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June 2004

By Wilson Morales
The Chronicles of Riddick
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Directed by: David Twohy
Screenwriter: David Twohy
Cast: Vin Diesel, Colm Freore, Judi Dench, Alexa Davalos, Thandie Newton, Keith David

Some folks may think that Vin Diesel's stardom began with "The Fast and the Furious", and to some extent, an argument can be made; but to a small group of people, cult followers if we wish to call them that, "Pitch Black" was the film that got him attention. He wasn't even the main star of the film when it came out. That film was done over five years, and Vin has since become a double digit salary actor. Sequels are usually are done within 2 to 3 years of the original film, but the producers of "Pitch Black" waited until now to release a film based on Diesel's Richard P. Riddick character. With the exception of the visual effects, "The Chronicle of Riddick" is an adequate sci-fi action flick filled with many Shakespeare references that make no sense. In terms of action, it should boost Diesel's career because he is commanding in this role, but there's no substance to his character.

The story picks years later as Riddick still has a bounty on his head and many are willing to die to bring him in. After getting the upper hand on his chasers, Riddick concludes that someone is looking for him. That someone happens to be David Keith's character who was one of the three survivors from "Pitch Black". An army of Necromongers from another universe are taking over planets and they are lead by Lord Marshall (Freore). As in most science fiction, there's always someone who wants total dominance, and it's no different here. The one obstacle that prevents Lord Marshall from superiority is an old proverb that a member of the Furian race will stop him, and it turns out that Riddick is a descendant of that race. Through the aid from the Ambassador of the "Elemental" race (Dench), Riddick searches and frees the other survivor from "Pitch Black". Now a woman and every bit as combative as Riddick, they try to free themselves from this prison where there is no escape so he can go back and fulfill the prophesy Lord Marshall now fears.

With a bigger budget than the original, Twohy takes full advantage of creating a sci-fi universe. The costumes are first rate as well as the visual effects. The drawbacks to this film are plenty such as Thandie Newton's character and overusing the Lady Macbeth attitude. In fact, there are plenty of Shakespeare references in this film. What in the world is "Dame" Judi Dench doing in this film? She's in and out so quickly, it puts her role in the James Bond films to shame. There are too many sequences that come from other films that you have to wonder how much originality is there within the script. When a sequel takes this long to come out, there's something wrong here, and now we know.

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