seems to unfold a bit more naturally, less forced and held down by a 3-act structure maybe. also, neither movie has the seemingly requisite love b-storyline, something that is very refreshing. i guess they just feel more real somehow, like this is how things would go if this actually happened in real life, instead of forced romances and overly articulate speeches and flawless heroes.

In summary…

‘the chronicles of riddick’ is a really fun movie that i would recommend to anyone who a) likes vin diesel, b) liked ‘pitch black,’ c) likes big sci-fi action movies that neither feel really sci-fi, action-y or big. it’s hard to describe. at least rent it…but this is a movie that definitely deserves a giant theatre screen and dolby/thx surround.