Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blockbuster Mini-Trash: The Chronicles of Riddick- Dark Fury

After the success of Pitch Black, it was a given that more would take place in this universe.  Unfortunately, it would turn out to just be an ego-piece for the film's star- Vin Diesel.  The Chronicles of Riddick does have some good points, but most of it is dragged down for the same reasons that so many early Seagal films seem ridiculous.  Every time something happens, Riddick seems to know about it in advance, have a way to escape/defeat it and come out looking good.  Hell, the guy escapes a prison by outrunning the freaking sunrise and surviving the super-heated light by pouring water on himself!  Fun fact: check out a 2002 Daily Show interview with Vin where John Stewart tries to convince him that the film is a bad idea- it's real!  Much like with Van Helsing, the producers decided to skip a chunk of the story and save that for an animated direct-to-video release.  The result: another obscure little disc that I have to review.  It's notable that this 'film' was designed to mimic a more anime look than the other one.  Is it better though?  Get out your silly goggles for my review of...
 Our story picks up right after the events of Pitch Black, with Riddick escaping the planet of dinosaur/alien/hybrid things.  He has the young girl, once thought to be a boy, and the black priest with him as well.  He's leading them to a safe place, but actually ends up in the belly of a spaceship run by a Ron Perlman sound-alike.  They end up being surrounded by the ship's crew of mercenaries after a pointless shot of them walking in a tunnel with zero gravity.  Being Riddick, our hero does...something that makes their heat signatures not show up on the displays.  Next time, just tell me, movie!  The group flip and float over in zero gravity before a hatch opens, sending out the ship's supply of flame retardant foam.  Apparently the thing has enough of that to make a giant dome in the center of the room- prepared much.  This is all a set-up to having Riddick sneak attack people from inside the ball and look cool.  This falls apart when the girl sticks out for a second to breath and is captured by the leader.  The group surrenders and is split up, with Riddick being taken to see the ship's commander.

As it turns out, the leader collects famous killers and freezes them into *definitely not carbonite* statues.  In the film's few moments of build-up to the main film, he sees one of the killers labeled as a Furya.  Ooh, that's so uneventful, especially when you consider that Riddick doesn't know that name at this point.  Anyhow, the woman offers to let him join her crew and collect more killers, which he declines.  She seems prepared for this and decides to watch him die in battle.  Apparently, she always sees the bodies after they are killed, so this has to be different.  She also puts an explosive device in Riddick's neck, which is a really-overdone cliche.  Her threat is a pair of glowing, neon monsters with long tendrils that kill you.  Taking off his goggles, Riddick fights them, but also must keep his friends alive.  They're perched on giant balls with nooses around their necks.  Thanks- this whole thing was not silly enough!  Thanks to the girl's help, he kills the beasts and escapes.  He also cuts the device out of his neck, because nobody expected that!  In anger, she defrosts more of her men, including the lead mercenary that would chase Riddick in the main film.  She also sends out a giant, CG beast that looks like an ugly, cyborg version of the monster from The Host.

Since Riddick has to look awesome, he tricks the beast into killing all of the mercenaries before taking it out in one move.  Wow, that completely demystifies the idea of this thing, doesn't it?  He tricks the thing by putting down his bloody shirt as bait and suddenly appears in the next scene with a shirt!  Is continuity too much to ask, guys?  In the final fight, he battles the ship's second-in-command in a fight that's decent.  The problem: it turns way too angular and makes Aeon Flux characters look normal by comparison!  He ultimately beats the guy by tricking him into cutting the power line, making him and his 'cat eyes' more powerful.  Unfortunately for him, the ship's commander got on the ship ahead of him...somehow and shoots him.  Before she can finish him off, the girl shoots her down.  He wonders to the priest about how his influence is affecting the girl, so they decide to drop off at a nice planet.  Gee, I'm sure that the crazy death cult aliens won't go there.  Oh and the not-dead mercenary does the old 'I'll get you next time, ____' line as the film ends.  Wow, that was weird and didn't set-up the film at all.

This little film is...alright.  The plot is odd, choosing to set-up a bunch of ideas that never come to fruition in The Chronicles of Riddick.  At least the Van Helsing film told a related story and put you in place for the film's start.  This one just comes off as 'it would be cool to see Riddick fight some aliens between the two movies' and nothing more.  The art is pretty good, going a bit too stylistic for my taste at times though.  I will freely admit that I'm not the biggest anime fan, so your opinion may end up being the opposite of mine.  Seriously though, why did the final fight turns so blocky and cheap-looking?  Did they run low on money towards the end and just let the interns take over?  You may want to save money for your final fight next time, guys.  Of course, there is a 99.999% chance that there won't be a next time.  While it was not a bomb, critical response towards Riddick was not exactly kind and it failed to make enough to justify a franchise- at least in a studio's mind.  It's been over six years since the film came out and I've heard zero talk about following it up.  As Vin notes in the Daily Show interview, it was planned to be part of a Riddick trilogy.  Well, unless you count the box set version, that never happened and may never.  C'est la vie, Vin.

Next up, Thailand brings us a wacky comedy/action film.  Is it more wacky than it is action or vice/versa?  Stay tuned...

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