Chronicles of Riddick


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"Vin Diesel stars...He sounds like a bad actor trying to act like a bad actor reading a line unconvincingly.  But hey, it's not about the acting."



The Chronicles of Riddick
The Masked Reviewer


It's time to fill up your tanks with Diesel!

Oh yeah.  What?  What's that?  Not catchy enough for you?  Hmmm?  All right, then, the Masked Reviewer will give it another go.  This is a movie that screams out for a catchy title for it's review.

Riddick's Critics Must Be Cynics!

Yeah!  How about that?  Hmm?  Hmmm?  Perhaps you'd prefer a headline that pays tribute to former President Ronald Reagan?

Vin One for the Gipper!

See that?  The Masked Reviewer can be topical and timely, too.  Reagan was an actor, to boot.  See how everything ties together?

Anyway, it's time for the review.  The Chronicles of Riddick isn't (aren't?) exactly a sequel, but more of a continuation of the character Vin Diesel portrayed in the Y2K Aliens rip-off, Pitch BlackThere are a few characters brought back from that movie, but basically it's an entirely new story!

Well...not entirely new.

Did you ever see Solo with Mario Van Peebles?  How about Soldier with Kurt Russell?  An enhanced tough guy takes on an overwhelming army.  That's the gist of Riddick.  Is it a good sign that the Masked Reviewer is comparing this movie to those ones?  Not really.  It also has elements lifted from Fortress (with Christopher Lambert), Stargate (again with Kurt Russell), and Battlefield Earth (with John Travolta).  At least it has almost nothing in common with Tango and Cash (another Kurt Russell vehicle), which in turn has absolutely nothing in common with The Last Tango in Paris (with Marlon Brando).  Riddick also seems to borrow its level of scientific accuracy from The Day After Tomorrow.

There is a lot of great sci-fi to rip-off, but for some reason filmmaker David Twohy decided to use mediocrity as his guide.  And, he has done a fine job creating a film that's perfectly run-of-the-mill.

You already know the acting is bad.  How?  Vin Diesel stars!  Now, it would be very hard to say anything bad about Vin Diesel...if he were standing right next to you.  He's huge and scary!  But, he isn't standing next to you, so say anything you want about him.  Go on!  When's the last time you heard him deliver a line convincingly?  Hmm?  He sounds like a bad actor trying to act like a bad actor reading a line unconvincingly.  But hey, it's not about the acting.

Did the Masked Reviewer mention that Dame Judy Dench is in this film?  She must have bills to pay.  There's something that's much more depressing about seeing older, dignified British actors in goofy crappy movies than there is about seeing anyone else in the same goofy, crappy movies.  Maybe it's because they're British, and therefore we assume they really are dignified.  Take the lowest-class, rudest, crudest British guy and put him in an American movie as the know-it-all erudite or stuffy agency head, and he'll be utterly convincing.  It's the accent. 

Judy Dench is fine, though thankfully (for her career) not used much.  Thandine Newton (no relation to Fig), who you may remember as the hot babe from Mission Impossible II: Mission Impossibler, has a fairly small role that seems like it had a lot more meat to it.  We don't get to see enough of her, if you know what the Masked Reviewer means (the Masked Reviewer means she doesn't appear nude in the film).  Also starring is Karl Urban, who you may remember from the last two Lord of the Rings movies (he's an actor from New Zealand, so you know he'd be in them) as well as as Caesar from "Xena" (also shot in New Zealand, so you know he'd be in that too).  Rounding out the cast is Alexa Davalos who can best be characterized in one word: AWOOOOOOOOOOGA!  Yikes.  Even covered in dirt, sweat, and filth, she looks great.  She previously appeared in the TV show "Angel" (not shot in New Zealand), and she's stunning.  She's also arguably the most compelling actor on screen for the entire film, and isn't seen nearly enough (no, no nudity).

The action is fine.  The film focuses on hand-to-hand battles, even though the story is about interplanetary conquest.  The fights are well done, some combining elaborate special effects to good effect.  It's a lot of stealthy stuff, because that Riddick is a sneaky guy, and that's a bit different from the norm.  Some of the larger battle scenes get confusing, with too many things happening at once.  Was that a good guy?  Who just blew up?  Who's winning?

The special effects are solid.  You won't see anything new and exciting, but the visuals are well done, for the most part.  The star fields as they fly around in space are quite nice (empty black space is so boring).  Concussion effects from alien weapons are interesting, if not over-used, and even the shots with Riddick's special vision are kind of cool.  The best part about the special effects, though, is that they used a big part of their $125 million budget on cool sets, props, and wardrobes.  They created a world with an identifiable (albeit familiar) look, and they add tremendously to the visuals. 

It's not great.  It's not even good.  It's passable, if you love sci-fi.  If you love Vin Diesel, you'll find this to be very much in line with his usual quality of work.  For the rest of us, it's a two hour movie that has some entertainment value, but not much.  If you liked Fortress, Stargate, Soldier, Solo, Waterworld on some level, then you'll like this on some level too.  It could've been much worse, and it does squeeze out some enjoyable moments.  It's so-so.  Stay tuned for the next sequel, which features Riddick on the penal colony Yukkityyuk Prime as a stand-up'll be called Riddickulous.


Expectation from the Title: The life and times of a former heavyweight boxing champ.  Alternate title was Mr. Bo Punches Things.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Vin Diesel has pretty silver eyes.

The Pros: Decent fight scenes, nice production values, okay special effects.

The Cons: Acting, story, science, all sub-par, but not horrible.  It's an average sci-fi film, which is to say, a below-average regular film.  No nudity.




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