DVD
The Chronicles of Riddick

Starring: Vin Diesel, Dame Judi Dench and Thandie Newton
Universal Pictures
RRP 19.99
8227463
Certificate: 15
Available 03 January 2005


Riddick is on the run. Escaping from mercenaries determined to collect the price on his head, he finds himself at the heart of a battle that is not his. With Necromonger conquerors threatening the future of the entire universe, Riddick could be the only unlikely hero to save the human race. But will he be interested in saving anything other than his own life?...

Upon its theatrical release, The Chronicles of Riddick received a fair serving of negative criticism. After the taut and innovative Pitch Black, Chronicles compared as a big, floppy overblown bucket of nonsense that stirred the rancour of nearly every fan of the film that preceded it.

Now that tempers have eased, the DVD release of Chronicles has been met with a gentler reception. Certainly, those expecting more of Pitch Black are still hobbled by the shell-shock and may never fully recover, but for the rest of us, the small-screen seems a more fitting place for Chronicles. The daft, pulpy, B-grade science-fiction elements appear less vulgar, and instead a half-decent, dramatic narrative takes precedence. The film's highlight is a sudden shift of focus from Helion Prime to the hellish sphere of Crematoria. It is here where the film does its best work, and we can forget for a while the silly Necromongers (characters surely conceived by a 13-year old).

The special effects are another reason why Chronicles is more enjoyable at home than on a Friday night out. While still noticeable, the moments of poor CGI and shoddy blue/green screen are thankfully less offensive, and one is able instead to appreciate the rich and imaginative design concepts. My personal favourite is the engines that power the Necromonger ships: they inhale rather than propulse!

Credit is due to Vin Diesel. Were it not for his presence, Chronicles would be nothing but boring. He held the film together at the cinema and does here on DVD. Diesel has a natural authority and confidence that draws the eye and ear (he is, after all, one of the major reasons why Pitch Black is so good), and now with the reduced background noise of the film's poorer points, Diesel is really good fun to watch, even if he is playing a violent, morally ambiguous thug. Sadly, Colm Feore as the Lord Marshal, and the villain of the piece, has less impact. He fails to convince as a diabolic warrior, the pitch being more that of corporate weasel.

Anyhoo, crack open a beer, gobble some pizza and relax and enjoy. There are worse films out there.

Jeff Watson

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£13.99 (Amazon.co.uk)
   
£16.99 (MVC.co.uk)
   
£13.79 (Powerplaydirect.com)

All prices correct at time of going to press.