tek's rating: ½

The Chronicles of Riddick (PG-13/unrated)
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Caution: spoilers.

This came out in 2004, but I didn't see it until 2018. It's the first full sequel to Pitch Black, though it's preceded chronologically by a direct to DVD short film, Dark Fury. That short film introduced a merc named Toombs, who also appears in this film. Unlike the first movie, which was sci-fi/horror/action, "The Chronicles of Riddick" is more science fantasy/action. And... while watching it, I kind of thought I'd want to rate it a bit higher than the first movie, but after I'd finished it, I decided to rate it slightly lower. I still definitely liked it, and I'm not quite sure which movie I liked more, but... on some level, I think the existence of the first movie is more important than the existence of this one. It's a close call, though. This movie is more epic and cool, but the first one was more original, and... less Hollywood-y.

Anyway... at the start of the movie, Riddick has been in hiding for five years. Toombs and his team show up and try to capture him, but Riddick ends up ditching them and stealing their ship. He goes to New Mecca, where he had dropped off Imam Abu al-Walid and Jack shortly after the events of "Dark Fury." (Before this movie, I always thought New Mecca was the name of a planet, but now it turns out to be a city on a planet called Helion Prime.) The Imam had apparently been the one to put a bounty on Riddick, so of course he wanted to find out why... and get the bounty rescinded. It turns out the Imam is working with a member of a race called Elementals, named Aereon (Judi Dench). They wanted to find Riddick so he could fight an army that had been conquering lots of planets and forcing people to convert to their religion, which is about something called the "Underverse." These people are called Necromongers, and they're led by someone called the Lord Marshal (Colm Feore), who is apparently the only person to have actually seen the Underverse, so now he's like half ghost, or something. Riddick also meets the Imam's wife, Lajjun, and their daughter, Ziza. And then the Necromongers show up and invade Helion Prime, killing the Imam in the process. Riddick kills some of them, but is eventually captured. But he escapes again, and then is captured by Toombs and his new team, having tracked his ship to the planet.

Toombs decides to take Riddick to a triple-max prison planet called Crematoria, to collect a bounty on him there. While in prison, he reunites with Jack, who now calls herself Kyra (and is now played by Alexa Davalos, replacing Rhiana Griffith). Um... I don't think I ever mentioned Jack in my review of "Pitch Black," but I did mention her in my review of "Dark Fury." There, I simply referred to her as a girl, but I might as well mention now that in the first movie, she was pretending to be a boy. Anyway, in the years since Riddick left her on Helion Prime, she had left that planet to find him, and in the intervening years became a criminal and a major badass. Riddick doesn't plan on remaining on Crematoria for long, so he plans a breakout, along with Kyra and some other prisoners (the main one being a guy called "the Guv"). Meanwhile, the Lord Marshal has sent one of his best commanders, Vaako (Karl Urban), to find Riddick and kill him. But Vaako's wife (played by Thandie Newton) wants Vaako to kill the Lord Marshal... eventually... and take the position, himself. (I don't recall ever hearing his wife's name in the movie. Wikipedia calls her "Dame Vaako," and it's only there, while working on this review, that I learned she was actually Vaako's wife. While watching the movie, I thought she was the Lord Marshal's wife, and was having an affair with Vaako.) When Vaako and his Necromongers arrive on Crematoria, the prison staff plan to escape from the planet, but the hanger is quite far removed from the prison itself, and the car that goes between the two places is out of commission, so they have to walk (or run) through underground tunnels, or whatever. Meanwhile, Riddick and the other prisoners have to run on the surface, and try to beat the guards to the hanger. To add to the drama, they are also racing against the coming dawn, because the light of the sun is strong enough to burn everyone and everything in its path. (I thought this was a rather neat reversal of the darkness being the great danger in the first movie.)

Well, I don't want to spoil much more of what happens. I do want to say that there are some new plot points introduced, including Riddick being from a race called Furyans, and he is apparently the last of his kind. I'm not entirely clear on this, but I think his unique eyes are revealed to be a trait of his people, rather than the result of surgery, as he had claimed in the first movie. Also, there are occasional scenes in which Riddick has visions of a Furyan woman, whom I learned online is called Shirah, and apparently she's only in the director's cut of the movie. I didn't really understand anything about her scenes, anyway, but I did want to learn more about her... as well as about the Furyan race in general, and their history, and a prophecy that is apparently about Riddick. Anyway... I guess I don't know what else to say, but I thought it was a reasonably entertaining movie.

science fiction index

Pitch Black * Dark Fury * The Chronicles of Riddick * Riddick