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Chronicles of Riddick

When Pitch Black first came out in 2000, almost nobody had heard of some hulking actor named Vin Diesel. In the meantime, he shot to fame, developed a huge ego, and watched his attempts at lasting stardom crash. See, before he can act like a superstar, he has to be accepted by everybody as one, which has yet to happen. The main issue is that either he is picking bad movies, or cannot act that well. Right now, it's hard to tell which is true (maybe both?). Pitch Black was fun because it was better than expected. Director David Twohy didn't have that much money, so he worked around that. No money means that on the planet, a huge eclipse bathes everything in cost-saving darkness.

Chronicles of Riddick is the exact opposite. It is the product of a huge amount of wasted money. The film looks absolutely fantastic. The sets, costumes, and planets all hearken to some epic space opera, but once people begin speaking, it's obvious there is no story whatsoever. There are some very talented actors here, and it's a mystery what attracted them to this film in the first place. Five years after Pitch Black, a race called the Necromangers is slowly taking over the universe. Riddick (Diesel, A Man Apart, XXX) is still a wanted man, and bounty hunter Toombs (Nick Chinlund, Tears of the Sun, Below) is currently hot on his trail. Riddick is a Furion, an old race of cantankerous jerks, yet still gets roped into helping a planet stop the Necromangers. Part of this is out of guilt. He feels responsible for one of the survivors from the film, who is lost. She went searching for him, and Riddick feels he needs to find her and save her. Aereon (Judi Dench, Home on the Range, Die Another Day) is an elemental, one of a dying race that is opposing the Necromangers.

Necromanger leader Lord Marshal (Colm Feore, Paycheck, National Security) has it out for Riddick, and sends Vaako (Karl Urban, The Return of the King, Ghost Ship) and his crew off to kill Riddick. And other random stuff happens. Twohy (Below, Pitch Black), spent an impressive amount of time expanding the universe of Riddick. There is a lot of backstory, and Twohy weaves lots of disparate elements together. However, he failed to make a compelling story here. He sets everything up and then sits back and has his characters do asinine things like outrun a sunrise. Chronicles of Riddick plays like a video game. Every fifteen minutes or so can translate to some new level. Outrun the sunrise, escape Necromanger guards in a crowded city, fight inmates in a prison, and so on.

And while it's still not clear what to think of Diesel as an actor, it is clear that he has far too large an opinion of himself. Twohy has Riddick speak little, but when he does, it is either too important-sounding or a joke. And typically, Diesel delivers the line s-l-o-w-l-y. To make it sound more dramatic. Or to make him sound more stupid. From watching him develop over the course of the last few years, it's clear that his best roles emphasize his size and his gravelly voice, not his acting ability. These roles require the physicality of an action star which he has in spades, but not necessarily the charisma.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 59 minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action and some language.

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