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The Chronicles of Riddick
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Chronicles of Riddick is a sci-fi action movie that isn't very good, and has intense and graphic violence, including people getting fried in intense heat and a lot of fighting. Characters are in constant peril and many are killed, there are a few four-letter words, and a character speaks of being forced into prostitution. The movie's few strengths are that there are diverse characters on both sides and the way it makes clear that the good guys stand for tolerance.
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What's the story?
Pitch Black was an outer space horror film about a group stranded on a planet with some very scary creatures. One member of the group was Riddick (Vin Diesel), a convict being transported to prison. His ability to see in the dark made him the group's best hope for survival. In this sequel, Riddick (Diesel again) is once more the best hope for survival, this time of just about everyone. An evil race called the Necromancers is capturing planets as it moves toward its interplanetary version of something between Mecca and Valhalla. They offer the inhabitants of each planet two choices -- surrender or death -- and they don't really care which one they pick. The leader of the Necromancers, Lord Marshal (Colm Feore) has been told that he will be killed by a member of the Furia race, so he has ordered all of them killed. But one remains -- Riddick -- and as soon as he says, "It's not my fight," you know he'll be opening up a can of whup-ass on just about everyone pretty soon or it would be a pretty short movie.
Is it any good?
THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK almost makes it as a brainless popcorn summer explosion movie. The movie's graphics are very striking, especially the neo-fascist baroque of the Necromancer's massive weapons, armor, machinery, and monuments, and the enormous underground prison on a planet with temperature swings of hundreds of degrees. It's nice to see someone thinking up advanced technology that's not computer based. Instead of digital read-outs there are some fascinating mechanical contraptions. There are also some good action sequences and some cool special effects.
But the script is a dumbed-down version of The Matrix, complete with characters who are hooked into soul-destroying machinery through their necks, with a little bit of (heaven help us) Battlefield Earth thrown in for bad measure. The names are so unimaginatively obvious they border on parody, with the angry race called the Furia and the hot planet called Crematoria. The dialogue is dreadful. Thandie Newton plays the Lady Macbeth-style scheming wife of one of Lord Marshall's henchmen with a space-age mullet. She looks lovely but gives a ludicrously over-the-top performance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the inspiration for some of the movie's terms like "Necromancer" and "Crematoria." Where does the movie draw inspiration from? Do you notice any literary or historical references?
What is the appeal of intensely violent movies like this one? What kind of emotional experience does it offer viewers?