Planets = Big Towns. One of the problems with Space Opera style science fiction is that it tends just to scale up normal adventure fiction into the larger sizes of the universe. Therefore we get spaceships that do trips of a few thousand light years in a couple of days, thrilling space chases which neglect the physics of the situation, and planets which are really just big towns.

The Chronicles Of Riddick, in attempting to open out the universe of Pitch Black, makes this mistake. Riddick jaunts from a chase on the ice world, to the exact same spot the bad guys land on the orange world, off to the prison planet… Mankind may well have spead its way across the galaxy, but are we really expecting that a whole terraformed planet will only be used for one thing? The planet Crematoria (much better when I misheard it as Queen Victoria) has surface temperatures of 600 degrees in the day, useful as a cheap blast furnace. Crematoria is also the scene of the stupidest corollary of the planets as towns syndrome, the bit where they try to outrun the sunset.

Pointing out the poor science in sci-fi films is half the fun, but here it just screams at you. The good guys have escaped from prison (they are only sort of good guys) and need to travel twenty kilometres to get to the spaceship. The sun is rising and the temperature in directly sunlight is over 600 degrees. However so some reason its a tolerable twenty degrees in the dark. So we get the rosy fingers of dawn, which do not particularly raise the temperature. We get people occasionally being in full sunlight now getting burnt. Oh, and we also have others being completely vapourised.

The Chronicles Of Riddick is part one of a trilogy which probably will not get made, and ends in a somewhat unsatisfactory way. It is fun, but as stupid as you would imagine a film where the bad guys are the Necromongers searching for the Underverse. Its a bit like the worst strip in 2000AD. There are plenty of attempts to make this a different type of franchise (anti-hero bad guy, high incidence of death, a sound effect free fight sequence) but it is all surface without the reasons explained. Not that we need any more of Judi Dench explaining stuff for us (her main role). Watch it on video and scratch your head a bit.

(Oh and sorry Magnus, the other film I went to see started so I saw this instead.)