starring Vin Diesel, Colm Feore, Thandie Newton, Judi Dench
written and directed by David Twohy
by Walter Chaw David Twohy constructs films from ideas and images borrowed from the well of archetype--Shakespeare ("Julius Caesar" and "Macbeth" in particular), Greek theatre and mythology, Joseph Campbell by way of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg--and he sometimes does so at the expense of transitional scenes or traditional narrative sense. There's a gestalt to his work, if not much linearity, sparing no time for niceties like how a character arms himself, or how such nifty details as the hero's ability to navigate like a biological sextant comes into play, but in the case of Twohy and, in particular, The Chronicles of Riddick, the gestalt is enough. The picture is a survey of George Lucas's original Star Wars trilogy, of all four Alien films, of dashes of Jeunet and Caro's French phantasms, and of David Lynch's Dune, with--and I mean this in a good way--just a smidge of Flash Gordon factored in: a parade of black leather-clad grotesqueries inhabit a lushly imagined future (breaking records for lumber usage in its Vancouver construction) in a film that attempts to tell old stories in a new way and, for the most part, succeeds with an agreeable level of whiz-bang. Occasionally it succeeds brilliantly, as in a late shot of its anti-hero Riddick (Vin Diesel) slumped on a Giger throne before throngs of rubber jack-suited storm troopers, which stimulates not just for the audacity of its scale, but also for the comparisons it summons to the "Orestiea" and "Titus Andronicus."