After the huge success of the original movie, Pitch Black, we got a sequel that took the franchise in a totally different direction. The Chronicles of Riddick is more extravagant and visually dazzling. It features a story of epic proportions, a blend of Lord of The Rings and Star Wars. Actually, it was Vin Diesel’s idea to use the LOTR structure with Pitch Black serving as a prequel. He’s a huge tabletop games fan and this came as no surprise. Actually, in between takes, he played Dungeons and Dragons with the rest of the cast, including Judi Dench.
However, I have to say that the main elements of the plot are much more similar to Warhammer 40k’s lore than Lord of the Rings. Complete with the Underverse that’s almost the same as The Warp. I do recommend you check out this highly informative video by Arbitor Ian: Warhammer 40k Timeline in 20 mins. Very entertaining and lavish, The Chronicles of Riddick is a space fairy tale with excellent costume design, cool weapons, and sets. It’s also very childish and unrealistic as some of the scenes simply make no sense.
Why would Riddick just show up in the open and attack a vastly superior army? Why would they spare his life? I can go on and on but the key point here is to simply let go. So, just relax, suspend your belief and you should have a great time. Additionally, you can trash the movie as it unfolds, pointing out every unreasonable decision or cliched line. I think that this is the weakest movie in the franchise as it’s quite bland in its commercial predictability. This also makes it very easy to watch as it requires zero brainpower.
Riddick is a man with a dark past and an even darker future. He tried to escape his fate by living on a remote and desolate planet but mercenaries found him. He outsmarts them and takes their ship heading for Helion Prime. Riddick wants to visit his old friend Imam who put the bounty on his head. However, when he gets there, Riddick finds out that the reason why he did that is much more serious. A ruthless tyrant Lord Marshal and his hordes of Necromongers are threatening the existence of the world as we know it. But they didn’t know that one man is about to join the fight.
With a budget of $120 million, they could go all out with the special effects and elaborate sets. Every ten minutes we get a very cinematic scene of alien landscapes or spaceships. The Necromonger costumes look so swanky and cool along with their weapons. They had a certain Giger vibe about them along with the design of the buildings. However, the part I liked the most is set on the planet Crematoria. And we will spend a hefty amount of time there. Its rugged and alien landscape served as a desktop background for a lot of science fiction fans.
The cast is much stronger this time featuring such actors as Karl Urban and Judi Dench. Keith David reprises his role as Imam and Colm Feore was pretty solid as Lord Marshal. Nick Chinlund also gave a very memorable performance as the ruthless mercenary Toombs. And Vin Diesel was Vin Diesel, embarking on another hero’s journey. With a runtime of just over two hours, this is an adventure that never feels boring or dull.
Another great thing that came from this franchise is the 2004 video game The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Featuring stunning graphics and gameplay mechanics it was one of the best games of that year. I remember spending days and days playing as Riddick and trying to escape that wretched prison. Since we’re getting the fourth movie relatively soon, I wonder will we get a new Riddick video game as well.
Director: David Twohy
Writers: Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat, David Twohy
Cast: Vin Diesel, Judi Dench, Colm Feore, Thandiwe Newton, Karl Urban, Nick Chinlund, Alexa Davalos
Fun Facts: At one point, the production was the third-largest user of electricity in Canada.