Home > Reviews > THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK – Graeme Revell


chroniclesofriddickOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

David Twohy’s 2000 film Pitch Black was an unexpected success, both critically and commercially. Having had his career restricted to bit parts in the likes Saving Private Ryan , and voice-over work on The Iron Giant, its star Vin Diesel was suddenly an action hero, and it even inspired Kiwi composer Graeme Revell to write one of his most widely-praised scores of the 1990s. The Chronicles of Riddick is a sequel, set five years after the conclusion of Pitch Black, and with the eponymous Riddick (Diesel) on the run from bounty hunters. Riddick meets up with his old friend Imam (Keith David), who has been told of a prophecy that a man will save his home planet from being laid to waste by the warmongering Necromongers and their near-invincible Lord Marshall (Colm Feore) – and he believes that Riddick may be that man. However, Riddick is unable to prevent the Lord Marshal from attacking Helion, and instead he finds himself thrown in a brutal subterranean prison where he encounters Jack, now known as Kyra (Alexa Davalos), the other survivor of Riddick’s time on the Pitch Black planet. Together, Riddick and Kyra plan to escape from the prison and overthrow the Lord Marshal and the Necromongers once and for all…

I’m the first to admit that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Graeme Revell. With the exception of excellent scores such as The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Body of Evidence, The Negotiator, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Revell’s extensive filmography has generally failed to impress me. Too much reliance on electronics. Not enough thematic content. Generally unmemorable action music and “filler” score. His score for the original Pitch Black was an accomplished low-budget effort, with a decent theme, but was never wholly satisfying. It’s good news, therefore, that Riddick is a definite improvement: it takes the bare bones of Pitch Black and runs with them, resulting in a generally lively and exciting sci-fi score.

Percussion and choir play a large part in the music, as the opening cue “The Chronicles of Riddick” attests, oohing and aahing until the first powerful statement of the Riddick fanfare towards the end. The Riddick theme crops up several times throughout the score, notably in “One Speed”, “Arrival at Helion”, and the finale “Final Chronicle”, orchestrated superbly for various sections of the orchestra and/or choir. Whereas in Pitch Black the theme was merely ‘cool’, here it goes some way to approaching epic.

The action music, in cues such as “Hunt for Riddick”, the aforementioned “One Speed”, “Helion Attack”, “Hellhounds” and “The Slam”, is fast-paced and intricate, making excellent use of some clever brass writing offset by lavish string flourishes, intelligent electronics, and lots more percussion stingers to give them weight and bass.

“Vaako Conspiracy” and “Keep What You Kill” are both good examples of the score’s quieter side, emerging from a synthesized bed into a vaguely Eastern-sounding string dirge, while tracks such as “Necromongers”, “Show You The Way”, “The Purifiers End” and “Furyan Energy” highlight Revell’s immense choral writing to great effect, the latter featuring a truly extraordinary solo vocalist intoning a haunting, unique chant reminiscent of his otherwise below-average work on the mini-series Dune.

I may be damning this score with faint praise by saying that The Chronicles of Riddick is an example of Revell at his finest – such is his reputation that, had another composer written this score, it would probably have been little more than mediocre at best, but because Revell has written it, and taking into consideration his past efforts, it somehow it seems better than it perhaps is. However, despite the undoubted quality of this score, the jury remains out for me on Revell. If he can continue writing music of this quality, though, I can see me appreciating his work more in future.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • The Chronicles of Riddick (2:44)
  • Hunt for Riddick (4:44)
  • Vaako Conspiracy (3:19)
  • One Speed (3:08)
  • The Sweet Spot (1:29)
  • The Animal Side (0:54)
  • Arrival at Helion (1:11)
  • Save My Family (1:19)
  • Kyra’s Theme (1:22)
  • Helion Attack Pt. 2 (1:13)
  • Imam’s Death (1:46)
  • Necromongers (1:24)
  • Show You the Way (2:00)
  • Hellhounds (2:18)
  • Pops a Cork (1:35)
  • The Slam (2:43)
  • Furyan Energy (1:00)
  • The Purifiers End (3:21)
  • Aereon Foretells (1:51)
  • Final Betrayals (1:55)
  • Keep What You Kill (2:33)
  • End Credit – Final Chronicle (4:02)

Running Time: 47 minutes 58 seconds

Varése Sarabande VSD-6580 (2004)

Music composed by Graeme Revell. Conducted and orchestrated by Tim Simonec. Recorded and mixed by Mark Curry. Edited by Josh Wingett and Ashley Revell. Mastered by Erick Labson. Album produced by Graeme Revell.

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