Review: The Chronicles of Riddick

Published 11 years ago by , Updated September 12th, 2013 at 11:51 am,

By Vic Holtreman

Short version: Amazing production design and lots of action make up for the huge plot holes in this surprisingly decent movie.

I honestly cannot believe I’m about to type this, but… I enjoyed The Chronicles of Riddick.

I had just come off of two previous days of bad (Van Helsing) or at the very best, forgettable (The Day After Tomorrow) movies when I decided what-the-heck-let’s-throw-the-dice on this one. I completely expected this thing to stink, even as a “check your brain at the door” movie, but I was pleasantly (and shockingly) surprised.

The movie opens with Riddick in hiding from “Mercs” (you’re just not cool if you don’t abbreviate) due to a $1 million+ price on his head. His “badass quotient” is established immediately in a segment involving a ship flying through a tight canyon, where he takes out a few bad guys single handedly and without a weapon. There was something about the way the exteriors were shot that told me I might be in for something cool.

At least visually, I was right.

This movie had the most amazing production design I’ve seen in a Sci Fi flick since Dune. The alien ships and technology looked truly “alien” and the effects around the ships while in flight really made it look like gravity was being distorted. I have to give huge props to the visual team of this film.

Basic storyline is that Riddick is called by one of the characters in the first film (Pitch Black) to help defend a planet against a race of marauding aliens. These aliens take over a world, and offer the inhabitants an opportunity to convert to their religion (“The Underverse”) and become soldiers, or die. That sounded eerily familiar to me as I sat there….

Of course Riddick is reluctant at first but eventually comes around for personal reasons, and eventually much butt-kicking ensues. One of my favorite scenes takes place while he is chained by both feet and hands in a rail-type car, apparently immobile. simple smile Review: The Chronicles of Riddick

Plenty of action here to keep everyone satisified, and Vin Diesel is worthy of the title of “Next Big Action Star”. He’s got that look that if he were to walk into a room and do absolutely nothing even remotely threatening, you’d still know to keep your distance.

Of course there is plenty of ridiculousness in the film, including trying to outrun the upcoming sunrise by staying in the terminator (No, not Ahnuld. The dividing line between day and night) on a planet where the days reach 700 degrees and the nights 300 below zero. Also funny was the costume change by Thandie Newton’s character right at before a pivotal moment.

One complaint I do have about the film (and other recent action movies) is this new hyper-editing style that’s used during fight sequences. There were times during this film that I literally could not tell what was going on. Between the fast cuts and the strobe lights, I was truly lost. I had to decide to just sit back, not try to hurt myself trying to figure it out, and wait for the next scene.

Oh, and just what was Judi Dench doing in this film?! All I can surmise is that although she’s been in some excellent films, they’ve all been lower level paychecks, and that the studio made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.

Maybe she wanted to buy a house in Malibu. For cash.

So, although even in Sci Fi/Action films I’m usually a stickler for plot and character development, The Chronicles of Riddick has enough “cool” factor to make it worth checking out.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5

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  1. The problem is that Vin Diesel has been dubbed “The Next Big Action Star” ™ for a number of years now, and he has never lived up to the hype. He can play gruff. He can play arrogant. If he really works at it, he can play both. Ironically, my two favorite movies that feature him are Boiler Room and The Iron Giant. He doesn’t play a lead role in either film, and the latter film is animated. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. He’s a good supporting actor, but he’s not leading material the way action stars like Arnold are. He’s way too rough around the edges. He doesn’t have enough of a likability factor to him.

    I haven’t seen this Riddick movie, and I don’t really plan to. I didn’t even see Pitch Black. Vin Diesel movies just don’t appeal to me, for whatever reason. I did see xXx, and I hated it. That made me reluctant to see any of his action movies in the future.


  2. If it’s any consolation (or a recommendation) I hated both xXx and The Fast and the Furious, and I thought Pitch Black was hilarious. :-)

    I’m sure you can rattle off a long list of actors who’ve done stinkers but have done other films that have been good.


  3. Point taken. I’ll check out Pitch Black, but I still stand by my assertion that Vin Diesel has a lousy batting average when it comes to leading roles.


  4. No argument there. I think you’ll find Pitch Black a great contender for a “guy’s movie night”.


  5. Here I am, over 3 years later, just finished watching Riddick. Not bad, I give it 3/5 stars, too. I can’t help but remember how fast Vin rose as a star after The Fast And The Furious. When xXx came out (I was drunk and glad because it was awful then), the media ran press releases proclaiming Diesel as the next big star.

    No dice after this movie bombed (the game was a blockbuster) and xXx wasn’t the next big thing (although it did good business and came out about 2 years prior to Riddick). I remember how the Riddick deal came together and how badly Universal wanted to do business with Diesel.

    And I hear Babylon A.D. was so grossly over budget, the completion bond company had to come in to finish it. Not sure if the original director was on the final shoot. (He and Diesel clashed a lot.)

    I guess Diesel couldn’t live up to the hype. Btw, i watched this movie because I FINALLy got around to watching David Twohy’s BELOW, then his PITCH BLACK (love it) and this. Interesting mix of films.


  6. give it 5/5

  7. The reason for Judy Dench in the film was a personal request from Vin. He went all the way to Judy’s dressing room in london, with roses to request her do a film with him. True story. Aparently she inspiredhim to be an actor.