Pitch Black (David Twohy, 2000). I had never seen any Riddick movies, but I know I’ll be there when the new one comes out (it has Katee Sackhoff). So I thought I’d catch up. Pitch Black is genre fare, but I thought it worked well. Diesel is a fine action star (and a solid actor, as well), the special effects are just special enough, and the look of the film is interesting (thanks probably to cinematographer David Eggby, who did the first Mad Max movie as well). There is nothing new here, but it doesn’t matter when the same old same old is done well. 7/10.
The Chronicles of Riddick (David Twohy, 2004). OK, Katee, I’m ready for your sideboob now. As noted above, this is prep work for the upcoming Riddick. This second in the series suffers from a fate similar to the Terminator franchise. The Terminator was a cheap, punkish classic of coiled energy. Terminator 2 had a budget 15 times that of the original, and it was certainly dazzling and a fine movie, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the cheapo first flick. The Chronicles of Riddick had around 5 times the budget of Pitch Black, and you can see the money on the screen, as they say. But its look (which is where a lot of the money was spent) isn’t as interesting as what Twohy and his crew cooked up for the cheapie original. The sequel is longer, has half-a-dozen more plot threads than Pitch Black, and is pretty much a step down. Off the top of my head, the only time this stuff worked was with Mad Max/Road Warrior, where the sequel had a bigger budget and a hugely expanded ambition. And even there, I may be in the minority … lots of people thought Mad Max was the better of the two. (And even George Miller fell victim to the curse with Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, which had 6 times the budget of Road Warrior and was the worst movie of the series.) Riddick has about 1/3 the budget of Chronicles, so maybe it will be a good one. And it does have Katee Sackhoff and her sideboob. 6/10.