What in the name has happened to the science fiction genre as of late?
like those overrated Matrix films have taken the genre
by storm and made everyone else scamper off to copy them to the best of their
abilities without it being too obvious as to invoke claims of plagiarism. This
is what I like to call “The Matrix Effect”, not to be confused with
The Butterfly Effect. This ever-sweeping syndrome
has even spread to purveyors of solid genre entertainment such as David Twohy,
the writer and director of this pseudo sci-fi epic and much better films in the
past such as Below and The Arrival.
has concocted with The Chronicles of Riddick is an increasingly messy and
incomprehensible film that although it may attempt to be elegantly complicated
and intricate, is really just a bunch of mumbo jumbo devised by Twohy, who it
has been told, never really had any concrete plans for a spin-off from
Pitch Black but was coerced into doing this film
after being approached by Universal executives who saw potential in having a
second Vin Diesel led franchise after The Fast and the Furious.
The film’s plot has something
to do with Riddick, an ex-con who is on the run from interstellar planet to
interstellar planet until he finds himself getting caught up in a war against an
oppressive race called the Necromongers. What follows is much fighting and far
too much laborious talking; making this film almost a clone of the dreadful
Matrix Reloaded fiasco.
"The actors might as well be speaking gibberish for all the sense some
of the material makes . . ."
The film fails to work for
multiple reasons. Chief among them is the fact that the film’s lead, Diesel,
gives a one-note performance that may be somewhat fitting of his dark and dreary
character, but nonetheless grows tiresome rather quickly as he spouts off line
after line of corny dialogue in a vain attempt to sound profound yet be the
perfect example of an anti-hero that he can be. Diesel works better in
supporting roles like the one he had in the original Fast and Furious
where he was the yin to Paul Walker’s yang. He even showed some yet untapped
potential in the underrated Wall Street drama Boiler Room, once again in
a supporting role. I’m sorry, but this guy is just not good enough or
self-effacing enough to be the next action hero and take over the throne once
held by the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger, who never was a very good actor
but was appropriately self-mocking and had an imminently watchable screen
presence to burn in starring in some of the best science fiction films of all
time with The Terminator franchise and
Total Recall, among others. The Rock gets my vote as
the next big action hero. Here’s to hoping he claims what is his for the taking.
The film isn’t helped by a
supporting cast that may not give as vapid performances as Diesel, but seem even
more dumbfounded by a script chock full of lines it is likely no one other than
Twohy could understand in their right mind. They might as well be speaking
gibberish for all the sense some of the material makes. This is perhaps the most
dense science fiction psychobabble this side of L. Ron Hubbard’s
Battlefield Earth saga, which I myself have read
and seen the awful resulting film with John Travolta.
Not all is lost with the film
though, as the 100 million plus budget is obviously on display with some
stunning production design and special effects that are fun to look at and would
be even more so if we cared what happened to any of the characters.
The Chronicles of Riddick
is a science fiction film that has the distinction of attempting to be a
combination of two somewhat beloved film/novels: Battlefield Earth and
The Matrix. In combining both, Twohy has somehow made
a film that will instead be liked by no one once word-of-mouth spreads after a
large opening weekend.
- Joe Rickey
Big and dumb – like its star! Not particularly original, and
it OD’s on CGI effects. Still, it’s not quite as bad as some critics have made
it out to be and will make for a passable brainless video rental on a Friday
evening after a tiring week. — James O'Ehley