Review – The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

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the-chronicles-of-riddick-521521444e2f6Who would have guessed I would have liked this series. It’s odd for a number of reasons. Particularly, it’s not really my normal cup of tea, which is why I’ve always avoided the series as a whole. However, after watching Pitch Black, I knew I had to watch the next two films, although I wasn’t entirely sure how they’d pan out. Pitch Black was a perfect standalone film that did a wonderful job at capturing the essence of Riddick as he transformed from a murderer to antihero. I wasn’t sure what The Chronicles of Riddick would do, though. Clearly, they had more money, so it wouldn’t be a cheap and easy movie like the first one sometimes felt like.  So, completely unaware of what I had in store, I watched it. How was it? Well, let’s get into that.

Riddick, now a hunted man, finds himself in the middle of two opposing forces in a major crusade. Colm Feore plays Lord Marshal, a warrior priest who is the leader of a sect that is waging the tenth and perhaps final crusade 500 years in the future. Judi Dench is Aereon, an ambassador from the Elemental race. She is an ethereal being who helps Riddick unearth his origins. (IMDb)

PEOPLE
★★★★★

This category is all about the people in the film. This covers their acting ability, if the characters themselves are any good, if they work well together as a team, if they are deeper or flatter as characters, and if the casting director even did their job right. These are all very important issues to consider while reviewing film.
  1.  Acting: ★☆
    • Alright, so most of the little technical aspects in this film are not as good as the first movie, and I think that’s because the primary focus in this film was sort of taken away from the things that needed to be focused on. The first aspect is acting. Having an overall belief that the only people important in this movie are Riddick and Kyra, those are the only ones that shine above the rest in terms of acting. You had a lot of cheesy acting from almost everyone else…including Karl Urban, who was at least trying a little. So for this, I have to say one star.
  2.  Characters: ★☆
    • Next up is characters. Now, some of the characters were somewhat memorable, I will give it that. That being said, you had a group of men coming after Riddick that really washed out how memorable some of the characters were because those men specifically…were just horrible. Even Riddick’s own team that he sort of leads…the only one important was Kyra…again. So, one star.
  3. Good Casting: ★☆
    • I’m sensing a pattern, because again, the only important characters, and even actors, were Riddick/Vin Diesel and Kyra/Alexa Davalos. The rest of the characters were incredibly replaceable. Not only to the point of having new actors but even to the point of entirely re-writing the characters as a whole. A whole movie can’t just rely on two leads. One star.
  4.  Good Importance: ★★
    • I will, however, give The Chronicles of Riddick two stars for the character importance. I may not like the characters or the casting, but I can’t deny they all had a role to play that helped further advance the plot. This was true for both the villains and heroes. Like the first film, you had Riddick, who held the most importance, but that’s typical. The rest of the characters had strengths and weaknesses, which actually helped meld this film into something halfway decent.
  5.  Good chemistry: ★☆
    • It’s back to one star for the chemistry because as you’ll notice, the chemistry comes back to Riddick and Kyra, and nobody else really has any chemistry whatsoever. They are just there playing their part. End of story.

Subtotal: 6/10

WRITING
★★★★★★

This category obviously covers the writing aspect of the critique. First, you want to know a little bit about the script. Specifically, how is the dialogue? Are they saying anything memorable or inspirational…or was it just a bland conversation to keep the story going? How was the story itself? Was it well-balanced or over-convoluted? Was it original? Was it even interesting? Once again, all very important questions
  1.  Dialogue: ★☆
    • Even though there is good dialogue, I’ll tell you where I ended up with one star. Put simply, the greatest lines in this film were literally taken from the first movie. He said at least three or four lines that were directly from the first film, which told me the dialogue writing lacked the creativity it needed to make something altogether fresh for the sequel.
  2.  Good Balance: ★★
    • I was wondering about the balance of the film because unlike the first film, we kind of go to at least three different planets throughout the movie. However, I had to think of it like a normal film. Instead of three planets, he went to three different locations…so in a normal movie, that’d be like…buildings or something. Never once did you feel out of the loop about what was happening. It’s a solid story from start to finish, and you understand the meaning behind each planet. So, two stars here.
  3.  Good Story: ★☆
    • So, what’s the story here? Well, it’s not as good as the first, that’s for sure, but there are certain things here and there that felt reminiscent to religious cult behavior. However, that didn’t seem like the main point. I really think this went after being a fun movie just to be fun rather than a fun movie that sticks with you because of the story. One star.
  4.  Originality: ★★
    • I still have to give the originality two stars, because I can’t really say I’ve ever seen anything like this before. Even when comparing this to the first movie, this is something rather unique for both Riddick and science fiction as a whole. It feels fresh in that light. So, once again perfect score.
  5.  Interesting: ★★
    • I’ll also give this two stars for how interesting it is. Not only to see where Riddick is in his life five years after the first film’s events, but also concerning the concept of the film itself, and how Riddick is gonna get out of this one. Two stars.

