The Chronicles Of Riddick was ridiculed, derided and roundly mocked when it emerged in 2004. ‘It’s too boring and bloated!’ people say. ‘Badly written!’ they wail. ‘THE ACTING IS DIRE’ they’ll scream at you in tears.
Naturally this can’t be allowed to stand. You see, The Chronicles Of Riddick is easily one of the most entertaining scifi movies of the last 10 years.
Wait, hear me out…
1. THE ACTING
Of course, most of the performances are insanely over the top, cheesy and ridiculous. This is a good thing. When you’re watching a film with Vin Diesel about an intergalactic death cult full of people that look like they listen to Nine Inch Nails, the last thing you want is understatement. Everyone steps up to the plate, from Colm Feore’s Lord Marshall, to Dame Judi Dench (who utters the line ‘we glide rather well’ with a completely straight face, it’s why she was made a Dame). It’s Thandie Newton who wins though, playing the Lady Macbeth-like Dame Vaako with the subtlety of a cudgel. She also delivers the best ‘nooooooo’ in cinema history. Yes, even better than the Darth Vader one.
2. THE WRITING
People dumped on the writing in Chronicles Of Riddick, but the truth is, the stuff in Riddick is no less corny than stuff you’d get in say, Lord Of The Rings, or Star Wars or the Dark Knight films. Besides, it’s funny! Even when it’s not meant to be. Tell me that dialogue like ‘He’s not a man. He’s the Holy Half-Dead who has seen the Underverse and returned with powers you can’t imagine’ doesn’t make you screech with glee, as it’s being delivered deadpan by a completely game Karl Urban. Also of note is Vin’s shit-eating grin as he delivers the immortal ‘It’s an animal thing’ as he’s petting an alien hellbeast.
3. THE PLOT
People called Chronicles Of Riddick’s plot boring. Let’s dispute that shall we? It’s about a badass super strong anti-hero who’s summoned by a mystical being to take on an army of death-worshipping heavily armoured goths, all the while being pursued by hard living mercenaries who eventually catch up with him and take him to an inescapable prison planet, where he (deep breath) manages to escape after about ten minutes with an old friend and then goes back to have a fight with the leader of the death-worshipping heavily armoured goths (who can teleport) when he wins after an interference from Karl Urban, because obviously there was a no disqualification stipulation, and then badass super strong anti-hero becomes the leader of the death-worshipping heavily armoured goth army as a result.
Boring my arse.
4. THE MUSIC
The Chronicles Of Riddick has a great soundtrack. In fact, as I sit and write these very words, the song that marks the noble sacrifice of Keith David’s character Imam, has just swelled out of my tinny speakers, and I have a tear in my eye thinking of it. Poor Keith David. Maybe Riddick will save him when he goes to the Underverse. If he ever goes to the Underverse. He’d better.
For all it’s perceived foibles (which we’ve now proved without a shadow of a doubt are all unfounded) Chronicles Of Riddick is really well directed. David Twohy’s got a good eye for a mis-en scene (puts on beret) and knows how to pace a dialogue scene. Fight scenes meanwhile are well choreographed and balletic, and the movie does a good job of giving its deranged universe a sense of reality. There are also nice little touches for those who keep an eye out for things, like the way The Lord Marshall coils and tightens the whip in his hands when he finds out Riddick is still alive, hearkening back to Pitch Black when Riddick talks about being left in a trashcan with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.
It’s bloody poetry people.
Before you go see Riddick in the cinemas (which you should as it’s fairly decent), take a couple of hours to re-familiarise yourself with Chronicles. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, it’ll change your life.