The Chronicles of Riddick

Pitch Black

Year: 2000
Directed By: David Twohy
Written By: Jim and Ken Wheat, and David Twohy

RYAN’S REVIEW

There was a time before The Fast and the Furious when Vin Diesel had potential to be a good actor. We saw it in Saving Private Ryan and we saw it in this film. Somewhere in the years that followed I think his image went to his head too much. Take the Riddick character for example, he’s much more down to Earth in this movie. Not the “I’m going to kill you with this teacup” Riddick we see in the post-Fast and Furious/XXX franchises sequel to this movie. Somewhere along the line he got too cool for school and it went to his head. The guy started trying too hard and it showed on screen. I haven’t seen the last few sequels to Fast and the Furious and while I hear that they are good I refuse to give them my time. Despite that I have seen enough of Diesel’s work to suffice for my standing opinion. He wasn’t bad back when this movie came out, when he was humble and just getting his career started. Once his persona went to his head he became just another meat head actor. No different than your typical pro wrestler turned actor who can’t branch out of the action and family comedy genres.

While Riddick ultimately becomes the anti-hero in this movie he is hardly the star for much of the film. This works to Vin Diesel’s advantage in this movie. I like the Riddick character and even though Diesel’s performance in The Chronicles of Riddick was much different I still enjoyed that film. Although this film often looks like a cheap made for TV movie you would find on the Sci-Fi channel (I know it’s SyFy now but that still doesn’t make sense to me) it still has a cool story. It made the most of a limited budget and its lack of funding didn’t hurt the movie too much.

This movie does a bit of a balancing act between the genres of horror and science fiction. I have always considered the film to be the latter because it follows into a sequel with zero horror elements within it. There are parts of this movie that can easily qualify it as horror but not enough to sway my opinion. There may be some mega fans out there that want to compare this series to the Alien franchise because of the similarities but that would be a mistake. Maybe the first film of the series in each both feature aliens and a horror/sci-fi genre but that’s as far as any similarity goes. Riddick isn’t that big. In fact I had looked forward to the third film for years but when I read the synopsis that all changed. When I read that they weren’t carrying on the story the second film ended with and instead more or less doing this film again I was really disappointed. So disappointed that I still to this day haven’t seen the latest film and don’t intend to. If anybody out there really feels it was worth something let me know and I’ll reconsider.

I like Riddick. I liked this movie and despite Vin Diesel butchering the character the second time around I liked him in the sequel too. It’s the combination of Diesel’s current persona on screen and the lack of what I perceived to be good story that I haven’t watched the lastest installment. If I want to see Riddick battling monsters and mercenaries I’ll watch this one. I think seeing that in a third film is pointless. The second movie ends with Riddick in position to take over an empire and that was what ultimately gave me hope for the future of the franchise. Instead, as I see it, the franchise took a step backwards instead of moving forward with a story that had a lot of potential. I am aware I could be wrong about this given I didn’t watch the movie. If anybody reading this has seen Riddick and wants to set the record straight leave a comment and let me know if it was any good.

As for this film I’ll stand by it any day of the week. I watched it when it first came out and specifically remember it catching me off guard when I found myself getting into it. It was never one I intended to add to our collection but I really liked the second film despite the campy crap that brought it down. I may have never bought this movie had it not been for the sequel but I think it is still worth your time. It can be hard to make a good sci-fi movie without rehashing old themes but occasionally one can set itself apart from others. I think this movie does do that and I think it is a good movie for the genre.

NEXT MOVIE: Planes, Trains, &  Automobiles (1987) 

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The Chronicles of Riddick

Year: 2004
Directed By: David Twohy
Written By: David Twohy

RYAN’S REVIEW

Of all the movies we own this one has always been the one people look to and give me that look.  The look that wonders if I really know what I’m talking about or if I’m no longer to be taken seriously.  I believe this is because it’s a Vin Diesel movie.  I would anticipate similar looks if XXX or The Pacifier were seen among our collection but that is not the case.  We do own both Riddick movies and I think they are an exception when it comes to Vin Diesel films.  This was the role that Vin Diesel was made for, but he does manage to ruin things every time he speaks.  What confuses me about Vin Diesel in the role of Riddick is why he feels the need to verbalize himself so much.  He tries to prove he is a badass by the things that he says and this is a mistake.  Diesel already looks the part. He is intimidating, powerful, and badass.  There just really isn’t the need to act so tough with ridiculous and pointless dialogue.  The movie would have benefited if Diesel had taken a page out of Schwarzenegger’s book from The Terminator and just looked tough and kept his mouth shut.  It’s Diesel’s over selling of his character and his bad acting that give this movie a bad wrap, because otherwise it’s a really good movie.

The movie works on a limited budget under the broad scope of Twohy’s imagination but he managed to make it look good all the same.  Twohy took the Riddick character from Pitch Black, which he also wrote the screenplay for, and wrote scripts for three sequels.  I really like the story that he came up with, and I still hold out hope that his other sequels will eventually get made.  The world he created with Chronicles isn’t the greatest science fiction world but I found it interesting and enjoyable.  He wrote a good story and filled it with a ton of action, and it’s the action that really makes this movie worth your time.  Vin Diesel may sound like an F-ing poser every time he opens his mouth, but when he starts fighting that doesn’t matter anymore.  Regardless how ridiculous he sounds when he says “I’m going to kill you with this teacup,” it’s still cool when he actually does it.  Colm Feore plays the part of the lead villain the Lord Commander and I actually found him really surprising in the part.  I don’t usually like him but he really was good as the supposedly unbeatable bad guy. Karl Urban plays the secondary villain, a role he was well suited for at the time. His star has been on the rise of late, he is actually starring in the upcoming Judge Dredd reboot and will be back for the Star Trek sequel. This wasn’t the best role in Thandie Newton’s career but she is such a beautiful woman I hardly think it matters.  Judi Dench agreed to play a part in the movie after Vin Diesel practically begged her to be involved.  He is apparently a big fan of her work and was determined that she be involved. There is also a number of other lesser known actors doing well in bit parts throughout this movie like Keith David and Nick Chinlund.

Now that I’m watching this movie again I guess I can understand why I get that look I mentioned earlier.  This movie does have its fair share of silly lines and campy moments but I still like it.  I guess I’d call this movie a guilty pleasure but at the end of the day I’ve just always been a sucker for a mindless action movie.  I can accept Vin Diesel’s ridiculous performance and the other flaws if the overall story and action make up for it and I think they do in this case.  This movie isn’t going to get a lot of critical acclaim and that’s understandable but there is still plenty of value in a movie that is just fun to watch.  I’ll admit this movie isn’t for everybody, but if you’re in the mood for something with good action that you don’t have to put a lot of thought into then this is the one for you.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Apparently, we used to watch this movie all the time in college. I don’t remember that. In fact, I barely know anything about this movie. I had to ask Ryan a million question about what was going on. Why are his eyes like that? Why are they running from the sun? Why do they steal souls? I was so confused. I guess this a good movie if you like fantasy and science-fiction-y kinds of films. I wasn’t extremely impressed, but I think it keeps your interest throughout. I can’t say you will remember what the movie is about 5 years later, but it is worth the time if you have nothing else to do.

Also, on a side note I know that a lot of women really like Vin Diesel, so that may be another plus to watching this movie. Myself, ehh..he may be pretty to look at but he is a terrible, terrible actor.

NEXT MOVIE: The Chumscrubber (2005)