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The Chronicles of Riddick (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Riddick's World - Vin Diesel takes you on a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the Riddick sets. Interactive 360° view of 8 different sets from the film. Virtual Guide To The Chronicles of Riddick - an interactive guide that immerses the viewer into the world of the movie from the perspectives of the characters. Toombs’ Chase Log - track the hunt for Riddick from bounty-hunter Toombs' perspective and follow the action leading up to the opening scene of the movie. Riddick Inside Facts On Demand - scene specific background fact and trivia is displayed on-screen in real time as you watch the movie! The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay game demo.

FOUR years ago, a relatively unknown Vin Diesel made a name for himself in a small, low-budget sci-fi flick called Pitch Black which, despite its meagre scale, delivered a brilliant variation on a well-trodden genre, as well as one of the coolest lead characters in recent years.

Sadly, the mega-budget sequel fails to realise the potential shown in the original and turns what could have become an interesting franchise into an unfathomable and boring mess.

The Chronicles of Riddick is clearly designed to be the first in a series of adventures for its central protagonist but, on the strength of its disappointing US Box Office performance, looks set to become a costly missed opportunity for all associated with it.

Set five years after the events of Pitch Black (which found Riddick attempting to escape a creature-ridden planet in the Taurus system), Chronicles picks up as the universe is placed under threat from an unholy army of Necromongers - conquering warriors who offer ravished worlds a choice between conformity or death.

Its only hope lies with Riddick (Diesel), a former killer-turned-fugitive, who has spent the ensuing period evading mercenaries, while trying to carve out an existence for himself away from humanity.

Having been summoned back from exile by a ghost from his past, however, Riddick finds himself to be an unlikely anti-hero once more, given that his destiny holds the key to mankind’s future, due to the mythology surrounding his past.

The ensuing fantasy-adventure finds Riddick squaring off against the Necromonger Lord Marshal (Colm Feore) and his rebellious would-be successor (Karl Urban), in a series of increasingly momentous battles that take place everywhere from an idyllic, multi-cultural civilisation to a hostile subterranean prison, carved out beneath the surface of a hellish, volcanic planet.

Unfortunately, the film that results is an unqualified bore, made all the more disappointing by the masses of talent that it wastes - both in terms of cast and sets.

In a Summer that has largely been defined by good-quality sequels (Spider-Man 2, Shrek 2 and The Bourne Supremacy), The Chronicles stands out like a sort thumb as an example of how big doesn’t necessarily mean better.

If anything, the money seems to have gone to the film-makers’ heads, making a mockery of the film’s impressive credentials.

Aside from the obvious allure of catching up with the still-cool Riddick character, Chronicles should also benefit from its strong support cast (including Dame Judi Dench, as a mysterious ambassador from a rarefied race, and Thandie Newton, as a scheming Lady Macbeth-style Necromonger), and German-born Holger Gross’ eye-catching set designs.

But while it looks terrific and has the odd moment to savour, most of the good things become lost amid director, David Twohy’s convoluted plot and an over-reliance on special effects and fight scenes, which make it hard for viewers to care about what’s going on.

It remains to be seen, therefore, whether audiences will have the patience to see the film through to its dark, open-ended conclusion.

Riddick fans may be better off sticking to the special edition DVD of Pitch Black, or pitting their wits against the computer game tie-in, since this eventually becomes crippled by the weight of its own pretensions, and ends up feeling like a ponderous exercise in pointless special effects.

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