Ah, Riddick. Now there's a man who can undress you with his eyes.
If you are ever going to get stranded on an inhospitable planet with anyone, forget Arnie, forget Bruce. Vin Diesel is the man we women would choose to be stranded with.
This immense, Dune-like movie is the follow up to the tasty little sci-fi potboiler Pitch Black. In spite of its limitations, Pitch Black proved to be a winner, with Diesel in the lead as the mysterious Riddick, the man who had his eyes modified to see in the dark.
Five years on, and Riddick is once again in the hands of bounty hunters. Fortunately, he hasn't lost his sense of humor, or his skill at getting into and out of trouble. But things have changed while he was out of circulation. Now a powerful group known as the Necromongers are trashing planets and generally behaving very badly.
Two survivors besides Riddick were left after the events of Pitch Black. One of them, Imam, has returned home, and the other, Jack, has disappeared. Jack was, of course, a girl masquerading as a boy, with an overwhelming desire to be just like her hero, Riddick.
She too has aged five years into a comely young woman called Kyra, played by Alexa Davalos. She has become her former hero, a cold blooded psycho doing time.
But this is so far removed from Pitch Black, that sometimes the two movies seem barely related. Production values have gone through the roof, and among the cast are Thandie Newton as a slithery and sinuous member of Necromonger aristocracy, and Karl Urban (Eomer from Lord of the Rings) as her hapless husband.
Even Grande Dame Judi Dench makes an appearance as an ethereal creature called Aeron, an Elemental. Diesel apparently wooed the Dame to be in this movie, sending her flowers and turning on the charm. Nice to know one of England's greatest actresses is as dotty about this man as the rest of us more humble mortals.
I mentioned before that the movie has some of the qualities of that great 80s sci-fi epic, Dune. The lavish sets and political back stabbings of the Necromancers are a case in point. So is the look of the sets, and the Necromancer's technology has that slightly valve-driven look of Dune. But another movie comes to mind at the end.
The plot is almost impossibly convoluted, but basically Riddick is recruited by Aeron to help rid the universe of the evil Necromongers. The end contains a twist that most viewers will get long before then, and closes on a scene that reminds me of Conan the Destroyer. With this movie, there is another similarity to the Conan movies - there was supposed to be a third, that hasn't eventuated.
Are the similarities deliberate? I prefer of think of Chronicles of Riddick to be a homage to a time when we expected our sci fi and fantasy to be this lavish.
The plot is really too bewildering to unravel. I don't advise you to try and figure it out either. Just sit back, munch the popcorn and ruminate on the way Vin Diesel looks when he's all sweaty and shiny. Kind of like Arnie at his best.
Ah wait a minute! Now I get the point.
I paid for this DVD with my own funds.
Riddick Trilogy (Pitch Black/ The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury/ The Chronicles of Riddick)