I saw and dug Pitch Black for the first time a while ago, and just kept forgetting to catch up with The Chronicles of Riddick. The pending release of the third film in the series prompted me to finally watch it, to the extent that I actually missed a preview screening of Riddick so I could finish this movie. A notoriously very different type of film, Chronicles is set five years after the events of the first film, with bright-eyed killer Riddick (Vin Diesel) still a highly-sought-after criminal. After nearly being captured, he finds his way to the planet Helium Prime, which is on the verge of being conquered by an all-powerful race of aliens who destroy or brainwash and enslave all the people they battle. Or something. So Riddick has to save this whole planet, but first he has to go to a deadly prison planet to help out Jack aka Kyra (Alexa Davalos), one of his two surviving buddies from the first film. He also has to discover the secret to his own origins and whatnot. THEN he can save this planet. All the while, pimply Karl Urban is following him around trying to capture him.
OK ok okok so I KNOW that this movie is kind of hated, and that overall it is a MESS but what you need to know right off the bat is that I kind of… LOVE. IT. It’s ridiculous and overblown and nonsensical and bizarre but it’s also, like, so great. Seriously, just think about it. You’ve got Vin Diesel perfecting his gravel-voiced antihero thing, kicking ass every few scenes. You’ve got Alexa Davalos also kicking tons of ass and never getting sucked into a romantic subplot (yay!). You’ve got Thandie Newton slinking about seducing and manipulating an adorably mohawked Karl Urban. You’ve got really impressive sets and ambitious visual design. You’ve got a crazy-complex set-up that pulls out new histories for familiar characters while introducing a host of new people and places and concepts. And you’ve got Dame. Judi. Dench. !. So tell me again why people don’t like this movie? I’d really like to know!
Obviously The Chronicles of Riddick is not without problems. It really is all over the place, and most of the time I had no idea what was going on or how most characters related to each other. Plus there are way too many characters, it’s just bloated compared to the stripped-down thriller of the first film. But then, it looks to me like the filmmakers had no interest in repeating the formula of the first film, and instead are using their increased budget and cult interest to expand the characters and their universe. Works for me. I do understand why people wouldn’t like this movie, but for whatever reason I was totally into it. Diesel’s ultracool posturing and the line of badass ladies supporting him probably played a major role, along with my extremely high threshold for very silly science fiction.
Pair This Movie With: Well Pitch Black of course makes sense, and perhaps Riddick but I haven’t seen it yet and keep hearing about how it’s mad sexist. I got some Stargate vibes with the visuals and over-complicated-ness, which I had recommended as a pairing to Pitch Black as well, for different reasons.