“Dark Fury” is a 30-minute self-contained animated story that takes place between the events of “Pitch Black” and the just released “Chronicles of Riddick”. It’s not really anything necessary, and I suspect only fans of the Riddick character will enjoy the film for what it is — the further adventures of everyone’s favorite nightvision-enhanced killing machine.
The short follows Riddick, Imam, and Jack (all voiced by the original actors, including Rhiana Griffith as Jack), in the aftermath of their escape from the bug planet. The skip they’re in soon dies and a ship captained by a deranged female bounty hunter and her small army of bounty hunters stumbles across them. Riddick and company are reeled in, and after a scuffle in the hangar bay, becomes the crazy lady’s captives.
How crazy is our villain? For one, she doesn’t sell her captives to the authorities, and instead freezes them and molds them into works of “art”. Our nutty chick already has an extensive collection, and before she adds Riddick to it, she wants to see him “work” in person. This means pitting Riddick against two strange light creatures with tentacles that attacks in the dark. Fortunately Riddick has nightvision, so I suppose it’s a fair fight, right?
“Dark Fury” is only 30 minutes and while it does make good use of all 30 minutes of it, it’s not necessary to have seen the short to understand the events of “Chronicles of Riddick”. The only real significant impact this episode has on the Riddick universe is that it introduces the Toombs character, the wiseass bounty hunter who will be dogging Riddick’s tail all over “Chronicles”. And since “Dark Fury” seems to indicate ol Toombs has a knack for survival, it appears his possible demise in “Chronicles” was just a tease. No doubt Toombs is being primed for a Boba Fett role by Twohy and company.
Aside from Toombs, the short gives some insights into why Riddick left Jack to Imam, where she eventually went astray later on, thus ending up in a prison when the story recommences with “Chronicles”. Other than that there’s nothing about “Dark Fury” that one would call required viewing. Without sounding too cynical, my guess is that the inclusions of these two tidbits was creator David Twohy’s way of trying to make “Fury” less of an obvious attempt to capitalize on Riddick’s popularity with fanboys.
And then there is the art in “Dark Fury”. The short is directed by Peter Chung, most known for the perverse and (literally) twisted artwork of “Aeon Flux”. Chung seems addicted (or perhaps obsessed is the better word) with this animated style. He’s even re-used the same art style in an episode of the “Animatrix”. There are some inspired renderings, such as an alien dog used to sniff out Riddick, but for the most part Chung’s style is just too “Look at me, I’m different!” and takes away from the story at hand.
Also, isn’t real creativity about taking on new challenges, developing new styles, and constantly evolving? Chung seems permanently stuck in time, either unable or unwilling to evolve. Towards the end of the short, when Riddick battles the crazy bounty hunter lady’s enforcer, the art gets even more exaggerated. Really, it’s sort of disturbing, and not at all pleasing to the eye. Maybe there are a lot of people who really enjoys this animated style, but I’m not one of them.
Wacky artwork aside, “Dark Fury” works somewhat as a stand-alone episode. The short will only be popular with fans of Riddick who wants to see his further adventures. Otherwise, the ending of “Pitch Black” and the beginning of “Chronicles of Riddick” really doesn’t need a “bridging” chapter. Having said that, “Dark Fury” is a 3-star movie if you happen to like Riddick’s brand of mayhem (as I do) and it’s a 2.5-star movie for everyone else.
Peter Chung (director) / David Twohy, Brett Matthews (screenplay)
CAST: Nick Chinlund …. Toombs
Keith David …. Abu ‘Imam’ al-Walid
Vin Diesel …. Riddick
Rhiana Griffith …. Jack