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

2010I may have simple tastes but I prefer 2010 to 2001. I saw the sequel first, when I was about 10 years old, and I was keen to see the first film for some answers to the many questions I had. Perhaps as a child I was too young to appreciate 2001, but I found it unsatisfying. 2010 always seemed more accessible to me, the kind of film I would want to experience time and again.

I love the balance between accuracy and entertainment on show here, tipped just enough towards realism to be engaging, but not so much that you lose the excitement of the movie. This is a film first and foremost, and the story takes centre stage. The depiction of space travel may not represent how it will actually be in about 30 years time, but its how I imagined it would be, and to me, that’s more important.

And nothing conjures the imagination more than a space walk, which is the scene I want to talk about today.

The Setup

  • Following the events of the first film, the abandoned vessel Discovery is in orbit near the Jovian moon Io
  • A Russian vessel, the Leonov, is dispatched carrying American crew members attempting to salvage the Discovery and determine why her mission failed

The Characters

  • John Lithgow plays Dr. Walter Curnow, an engineer who is afraid of heights
  • Elya Baskin plays Max Brajlovsky, a friendly cosmonaut

The Scene

  • After reaching the vicinity of the Discovery, they must now execute a space walk to enter the rotating ship
  • Curnow is an engineer and is terrified of heights, he's having a difficult time composing himself for the ordeal
  • Max on the other hand seems very relaxed and helps Curnow throughout the walk, this is nicely contrasted with a role reversal shortly after they breach the Discovery

Over the eerily alien planetscape of Io the two men set out across the hundred or so metres between the two ships.

  1. They leave the Leonov and start toward the Discovery kuritsa1
  2. Curnow’s pulse is a little high, he starts fogging up kuritsa2
  3. 50 metres.. I love the planetscape below, inspirational
  4. Time for some small talk, Curnow asks Max the Russian for ‘chicken’ kuritsa4
  5. Ku-RRit-sa All the Russian I've ever needed I learned from this movie
  6. 10 metres.. kuritsa6
  7. Touchdown the shadows are moving as the ship rotates making the clinging action seem more reasonable

The weird sounds coupled with the ragged breathing, that’s what really sells this scene. The blend of Curnow’s rational humanity, and the completely alien environment beneath, and around him. I always felt this depiction of space was a good middle ground between the soundless vacuum of hard science fiction and the whizzing engine noises of video games. Its hosts some elements of humanity, but it still feels quite alien and barren.

Oh I almost forgot..

The disturbing image of the floating foetus..

The completely freaked me out when I was a kid, I watched through my fingers :)