Movie Review
The Chronicles of Riddick
The Chronicles of Riddick poster
By Gareth Von Kallenbach     Published June 11, 2004
US Release: June 11, 2004

Directed by: David Twohy
Starring: Vin Diesel , Judi Dench , Colm Feore , Alexa Davalos

Running Time: 115 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $57,637,000
A surprisingly deep and involving action film that is light years ahead of most its genre and is a great surprise in what has been a summer of underachieving films.
In a distant region of the galaxy, a massive armada is consuming entire worlds in a religious crusade of death and destruction. The army is that of the Lord Marshal (Colm Feore) and his Necromongers who are staging a religious campaign where those who do not join are destroyed.

The colonized planet of Hellion is the next human settlement in the path of the Necromongers and the desperate inhabitants are preparing for the worst. One of the residence of Hellion named Imam (David Keith) has set a desperate plan into motion in an effort to save his family and home. As one of the survivors in the events of ?Pitch Black,? Imam has set forth mercenaries to try to capture the galaxies? most wanted criminal, Riddick (Vin Diesel), as Iman hopes that the man who helped save him five years earlier can be persuaded to do so once again. It is a move born of utter desperation, as Riddick has been in hiding for years and is not the type to join causes unless his safety is threatened.

Riddick is soon caught in the battle between Hellion and the Necromongers, and through circumstances is reunited with Kyra (Alexa Davalos), the other survivor from the first film. She has fallen in hard times in the last five years due to the absence of Riddick, who she sees as a mentor. Trapped in a dreary prison with a surface temperature of several hundred degrees, Kyra and Riddick are forced not only to deal with a myriad of unsavory characters but their own unresolved issues with each other and the looming forces.

?The Chronicles of Riddick? is a surprisingly deep and involving action film that is light years ahead of most its genre and is a great surprise in what has largely been a summer of underachieving films. The supporting cast is anchored by dame Judy Dench who greatly supports the setting and tone; I was also amazed at the sheer scope of the story, as I am not used to seeing a movie in the sci-fi genre like this.

The acting of the film was solid though not spectacular. Diesel spends much of the film as the strong silent type, but when he does speak he gets the most out of it ? some of his lines are pure classic and had the audience cheering. He conveys the complex anti-hero of Riddick well, blending toughness with compassion and humor, creating a well-balanced character. Dench's role is small but pivotal to the plot, as she provides a distinct nobility and culture to the film. The supporting cast was solid if a bit bland, as due to the scope of the film, natural avenues for character development were not explored; this being said, the talented ensemble works well with Diesel who shines.

Diesel is electrifying as Riddick, as he is the ultimate anti-hero and is captivating to watch. In what is a very physically demanding role, Diesel throws himself headlong into the part and the passion and energy he has for the role shines through. After some recent missteps it is clear that Diesel is back on track as a rapidly rising mega star. Writer/Director David Twohy has crafted a sci-fi epic that is filled with action and character, yet never puts the action over the title character and wisely allows Diesel and his charisma (and not the very impressive FX) to carry the film.

While it does drag slightly at the three-quarters mark, ?The Chronicles of Riddick? has a rousing finale that sets the stage for further chapters in the story and left the audience cheering, as they were throughout. This is a rare film that is not only better than the original but it is a genre defining feature that stands out in what has otherwise been a summer of disappointments.
Gareth's Grade: B
Gareth's Overall Grading: 50 graded movies
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