The Chronicles of Riddick ditches the R rated horror of Pitch Black for a PG-13 action flick. I may not have known about Pitch Black, but I remember seeing a trailer for the sequel very well. It was released right as Vin Diesel’s stardom was beginning to rise. Suddenly a simple sci-fi horror movie wasn’t enough for Richard B. Riddick. The Chronicles of Riddick is a fitting title since it goes for an overly complex story with larger than life villains and an all-star cast. Instead of nocturnal alien creatures, Riddick faces the multi-face masked Lord Marshal and his army of Necromongers. They have laid waste to entire planets and converted their inhabitants.
The movie introduces ideas like an Underverse, elementals, soul stealing supernatural powers, and a prophecy that foretells Marshal’s demise. It’s way more action than I’d expect from a space criminal like Riddick, but he’s just the Furyan for the job. In the time since his escape, Riddick has been outrunning bounty hunters. His price is linked to one of two Pitch Black survivors. Keith David returns as the Muslim preacher Imam when he suspects Riddick is a Furyan. Jack (the teenage boy who was really a girl) returns later on as a badass fighter named Kyra played by Alexa Davalos.
The rest of the cast includes Colm Feore as Marshal, Karl Urban as his scheming subordinate Vaako, Thandie Newton as Vaako’s manipulative wife, and Dame Judi Dench as a wind elemental. The middle act is pretty disconnected when Riddick is brought to a prison planet by miscellaneous mercenaries. The PG-13 rating may be lame, but at least his sun scorched rescue and “death by teacup” is pretty cool. The ending is especially unexpected as Riddick claims the Necromonger throne after killing their leader. The Chronicles of Riddick shines in some areas, but increased scale was its downfall.