Subtotal: 14/20

BEHIND-THE-SCENES
★★★★★★

Never forget that there are hard-working individuals working on this film day in and day out. It’s a great story, yes, but people helped make that possible. People like the directors, who have to take written word on a script, and somehow translate that for the big screen in a way an audience would understand. Editors, who are given a ton of material and expected to further make that idea and image the director has already – into a reality, like the director of photography, whose job is to make this movie look amazing…whether that means natural settings and landscapes, CGI, 3D, technical effects, or otherwise. The production crew, who are in charge of making advertisements that aren’t false, and don’t give too much away. Finally, the sound crew, who are in charge of everything the audio has – sound effects, sound editing, music, you name it. These are all puzzle pieces.
  1. Visuals: ★★
    • There’s no question they revamped their visuals. It’s still not perfect, especially concerning the CGI when they insisted on showing close-ups, because those were not the best…not even close. That being said, everything was still unique and different with the CGI, all the landscaping shots were fantastic, and those really wide shots really worked out for it. This is what movies need to do when they know they still have CGI that could use some help, they focus on the beauty of other shots. Well done.
  2.  Directing: ★☆
    • Okay, Mr. Director, you sort of missed the point in certain areas. I’ll admit a lot of scenes were shot rather well, but this is Riddick. The man that can see in the freaking dark. Why wasn’t there any scenes of him being the only person who could see? Other than that gimmicky scene towards the beginning, which didn’t count. That was a huge overlooking on your part, so I’m only giving you one star.
  3.  Editing: ★☆
    • The editing was more or less identical to the first film, in which there’s a lot of quick cuts in action sequences while there is close-up fighting scenes. You don’t really know what’s happening again, which aggravated me again, so I’ll have to give this one star again.
  4.  Advertisement: ★★
    • As far as I could tell, it was as advertised, so I’ll give it two stars.
  5.  Music: ★☆
    • There was a moment here and there where I thought the music was going to be absolutely astonishing, but it sort of went away from that path and returned to something typical and forgettable. One star.

Subtotal: 21/30

NARRATIVE ARC
★★★★★★★

Have you ever been left wondering what it was about a film that felt…off, but you couldn’t place what it was? Well, a lot of people actually aren’t educated on the traditional narrative arc structure – which is seen in almost every movie or book story. With a missing piece, you might not understand what feels missing.
  1.  Introduction: ★★
    • Funny enough, this movie followed a better narrative arc than the first one, for whatever reason. The introduction showed us what Riddick has been up to, that he’s got another bounty on his head, and it steers him in the direction he needs to go. It also gives us a quick introduction to the new bad guys, which will surely be difficult to conquer. Two stars.
  2.  Inciting Incident/Crossing the Threshold: ★★
    • The inciting incident is when Riddick is specifically told about the new bad guys that are coming to the planet to convert as many people as they can before killing the rest. The crossing of the threshold comes when he makes the decision to fight.
  3.  Obstacles: ★★
    • This one is also pretty simple, there are obstacles on each planet, whether it’s the new bad guys, or the mini bad guys on the prison planet. There were plenty of obstacles to go around. Two stars.
  4.  Epiphany/Climax: ★★
    • The climax was also way better than Pitch Black. I won’t go too much into what happens, but it feels like the movie worked itself up to that point and so everything is tense and epic. Two stars.
  5.  Falling Action: ☆☆
    • The movie really ends right when the climax ends, so there was no real falling action to speak of. Zero stars.

Subtotal: 29/40

OVERALL ENTERTAINMENT
★★★★★

Here’s something most critics overlook because they’re always so keyed in on critiquing the technical elements of a film. Well, that may be statistically accurate, but the numbers that are released aren’t always reflective of what we enjoyed about it…which is when we say the movie was under-appreciated or whatever. This category focuses on pure entertainment.
  1.  Rewatchability: ★☆
    • As part of a series rewatch, I’d definitely watch this movie again. I’m not entirely sure if I’d watch just this movie, though. One star.
  2.  Fun: ★★
    • Oh yes, it’s still as fun as the first, if not more. Two stars.
  3.  Impulse to buy it: ★
    • Yeah, I’d probably buy this as part of a set or if I could find a cheap version somewhere. One star.
  4.  Impulse to talk to someone about it: ☆☆
    • Well, not this time, I don’t think I care to talk to anyone about this one in particular.
  5.  Sucks the audience in: ★☆
    • A little bit, sure, but not nearly as much as the first movie. One star.

Subtotal: 34/50

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SPECIALTY QUESTIONS

These are special questions written by you before seeing the movie, based on expectations, questions, stereotypes, you name it. If it’s a Tom Cruise movie, have Cruise-isms, if it’s a horror film, ask how scary it is, if it’s a sequel, ask if it fits in with the universe or if it was even needed to begin with, you catch the drift.

Riddick Universe
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #1

The first thing you’d expect after seeing some advertisements for this is hey, this is that Riddick guy in another movie. So, this is a sequel, how does it fit in with the universe? Does it add anything? Did they raise the bar? I think for the most part, everything fit in the universe, he bounced back into character, it added more space exploration and insane bad guys that look impossible to beat…I’d say this category deserves the ten stars.

Action
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #2

The next thing you’ll notice is that this is it’s still an action film. So, how’s the action? The action is pretty top notch most of the time that you actually can see it. I think the added location really helped make the action stand out in different ways, so that’s pretty cool. Ten stars.

Threat
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #3

Next up is a basic expectation regarding the threat of the film. By now, you expect there to be some kind of impossible threat that only Riddick can face. The first film it was flesh-eating creatures. The second movie is these soldiers that keep going to planets, keep converting people to join them, and keep killing those who don’t. The more they convert, the more powerful and untouchable they are. So, I’d say this was pretty good too. Ten stars.

Darkness

SPECIALTY QUESTION #4

Next specialty question comes down to darkness. Riddick sort of has a super power. He can see in the dark. The first movie was really bright for half of the film, but really dark for the rest of it, which helped utilize his special abilities. The Chronicles of Riddick really under-utilized his gift. There is one scene in the beginning where he says, “You’re not afraid of the dark, are you?” Before wiping some bad guys out. However, that was more of a gimmick to remind you about who he is. The rest of the movie he sees as much as everyone else. Zero stars.

HALFWAY DECENT
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #5

Last but not least, is it halfway decent? Meaning, can I personally think of a better way to make it? I really believe it was as decent as it needed to be. It felt like a good movie in general, and more than I could ever do. Ten stars.

RATING: 74/100

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