Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Riddick Retrospective: THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK

The Chronicles Of Riddick
Director: David Twohy
Starring: Vin Diesel, Karl Urban, Thandie Newton, Alexa Davalos, Keith David, Colm Feore, Judi Dench, Linus Roache
Rated: PG-13

You made three mistakes. First, you took the job. Second, you came light. A four man crew for me? Fucking insulting. But the worst mistake you made...empty gun rack.


Where to begin...

After some success boosting Vin Diesel along the way to superstardom, there was leverage to revisit he and Twohy's Riddick character again.  This time in a proposed trilogy.  What they wound up with was ambition of colossal proportions and a film that almost could have been a trilogy itself.  The film is covers far too much ground and lays down an abundance of exposition.  A sequel to Pitch Black?  Far from.  In terms of considering this film as a sequel to that film, then its actually quite terrible as it loses all the simplicity and realism that made that one tick.  The is a jump off the deep end in comparison.

Let's first start with this film's look.  It has an overabundance of obvious CGI dominating it.  Whereas Pitch Black was very practical and light and discreet on its CG, Chronicles lays everything on it.  Visually this is like going from A New Hope to Attack of the Clones.  Most of this expanded universe looks and feels fake to me.  Its impressive during some times, but never feels like there is any weight to anything.
This film is one of the biggest information dumps I've ever seen.  Holy crap is there a lot to take in.  Each copy of the blu-ray should come with a notepad and pen.  They overload you with names, races, planets, systems, religions, prophecies, abilities and history constantly and a lot especially at the beginning.  Its A LOT to take in.  ESPECIALLY if you are just coming off of Pitch Black.  This is a point where either a viewer just shuts off and says "fuck this" and sails through or like me feels the need to lean forward and not even let the sound of my A/C bug my train of thought while taking it in.  And what am I taking in?  Some of the dumbest on the nose names I've ever heard.  An extremely hot planet called Crematoria?  A race of fighter people from Furya?  The Necromongers?  The Underverse?  C'mon, this is some dummmmmmmb shit, right?  
And what does all that amount to?  Not a damn thing.  Maybe it was lip service for never filmed future installments, but what we end up with is a simple, tired, lame "Chosen One" story.  Its quite disappointing and does not feel at all like it relates to what began with this Riddick character.  Can't he just be what he is?  Why does he have to have this mythological backstory?  And then, they also bring back our other 2 survivors from Pitch Black, only to off both of them.  Why bring them back?  Pointless.

Did this feel like David Lynch's Dune to anybody else?  That film was also had an encyclopedia to read at the beginning of the film as well.  And there were people with glowing blue eyes.  The costuming, planets, plot and the like all felt very knock off.  Another knock off in this one is the MacBeth storyline between Karl Urban and Thandie Newton.  I didn't mind that as much though.  I enjoy both actors and Newton was absolutely killing it in this movie.  Overlooked, I'm sure because this film isn't well liked, but she deserves some credit.  There's one thing to ape and borrow, but try not to be so obvious about it, guys :)
There is some pretty good action in the movie, I'll give it that.  And I particularly enjoyed the hell out of the portion of the film where Riddick is imprisoned on Creamtoria (ugh).  THAT'S where you Pitch Black sequel is!  It's fitting and falls right in line with the mission statement.  You had a planet in the first film that got dangerous when the sun went down (or eclipsed) and here we have one that is more dangerous when the sun is up.  It's a simple, brilliant maneuver, but its just the middle portion of this film.  This film really could have been cut into 3 and worked so much better.  What we get is too ambitious and too huge to just take on one movie.  I'm not saying we needed a dumb movie, just something much much more restrained, tighter and simplistic.
As much as I've ragged this film, I have had the inkling since finishing that I need to go back and watch it again.  Do I hate myself or something?  No.  This was the first time I had ever seen The Chronicles Of Riddick.  I had heard it was bad, but didn't know much of why.  And the first view of this movie is incredibly polarizing.  There is SO much going on.  And to the uninitiated, you have no idea the first time around what is important and what isn't.  And you're also more concerned with learning everything thrown at you than enjoying the movie.  No, the planet names aren't going to change with another watch, but my enjoyment just might.  I'm oddly intrigued by revisiting it.  I haven't had the time, or I would have before I wrote this.  So, for now you get my slightly bitter, gruffy first impression of this movie.
Smartly, for the next film, it looks like they are going back to Pitch Black's premise.  As a matter of fact is almost looks like they're remaking it.  I'll take it, as I really dug the first movie.  However, Twohy and Diesel said if they are able to make further chapters, they're going straight back to this Chronicles of Riddick approach.  Did they not learn?  Or do they have a better plan next time out?  I don't know many that WANT that.  This one was a big box office disappointment and was quite reviled.  I understand that this movie has developed a cult fan base over the years, but that does not equate box office success as we have seen over the years.  It'll be interesting to see what happens this weekend.  If people are willing to forget and forgive this film and flock to Riddick or if this will be the final attempt and venture we see with the character.

Up Next:  Katee Sackoff joins the Riddickverse for RIDDICK

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