Battle Los AngelesIts a good film, but its not a great film. I've noticed that some films are mirroring video games and going for the experiential "it's like being there" angle, I haven't seen it work yet (explicit first-person plots like Cloverfield excepted).

Like most modern high budget games, the set pieces are really impressive conceptually, but I never really felt like I got to appreciate them. Things move too fast, the camera whip-pans all over the place. I get the sense of driving quickly by an elaborate shop window display, I'm sticking my head out the window trying to get a better look, frustrating.

Oddly enough, in the action parts I was waiting for a character pause, and in the character pauses I was waiting for more action. Character pause is the right term here because that's literally what it is, stopping for a few minutes to exchange some dry plot-fuel before ramming instructions for the next sub-quest at the audience. Normally I'm ok with that, but here it's unsatisfying (see the postscript for why that is).

Thing's aren't helped at all by the accursed PG13 violence and language, which makes all the dialogue even more strained (forget believable troopers who don't swear likeā€¦ well, troopers). There's no real sense of peril here, when you don't see any blood, you don't feel any danger.

I never really dropped out of my seat and into the world, I was always aware of being in the cinema. That's hard to get right, but isn't that really what you want when you go to the movies?

PS: This post really sums up one of the major flaws here, another expensive lesson learned for the cost of a ticket.

The Chronicles of Riddick I'm a night owl and while I work away into the morning hours I like to play movies in the background. There's a certain type of movie that fits the bill. It has the be action focused, with a good visual style and more importantly, strong audio and dialogue, as you listen more than you watch. Any smouldering tension or complex storylines are a no go, they are too distracting. A film like Chronicles is a perfect choice, and it's in the regular rotation.

I'm not saying I enjoy it 'cause its bad, on the contrary I admire this film. Wikipedia tells me the budget is USD 105 million, and I believe every cent is up there on the screen. Some of the sets are awe inspiring, and are very reminiscent of Dune, the action set pieces never feel small. I also like the running time, its got a pleasing number of arcs. That's very important when you don't want to be distracted thinking of what film to play next.

As for Vin Diesel, well its the part he was born to play, so its no surprise he's so fond of the character. Which leads me on to the scene I want to talk about today.

The Setup

  • Riddick is on the prison planet Crematoria reuniting with an old friend Kyra, who is running into some problems with the resident rape gang
  • He advises them to depart while they still can, unsurprisingly, they decline..

The Characters

The Scene

  1. Riddick calmly advises the rape gang to departGenerally, as a bad guy, when someone is this nonchalant, you should be asking yourself why
  2. They quite rightly point out that he's only armed with a soup cupIm pleased to see theres a wide choice of food and beverages
  3. Riddick informs them that its actually a tea cup, and yes, that's all he needsAlso surprising that some of the most dangerous prisoners in the solar system are given jagged metal cups
  4. He places it on a suspiciously convenient ledge shaped rockYou'll notice in the film thats theres actually a perfectly shaped bump to splay the lip of the cup open when struck from above
  5. The classic 'ragged metal cup to the chest' moveDidn't From Dusk Till Dawn address the challenges of successfully pushing objects through the bone and muscle of a human torso
  6. Riddick shows them the next improvised killing instrumentI can see how you could injure someone with this, but I'm curious to see how you could deal a death blow with it
  7. They key from a sardine tin, niceI suspect the bad guys returned later for this, its a nightmare opening a tin without one
  8. The bad guys get the messageI like the practicality of leaving the corpse behind

Amusing deaths and witty one liners are the staple of a solid action movie, and here Chronicles does not disappoint. A character like Riddick is perfectly fit to deliver both, which is a big part of this movies appeal.

Oh I almost forgot..

The fantastically bizarre Lensors..One of the odd touches that helps set the film apart from the standard military sci-fi muster