The Chronicles of Riddick

The Chronicles of Riddick reunites star Vin Diesel and director David Twohy back together since their sleeper hit Pitch Black. Set five years after Pitch Black; Riddick is still a wanted man and has to constantly elude the stream of bounty hunters and mercenaries always on his trail. On the icy planet UV6 having just avoided yet another group of hunters, he decides that someone must be divulging information about him and the only two people in the universe who know anything about him are the only two survivors from the first film.

On the other side of the galaxy, unbeknown to Riddick a race known as Necromongers, led by the sixth Lord Marshal (Colm Feore), arrive on Helion. The Necromongers are on their way on a crusade that involves subjugation of any planet that they land on. If whichever planet they do land on doesn’t succumb to the Lord Marshals cause then the planet is destroyed by the Necromongers.

Riddick arrives on Helion to find the Imam Abu al-Walid (Keith David) one of the two survivors from the alien planet five years ago. When he does find the Imam, it transpires that the reason people have been hunting him is that an Elemental called Aereon (Dame Judi Dench) has been seeking his help. Riddick discovers that he is actually a Furyan, one of the last members of a race that is capable of defeating the Necromongers.

Unsurprisingly Riddick and the Lord Marshal don’t becomes best friends on their first meeting and Riddick escapes the Necromongers only to be captured by mercenaries who deliver him to the Slam – a dark subterranean prison which houses the worse scum in the universe. It turns out that Riddick wanted to be sent to the Slam because this is where Jack (the girl from the first film is) who is now called Kyra (Alexa Davalos) is.

Soon, with a little help, Riddick is heading back to confront the Lord Marshal but killing him might not be as simple as first though. The Lord Marshal is a half un-dead supernatural being and not someone to stand around while Riddick tries to kill the other half.

The Chronicles of Riddick has a much larger budget that Pitch Black and that shows with the sets and production value. However, it doesn’t mean that bigger is necessarily better in this case as the story is not nearly as engrossing as the first. At times the plot could have been lifted directly from a Star Trek episode (if it wasn’t for Vin Diesel’s undecipherable growling narration to remind you that no Phasers ever get set to stun in this universe) especially with the plight of Helion residing in the balance.

The character of Riddick is tailor made for Vin Diesel as it suits his screen presence to a tee, which also allows him to keep the acting to a minimum and the growling to a maximum. Thandie Newton and Alexa Davalos bring some much needed eye-candy to the affair – although the sexy Davalos is supposed to be Jack from the first film…hmm….that might require a stretch of the old imagination. The puzzling thing is why is Dame Judi Dench in this film? It’s not that she’s bad, but her role is such a small and relatively minor role it’s just surprising that someone with such a tremendous and varied career would do this. Her cause isn’t helped by the fact that her character is never really explained.

On the whole The Chronicles of Riddick is enjoyable enough as a Friday night action flick, but not nearly as good as Pitch Black. However, by the time the predictable and inevitable climax arrives, hunting for any deep meanings in the story or characters is pointless – just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Score 7/10