ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  david twohy

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  sci-fi

LENGTH  -  119 minutes

RELEASED  -  11 june 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  universal pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  riddick

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $120,000,000
the chronicles of riddick - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from the chronicles of riddick at

buy the dvd from the chronicles of riddick at

riddick, now a hunted man, finds himself in the middle of two opposing forces in a major intergalactic war.


poster from the chronicles of riddick
buy the poster

judi dench's dress was made from crushed swarovski crystal.


picture from the chronicles of riddick

picture from the chronicles of riddick

picture from the chronicles of riddick

picture from the chronicles of riddick


three out of four possible stars

A bold entry into the science fiction genre, The Chronicles of Riddick doesn't so much pick up after its predecessor Pitch Black left off as much as it attempts to create something different in the world of the space cowboy. Possessing a fine balance of action sequences, humor, and truly imaginative special effects, you might find yourself fully believing the countless and high-flying stunts engaged in by various cast members. Whether they are twisting in mid-air, catapulting knives across a room toward a moving target, or swinging on suspended ropes that dangle from holes in the ceiling, the creators of this film let you know that it's an action film in every single scene.

Actually, they don't just let you know with a light tap on the shoulder or a whisper in the ear. Instead they slap you over the head with various improbable stunts and action vignettes every chance they get. For fans of swiftly choreographed fight sequences that aren't like every other cookie-cutter spot of hand-to-hand combat. Far from take the current popular road of making sure every character in the film somehow seems to have a graceful and deadly black-belt in some ancient Chinese martial art, the people in this film duke it out with driving, visceral action that is complimented well by some impressive Foley work.

One of the reasons the film succeeds as a popcorn munching summer diversion is because that important element of humor is never left off the table for too long. The characters are more believable because they joke with one another yet still know how to take a running leap into the abyss. The screenplay actually makes some inroads into "character," and though the beginning's back-story explanations probably could have been accomplished on the run (during the plot's advance instead of before it), each of the actors handles with efficiency the light reins of their roles. In the title role, Vin Diesel seems specifically made for the character of Riddick simply because of his physique, though his penchant for humor and a dry delivery float the story along with ease as well.

As the "Lord Marshall," head of the creepy race of "Necromangers" that have been sweeping across the galaxy and sucking planets dry, Colm Feore is a strong force, as is Karl Urban, who plays "Vaako," Feore's second in command. In her surprising appearance, Judi Dench gives the production definite flavor playing an elemental who can transform into wind and back to human form at will. Thandie Newton gives a strong if sometimes overly dramatic performance as the manipulative "Dame Vaako," and in his small role, Linus Roache takes a path not often taken (he is usually to be seen in period films) and wears his platinum blonde hair well.

This movie has an impressive creative force behind it regarding production design and costuming (two seemingly inseparable elements) and instead of taking the usually trodden road of placing all the characters in medieval costuming (why does it science fiction films so often feature people clothed in tights?), there is a strong Middle Eastern feel to the clothing and architecture - a track that has very seldom been taken in costuming.

Graeme Revell does a stunning job with the musical score, creating a unique sound that in some ways seems plucked out of medieval Constantinople yet is also sweeping enough to accommodate the endless planetary vistas and deep space views that occupy much of the picture. Probably created with the visual effects in mind, Hugh Johnson, the cinematographer, respects the characters (by letting them take a more important stage than the special effects), but also makes it easy for viewers to appreciate the extensive special effects. In most science fiction films that take place in space, the special effects are usually given such great importance as to nearly become an additional character for the film.

And Riddick is no exception. The filmmakers never tire of whipping out the scenic vistas or the hundreds of complex spaceships that inhabit the film. But beyond the visuals, there is also an emphasis on making those pieces of machinery and buildings gritty and worn. The spaceships have dents and dings and the buildings have water damage. Nothing seems untouched by the passing of time, and the film's environment and overall believability is enhanced by the attention to the "wear and tear" of objects (like ships) created entirely in a computer.

This film is certainly not one for people interested in a laid-back and relaxing time at the cinema. Riddick is an action film to its core and is a fine example of its genre. Vin Diesel is the quintessential Hollywood action hero (even though his character is "evil" in this film's story) and as a producer on the film, he should feel proud of the artful adventure he's helped to create. The various technical and creative departments that helped to conceive this movie seem to have come together at just the right time. It's been several years since a truly entertaining science fiction film came along that could handle all the necessary elements (visuals, action, laughter) and not seem bloated or top-heavy (or even the reverse as sometimes sci-fi arrogant and self-important). The Chronicles of Riddick bounces along at a fine pace, entertaining the viewer with creativity on all fronts.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content 2000 - 2005 - ninth symphony films - photographs universal pictures 2004
home | archive | ratings | links | about | contact