The necromancer fleet coming for a planet near you ...
The first thing I really like about the whole Riddick series is that there is a unique universe behind it; a story of its own. Whether you like this story or not, the very fact THAT THERE IS ONE is so rare and precious these days, it must be applauded.
The second thing I like is that the story isn't your typical Hollywood dross of good versus evil, or a re-run of Star Wars or Superman or in fact, any old 1920s short story or comic book from the days when EARTH STILL HAD WRITERS!
The writer/director David Twohy actually says that he was wondering about a universe where everyone was a villain; and yeah, all and every character, from the mercs to the double dealing cleric and from the prison inmates to the necromancers are in fact, villains.
Two villains facing off
This gives the film's characters a level of subtlety that you will be hard pressed to find in many other places. It might also make the Riddick world uncomfortable to the apple pie loving audience, and could be a reason for the unfriendly reception this movie has received.
Personally, I admire any attempt at creating other worlds and having them be real.
Attention to the overall design and then the details levels are critical.
In many movies that deal with other worlds what they do these days is to turn the colour down so you can't see what's going on (thus saving themselves a lot of work in the process, see Aliens VS Predators Requiem - yuck!) or using endless motion blur to the same effect.
In the Chronicles of Riddick, the details level is superb.
Bullet Chess Set
This delightful chess set made from futuristic bullets is a case in point. But the cohesive design goes through everything, the wardrobe is spectacular, and the sets truly alien and stunning.
There are some very good actors in this movie, doing a very good job indeed, giving their best effort and that is certainly something I feel from the entire production - someone really tried to make something special here.
I think that is the key to the Chronicles of Riddick.
It is special for that level of love and attention lavished upon it. Of course, Vin Diesel is Vin Diesel, but also, this is as much his defining role in the longer term and scheme of things, much as Mad Max was for Mel Gibson.
The Chronicles of Riddick also contains one of the most elegant exits by a villain, very beautifully framed and elegant in its absence of pathos. Cudos to the actor who plays the second Furyian, and whose name I can't figure out for hell or high water (tell me if you know!).*
* Update: The actor is Linus Roache. Good job, Linus!
A Furian's Death
This is an excellent movie, with many surprising features, moving through many environments. There is lots and lots of action, but the action has a purpose and is never action for action's sake (another one of these lamentable Hollywood dross problems I so deplore), but makes sense in the context of the story.
Finally, Riddick is an action hero. He really is, and it is always a privilege and a pleasure to see someone do something that they are really good at, really well.
I guess that goes for everything in The Chronicles of Riddick - somehow everyone who was involved, from the make up artists to the set designers, from the special effects people to the extras, and from the actors to the sound people seem to HAVE BEEN ALLOWED to put their best effort in - and it shows.
Crematoria Sunrise - Beautiful!
I predict that this movie is going to go on and find more and more fans as time goes by; for me personally, it was one of the very few highlights in a decade of sheer movie disappoint and never-ending heartless, soulless dross.
SFX March 2010