By Bill Wine

By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — So how does the scorecard look on Vin Diesel in the Riddick trilogy?  Well, the first was a Vin, the second a loss.

This third entry, called simply Riddick, falls somewhere between.

Riddick, like its predecessors, mixes science fiction, action-adventure, and horror.

It was the charismatic turn delivered by Diesel in 2000’s nifty science fiction thriller Pitch Black that launched his fast and furious ascent to stardom.

He played the ruthless Richard B. Riddick, an extraterrestrial ex-con with shiny night-vision eyes on a spacecraft that crash-lands, and then reprised the role in 2004’s weak followup, The Chronicles of Riddick.

(2½ stars out of 4)

(2½ stars out of 4)

In this threequel, which picks up where Chronicles left off, the escaped-convict antihero title character is betrayed by the Necromongers and is once again marooned on an inhospitable planet and left for dead, with monstrous predators lurking in the dark.

When he triggers an emergency beacon, it brings two sets of bounty hunters from elsewhere in the galaxy in pursuit.  Plotting his revenge is something he’ll just have to squeeze in while trying to survive.

But if he can accomplish both goals, perhaps he can get back to his home planet of Furya and save it from destruction.

Diesel, who also once again served as one of the many producers, is responsible for some of the tongue-in-cheek humor that went missing in the first sequel, which took itself far too seriously.

Director David Twohy (The Arrival, Below, The Perfect Getaway), who also helmed the first two installments, again co-wrote the screenplay, this time with Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell.  Once again, fear of the dark is the primary phobia of everyone in the audience and on screen — except, of course, the seeing-in-the-dark protagonist.

And while Twohy goes back to basics by returning to the lean and mean scale of the first one and avoiding the counterproductive excess of the high-budgeted second installment, he stylizes Riddick (earlier titled “Dead Man Stalking”), which helps to mitigate against the inevitable drop in originality when compared to Pitch Black, which combined satisfying science with fascinating fiction.

Riddick may lack the freshness of the original, but interesting sets and creature design, remarkably effective special effects that don’t call attention to themselves, energetic action, and Diesel’s imposing screen presence help the film to deliver.

So we’ll survive 2½ stars out of 4 for the dark, down-and-dirty science-fiction action thriller Riddick.  Installment number three falls short of Pitch Black, but, unlike The Chronicles of Riddick, at least it won’t be met with riddickule.


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