RIDDICK-ULOUS YET FUN | JUN 8, 2004
CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK
In theatres JUN 11
Okay, pretend we live in Riddick’s world. Like most sci-fi/action flicks, pretend the laws of physics and logic do not exist. So if we nit-picked and tore this movie to shreds, we would be hard pressed to discover flaws because in Riddick’s world, running across magma fields in 300 degrees without a trace of sole gumminess nor a bead of sweat is normal. Slice-hacking through seriously solid metal armour (that’s Eiko Ishioka tres chic, by the way) without effort is normal. Vin Diesel and Dame Judy Dench in the same room together is normal. Now with that out of the way, feel free to enjoy this movie for what it is: Glam Rock. Its not meant to be sophisticated and involved, just loud and flashy. Ka-boom, sparkle, fizz, pop.
But dig a little deeper and derisive remarks against organized Western religion appear in a futuristic realm where morality and integrity exist for only a millisecond. Where a victor exists only to have someone else defeat him during his glory run. “You keep what you kill” blah blah is their mantra. Temptation and confusion concerning power over venerable hierarchy made me wonder why this wasn’t offered as a double feature with Saved and why more people weren’t named “Gabe”. But, of course, there are no angels in Riddick’s world, only badasses with bullets and a shitload of spinny-kicks this side of the Tony awards.
Sure everything looks cool and the underlying message about being true to yourself (or maybe it was just another anti-authority anagram) is interesting. Pacing, soundtrack and editing were passable and far from oblique or memorable, but that’s to be expected. Hey, at least it didn’t have a wannabe Tupac accompanying fight choreography is all I’m saying. I miss the bony bat-creatures from the first installment (Pitch Black) and the actual feeling of suspense and dread, but this was okay nonetheless. I’d better turn this over to Chris before the bubble bursts on my trip to Riddick-ulous Land.
Riddick is something like a gorgeous supermodel. It’s wonderful to look at, but it’s best you don’t pay too much attention, as there’s nothing really going on upstairs. Picking up a few years after Pitch Black (aka: The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black) Riddick finds himself on the run from a band of eager “merc’s” hungry for his bounty. After foiling their first attempt at capture, Riddick makes his way to find the man who put the bounty on his head in the first place. It turns out an old friend (you’ll see who) was trying to locate him due to a 30 year old prophecy stating that a Furian (think “Furious”) male would stop the unwanted advances of a race of soul stealing, planet killing space vampires called the Necromongers. Being the popular anti-hero, Riddick doesn’t warm up to the idea at first, but nevertheless he ends up fighting, being captured, fighting and escaping, and being captured again by both Mercs and Necromongers for the next hour and a half, before finally taking on the task of eliminating the Necromonger menace. To be honest, if you were forced to miss five minutes here and there due to a Summertime burrito binge you wouldn’t really miss anything integral to the overall “plot.”
The film itself seems inspired by Lynch’s take on Dune, the 1980’s Flash Gordon, and Fincher’s Alien 3. Balancing the camp with just the right amount of contemporary nihilism, the film tries earnestly to be taken seriously. But with Sci-Fi such as this, unintentional comedy is to be expected. Actors do their best to pose menacingly while voicing juvenile Sci-Fi names such as “Necromongers” and “Lupus 5”, and straight dialogue such as “’Tis a test, these deep runs.” Physical comedy comes in the form of a breed of Necromonger bloodhounds called Lensers, that look like a dead man in a diving bell, croak like the ghosts of Ju-on, and move like a drunk Keith Richards turned covert molester. Lastly, the Necromonger war statue/ships are immediately recognizable phallic symbols, even going so far as to ejaculate nuclear sperms from their tip when destroying a planet. While I’m sure Twohy intended these to be deadly serious, the audience couldn’t help emitting more than a few guffaws.
Again, I must admit, the film is fun to look at. The cg planetscapes, alien architecture, and sci-fi costumes are a treat for the eyes. Most of the action involves cool fist/knifefights and gun battles shot in the current trendy post 90’s close-up, and while somewhat interchangeable, they are nevertheless entertaining. One of the best sequences involves a run from the sun on the intensely hot prison planet, Crematoria. (Yes, they actually call it Crematoria.) With ash falling like thick snow, the action is beautiful, if not particularly nonsensical. For example, a sweaty man touched by the sunlight explodes into particles of burned flesh and bone, but when Riddick covers himself in “Evian SPF 29,000,000” he incurs only mild skin irritation and steam rising from his body.
In a Summer of sequels and remakes, Riddick thankfully doesn’t resort to rehashing the plot of its predecessor. Leisurely yet epic, it is as big a departure from Pitch Black as possible. If you like 80’s epic Sci-Fi, or just want to check your brain at the door and see “shit blow up real nice,” Riddick makes for an enjoyable Summer escape.