As he pats the haunches of a prisoner-lunching dog at feeding time, notorious murderer Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) explains to a fellow inmate, “It’s an animal thing.” Diesel means to tell us in The Chronicles of Riddick that his Pitch Black (2000) killer hasn’t lost any of his ferocity, when in fact, Diesel’s shaved-head persona looks increasingly neutered—an extreme-sports Ken doll, complete with stunt car and generic tattoo accessories. Pitch Black, which featured an ensemble cast and an unproven director (screenwriter David Twohy, who returns), became an instant B-science-fiction classic by relying on low-budget suspense. In contrast, Riddick is a preening outer-space costume drama staged as a backdrop for its leading man’s muscles. Diesel once again gets conscripted to fight our aliens for us; this time he’s facing a digital army of humorless crusaders. It must be a sequel thing.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 8, 2004