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June 15, 2004

Riddick Immersion

These days before I go see a movie, I basically see one review in the form of a letter grade over at Yahoo. The Chronicles of Riddick got a C from the critics. I wonder what they were smoking.

Yesterday, at the Puente Hills Mall in their best theatre, which rivals the best I've been anywhere including the Bridge in Culver City, I saw the Chronicles of Riddick with the sound punched up to the max. This movie has the best sci-fi production design since Alien Resurrection. When it comes to other worlds and oddities in space, there are several flicks that come to mind. If you like, we can get into a top ten discussion here. Alien Resurrection, Minority Report, Event Horizon, Blade Runner, The Fifth Element. I'm putting Chronicles of Riddick into that company. Somebody needs to get an art direction and set design award here. No question.

The goofily named Necromongers' architecture is a burnished iron Roman motif that simply oozes power and pain. It's overwhelmingly masculine and stylistically dominating. When compared to the brute ugliness of Middle Earth's baddies, you kind of wonder why everyone was so afraid. Of course the Necros flip dice to decide which way they want to capture entire planets, no real comparison here. It's a good thing that the acting was so stiff, or the theory behind their evil would have been a bit more compelling. (The theory is essentially a ripoff of the Borg, but the Necros are way cooler than the Borg - as fanatic totalitarians go.)

The action sequences in COR are a mix of old and new. What's new is fairly exciting. Riddick is just about as violent as one can manage without a substantial amount of gore. As he rips through enemy after enemy, he does so with a blur of speed that makes it much less explicit than say Brad Pitt's Achilles. And while you must suspend logic for a moment to accept that he's stabbing warriors through armor plate that looks as thick as manhole covers, he does a convincing job of being almost unstoppable.

It also must be said that the environment plays a good role in this flick as well. On a planet with yet another cornball name: Crematoria, its sun is the implacable foe. This was done once with Armageddon, but this time the effect is way better. Freakin' scary that sunrise is.

The CG in COR is first rate. Swirly waves of anti-gravity exhale from the Necro spacecraft. Some truly frightening beasts rampage through an underground prison. A wispy Judy Dench proves to be the first *ever* believable apparitional creature (even better than the albino Matrix twins).

A lot of people thought Vin Diesel was off his nut when he turned down Fast & Furious 2, to do a Pitch Black prequel. It turns out that this film has everything it takes to become a cult classic. And guess what, the ending is brilliant.

Posted by mbowen at June 15, 2004 09:46 PM

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Damm Straight, solid movie.

Actually look reminds me of Dune.

But like the matrix it breaks new ground on the look.

And the story is Solid.

Rent Pitch black first if you haven't seen it yet.

Posted by: Scott at June 15, 2004 10:45 PM

I've learned to ignore critics. Watching movies has become a job to them. I just want to be entertained for about 2hrs and walk out of the theater without feeling like I was robbed.

Posted by: JJ at June 16, 2004 06:49 AM