The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury
You won't find furnishings like this at Ikea
Emru Townsend · July 4, 2004 | Like Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, the two live-action features that bracket it, The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury's plot is wafer-thin. Also like the two other movies, that's not a problem. Pitch Black creator David Twohy's universe has generally been one with only three rules: everything is art-directed half to death, Vin Diesel's silver-eyed Riddick is the baddest bad-ass ever, and people die in creative and terrifying ways. It sounds mindless, and I suppose in a certain sense it is. But it's also solid, entertaining B-movie fare.

For all of those reasons, Twohy was wise to tap Peter Chung to direct this half-hour installment in the Riddick series. He may have been swayed by Chung's Matriculated segment of The Animatrix, but Dark Fury actually has more in common with Æon Flux, his 1991 short (and, a few years later, series) with the same salient features as the Twohyverse. His particular style also suits the plot: immediately after their escape from the planet in Pitch Black, Riddick, the imam and the young girl Jack are captured by Chillingsworth, a woman who is obsessed with the act of killing. Although she keeps a collection of the known universe's worst killers (kept in a near-death stasis and posed as statuary), she wants to keep Riddick alive as the crown jewel. Naturally, he has other plans.

The four characters that are also in the live-action films are voiced by the films' actors, providing a certain aural continuity. Vin Diesel's performance is, oddly enough, the weakest. Like someone overcompensating for speaking too quickly, Riddick's laconic delivery becomes too measured, sliding from cool to bored to half-asleep. It's a shame, because like Keith David (who plays the imam), his voice is rich enough to be a character unto itself.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury
Universal Home Video, 2004
Directed by Peter Chung
30 minutes

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Maybe that's the reason that I found the real star of Dark Fury to be Peter Chung's work. I've always liked the elastic quality he gives his characters, and it works surprisingly well in Dark Fury, even though several characters resemble their live-action counterparts. But more than anything else I love his design work and his sense of the grotesque. Both play out well here, especially in the scene where Riddick is led through Chillingsworth's gallery. In one of the included featurettes, Chung makes the seemingly counterintuitive statement that computers make animation more organic. It's that approach, working outside of conventional wisdom, that's given all of his work a certain bizarre allure, and Dark Fury is no exception.

What's Good: Peter Chung.

What's Bad: If you need stories with more meat, look elsewhere.

DVD Features: Making-of featurette; complete animatic; interview with Peter Chung; preview featurette for The Chronicles of Riddick; French and Spanish subtitles; closed captioning.
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