| With the enormous success of the low budget science fiction thriller
Pitch Black (2000), a smart and stylishly directed picture, some sort of
sequel seemed obvious to the makers of the film. Actor Vin Diesel became
a major star with that film as Riddick, a convict fighting off nasty
nocturnal creatures that come seeking flesh. That film launched Diesel
onto the path he is currently on, that is as a star of action thrillers.
In terms of actual acting talent, I think there are serious limitations
there, however, in the right role, with the right director; he carries
the same sort of presence as Sylvester Stallone in his best films. |
Once again on the run from the law, and those on the other side of
it, Riddick is being pursued by mercenaries who hope to nail the career
criminal. The chase is ruined when an army of Necromongers move into
action, stealing the souls of everyone they encounter, and for those who
do not convert, they meet their doom. Riddick is once again approached
to fight evil, this time by a lonely minister, Imam (David Keith) one of
the very few survivors of the last film. Like all great heroes, Riddick
just wants to be left alone.
And again like all great heroes, he finds he cannot stay out of the
war and becomes an unwitting catalyst to the action. He will indeed
fight on the side of good in his own manner, and those who think to
question what he is doing, best re-think that process.
As Riddick, Diesel once again delivers a solid performance, never
exploring the depths of character, but instead, providing audiences with
a hero to root for. Like the great actors before him, John Wayne,
Sylvester Stallone and even Governor Arnold, Diesel seems to know that
he is the focus of a scene the moment he walks into it because of his
sheer size. The man is a mountain, and that bulk is put to great use in
this exciting film. His character, a convict in the first film, becomes
essentially a super hero over the course of the second.
Canadian actor Colm Feore, brilliant in everything he does, is
astounding here as Lord Marshall, the leader of the Necromongers.
Dripping evil and menace in his voice and the manner in which he carries
himself throughout the film, Feore steals every single scene he is in.
This is a villain who thrives on being such because he does not think
what he is doing is wrong, it simply is what he believes, which is what
makes him truly frightening. Long a Canadian institution, Feore has
often been seen in major American films, but never had a role as
substantial as this. He elevates the material and film to another level,
finding in his character everything that is treacherous and cruel, and
genuinely terrifying the audience. This is a marvelous performance that
just might be remembered come Oscar time.
In supporting roles are Judi Dench and Thandie Newton, though make no
mistake, this is not a film for women.
Director Twohy put the budget money to great use in finding the look
for his film. The massive sets are beautifully shot, giving the film an
epic quality unmatched by anything on screen this year. The visual
effects and sound editing within the film is flawless, plunging the
audience into another world.
The mark of a great science fiction is the ability of the filmmakers
to transport the audience to another place and time, without ever having
a question raised about the logistics. Though The Chronicles of Riddick
is certainly not on par with the great science fictions such as 2001: A
Space Odyssey (1968), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) or Blade
Runner (1982), it still is an excellent addition to the genre. A solid
entertainment for the summer months; this seems to be a new franchise