The Chronicles of Riddick Review

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Outlaw antihero Riddick (Diesel) is back and standing in the way of a galaxy-wide crusade by all-out scumbags the Necromongers, who are so evil even their haircuts are scary. In the meantime, there is an old face to rescue: Kyra (Davalos), the girl he saved and then abandoned.


Those without the benefit of having caught Pitch Black, the muscular predecessor to this hulking new blockbuster, should be warned that Richard B. Riddick is not a man in touch with his feminine side. In fact, he's a pumped-up sour-puss with surgically reconfigured night vision, dashing around reaping mayhem because in this ghastly far-flung future, popping a chill pill is not on the itinerary. And isn't it always the way? As you're striving to be the ultimate badass in the galaxy, you keep getting roped in to save the day.

Such is Vin Diesel's lot as this beefcake Snake Plissken replica five years after fighting off a herd of alien-bat thingees, now thoroughly irritated to find himself at the epicentre of an inter-planetary crisis. Meanwhile, his director, David Twohy, is busy ramping up the scope of the franchise with demented levels of creative abandon.

There is no end of snazzy art direction, with impressive worlds built out of slabs of baroque CGI providing the playground for a potty-load of sci-fi hogwash about dastardly Necromongers on a quest for the Underverse - an evil nirvana where Chris Waddle mullets are all the rage.

Twohy's universe is a scattershot of cod-mythology refracted from Tolkien, 2000AD, Frank Herbert and the upper echelons of L. Ron Hubbard's featherbrained cyber-cult, Scientology.

Not that the film is entirely devoid of value. An inspired riff involving an oven-baked planet, with Riddick and crew sprinting to keep ahead of a molten sunrise, plus a sexy bad-girl spin on Lady Macbeth from Thandie Newton, temporarily lift the turgid Ping-Pong between mouthfuls of prophetic mumbo-jumbo and bloodless head-cracking. The combat is oddly techno-spare, opting for mano-a-mano physicality rather than zappy space opera.

And it does, at least, get its viewers thinking. Why was the hero christened Richard when everyone else goes by such tongue-swallowing sobriquets as Vaako and Irgun? And was that really our treasured Dame Judi enlisting her noble brow to this heavy metal fray? The pay day must have been sweet, as she now has to set Aereon, an incorporeal Elemental who wisps in and out of shape to explain the plot, alongside Queens Victoria and Elizabeth.

It’s no Battlefield Earth, but it’s no Dune either. And, no, before you ask, it’s not destined to be a cult classic.