I missed out on the whole Chronicles of Riddick thing, so I decided to start from the beginning and netflixed Pitch Black, the first movie in the Riddick trilogy. This was a really underrated film with a simple, yet solid plot, and with some great iconic visuals:
A few minorly spoilerish observations below the fold.
It turns out that the basic premise of the film, a multiple star system and moon that sees night only once every 22 years due to eclipse of the suns by its primary, was originally inspired by Asimov’s Nightfall. The idea of the aliens also directly evokes, well, Aliens. But here the aliens aren’t so much a character in their own right as a part of the landscape. That gives the film more time to focus on the characters, who manage to be pretty unique and interesting enough of an ensemble that you don’t mind them taking screen time from Riddick. But Riddick steals the show, as he should. This movie isn’t as good as Aliens for the simple reason that the ensemble doesn’t have as many memorable lines, and also because frankly Aliens came first. But apart from that it really holds its own.
I was intrigued by the muslim presence in the film. I am watching Firefly in tandem and the absence of muslim, or south asian cultures in general, is rather notable; here in the Riddick universe the only religious folk we see so far are expressly muslim. I found the way that the muslims prayed in an inwards circle with heads turned towards the sky to be a great solution to the 3D-qibla problem (ie, how do you pray facing Mecca if you aren’t on the same spherical surface?).
I’m curious to see what other interpretations and ideas the filmmakers come up with, if any, for islamic culture in a spacefaring civilization for the rest of the Riddick series.