From the dusty annals of a science-fiction franchise belonging to another age — that of "Pitch Black" (2000) and "The Chronicles of Riddick" (2004) and several video-game variations — comes a modestly scaled summer picture continuing a legend that time and many moviegoers forgot. And it's fun!
"Riddick" is extremely violent, cleverly managed fun — full of eviscerating aliens,
This is not one of those Johnny-come-lately sequels preoccupied with getting a new audience up to speed on where the story was. It's about living in the moment, in the now, and killing in the now.
The character name Riddick suggests a wee person, played perhaps by
And here's the beauty part, to the extent writer-director
"Riddick" opens with a near-wordless sequence set on a hot, scrubby planet, where our antihero, betrayed by the Necromongers (there, that's it: done with the plot summary), is left for dead among the winged beasts and fanged squid-like denizens of the swamps. The opening half-hour of Twohy's picture is a grabber, a chronicle of Riddick dealing with the swamp things, and his domestication of an alien jackal dog. The occasional voice-over ("Whole damn planet wanted a piece of me") reminds us that Riddick can, in fact, speak if needed.
Then come the bounty hunters, some old, some new, and "Riddick" turns into a different picture, one that scrambles your sympathies nicely as Riddick squares off against the meanest of them while everyone contends with ace creature designer
The first half is more compelling than the second; the flying effects, with zippy hovercrafts, look cheese ball and the whole of "Riddick" smacks of being filmed in GreenScreenLand, which it was. (And Montreal.) Yet more persuasively than the recent "After Earth" and
The side characters all get their share of profane zingers. The audience comes away sated. In the 13 years since the first Riddick chronicle, Diesel has discovered what it means to be a certain kind of movie star, working hard but not too, serving material that, here, does what it's supposed to do.
MPAA rating: R for strong violence, language and some sexual content/nudity
Running time: 1 hour, 59 minutes
Playing: In wide release