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24 June 2004 @ 01:58 pm
Pitch Black 2: The Sequel That Never Was  
In the days before Riddick had his own Chronicles, there was a simpler idea for a follow-up to the original film. That idea was the obvious one — Pitch Black 2, a name that was even visible on the first promotional poster for the movie. Chronicles is only a semi-sequel in that it doesn't really have the same feel or even genre as the first movie. But earlier scripts concocted by outside writers did bring back the hammerhead aliens and returned Riddick to a world of action/horror rather than sci-fi/adventure.

One of the earliest scripts you can find record of was written David Hayter (X-Men, X2) and revised by Akiva Goldsman (Batman & Robin, A Beautiful Mind). It found Riddick fighting the hammerheads for entertainment in the underground world of New Chicago. He gets blackmailed into heading back to the planet of the first movie to help a team of mercs and "retrievers" get what is essentially a Star Trek II "Genesis Device" out of the fallen Hunter-Gratzner. It's all basically Aliens with Vin Diesel playing Ripley. Oh, and one of the mercs turns out to be... Kyra. Or, uh, "Kira" in this version. It takes Riddick most of the movie to figure out who she is, though. If the finished Chronicles makes Riddick too smart, this script makes him too dumb. Regardless, Kira plays the role of villain in this version of the movie — she's bitter and vindictive over Riddick "abandoning" her and wants to see him pay for it. As for how they could possibly run into the hammerhead aliens again without waiting for 22 years, beats me. Hopefully there's an explanation at some point. Maybe it all takes place in some caves. Not that that would make any sense, mind you.

Goldsman would later write his own take on Pitch Black 2, which takes some of the ideas from that first script and twists them around a bit. Riddick is now living on the planet of the original film, killing the hammerheads in the underground caves for his food (!).
The name of "Kira" from the first script is replaced with the more-familiar "Kyra," and she's still a merc, but in this version she's worshipping the ground Riddick walks on. There's something of a romantic subplot developed between the two here. Most of the movie, though, takes place on a "living" forest planet which uses a bunch of tiger/tree hybrid monsters (?!) as a biological "security system" when the mercs and retrievers come looking for, yup, that damned Genesis device again — which is, in this one, a part of the planet's natural ecosystem. What follows is a bunch of action as our heroes try to survive the world full of monsters and get back out, very much in the style of Pitch Black. When you couple all of this with the fact that this script tries to humanize Riddick because of how the first movie changed him — a fact that David Twohy very sadly forgot — I have to say that this doesn't sound too bad. I'd have to read it to really get an idea of whether it had merit, of course. And admittedly, the whole Riddick/Kyra thing sounds skeevy. But it sounds like it stays true to the feel of the first movie while providing something new, even if the script review I just linked to is profoundly negative. As an aside, this script also introduces the idea of Ziza, although she's just a "Newt"-esque little girl in need of rescuing in this script... which is nothing like her role in the final film.

I guess I have to give David Twohy points for taking the road less traveled. I still can't be sure that it was the best possible course, however. Maybe one day these scripts will be posted online and I'll be able to judge for myself. For right now, they're just curious relics from a time when Universal and Twohy wanted to keep the series within a single genre.