(out of 5)
Five years after the exciting events of Pitch Black, morally ambiguous ex-convict Riddick (Vin Diesel) is caught by a bounty hunter and brought to a planet about to be invaded by the evil Necromongers. Led by a half-spirit general (Colm Feore), Necromongers are an army of controlled religious zealots who are out to destroy all human life that chooses not to be assimilated into their religion; that’s right, it’s an outer space version of the Bible Belt. Riddick, of course, decides that it is not his fight and chooses not to get involved, but eventually fate removes choice from the menu and he’s going head to head with the leader himself in a bid to save innocent lives. Thandie Newton is used as decoration as a Necromonger bigwig’s scheming wife, while Judi Dench is lovely in the inconsequentially ornamental role of a spiritually gifted psychic (Dench and Diesel–I’ve been saying that these two should work together for years). Writer-director David Twohy spends too much time on a central sequence where Riddick is trapped in an off-world prison colony, but otherwise the film is imaginative and the special effects are inspired in their craftsmanship. It should be a lot more fun, but Diesel is so determined that his character not have any personality that it makes you feel bad for wanting to enjoy the B-movie, sci-fi, Dune-like cheesiness that this film ought to be. The lack of character depth is mostly compensated for with noisy, overly edited fight sequences, and by the time the sequel-baiting ending arrives, you might find yourself wondering what the point of it all was in the first place. Still, you’ll also remember the fun parts.
Directed by David Twohy
Cinematography by Hugh Johnson
Music by Graeme Revell
Production Design by Holger Gross