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DVD Reviews : Diesel's epic runs out of gas; The Chronicles of Riddick (director's cut) Universal Pictures Cert: 15 DVD RRP: pounds 19.99.

Byline: Mo Ilyas

HHH He's one of the hottest action screen heroes around at the moment and while he may have dipped his toes into comedy recently with Disney's The Pacifier, Vin Diesel is probably best at home playing Riddick, the galactic anti-hero with night sight who made his first appearance in Pitch Black.

The sequel finds Riddick in self-imposed exile on the icy planet UV6 and hunted down by a team of mercenaries. Silly boys, they should've known better.

Of course he beats them, takes their ship and reluctantly heads back to civilisation to find out who put the price on his head.

It leads him to New Mecca on Helion Prime, where he confronts Imam (one of two people he rescued in Pitch Black). Inevitably, not everything is as it seems for Helion Prime is about to be invaded by the fearsome Necrogmongers, who ask only that you convert to their way (or else die before they lay waste to your planet) and join their own spiritual journey to their Underverse.

As the last of a warrior race, the Furyans, Riddick's got their number and sets about defeating the evil Lord Marshall (Colm Feore) while managing to slip in a trip to the prison planet Crematoria to rescue Jack, the girl everyone thought was a boy in Pitch Black, all grown up into Kyra (Alexa Davalos).

Where Pitch Black was low on budget but high on quality thanks largely to a basically simple plot and good characters, Chronicles is high on budget, action and production values but loses its way with a plot that gets bogged down in a quasi-religious, mythological, spiritual maze, with talk of the half-dead, Necropolis, the Basilica, New Mecca and so on. It would have been all so much simpler if it had stuck to the basic 'it takes evil to fight evil' premise.

That said, it's an entertaining and highly watchable yarn, with some great special effects and, especially, design.

Gravelly-voiced Vin (real name Mark Vincent, ahem) was born for this role. Karl Urban ignores his silly haircut to bring a great brooding presence as bad guy Vaako and our own Dame Judi Dench tries to bring a sense of dignity and decorum to proceedings as the Elemental Aereon.

Tthere's a great line in the extras with Vin proclaiming how he's wanted to work with the Dame for years and she reciprocates by saying how impressed her household is that she's in a film with a youngster like Vin.

The director's cut has about 15 minutes of additional footage, while extras on this two-disc set include the traditional director's commentary and cast interviews


Vin Diesel finds the sky falling in on his head in Chronicles
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 16, 2005
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