Combustible Celluloid
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With: Vin Diesel, Jordi Mollà, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine, Raoul Trujillo, Conrad Pla, Danny Blanco Hall, Noah Danby, Neil Napier, Nolan Gerard Funk, Karl Urban, Andreas Apergis, Keri Hilson
Written by: David Twohy, Oliver Butcher, Stephen Cornwell, based on characters created by Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat
Directed by: David Twohy
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language and some sexual content/nudity
Running Time: 119
Date: 09/05/2013

Riddick (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Riddick Goes Back to 'Black'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Perhaps the most dangerous man in the universe, Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) can apparently survive poisonous, water-dwelling monsters and trigger-happy bounty hunters, as well as the terrible The Chronicles of Riddick, released nine years ago.

He now comes back for this third movie that somehow manages to satisfyingly re-create the successful formula of the original Pitch Black (2000).

That was a fairly small-scale action/sci-fi movie, set in one place and focusing mostly on characters.

Then director David Twohy spent four times its budget on the 2004 sequel, and completely lost track of what made Riddick work so well.

The new Riddick begins on the heels of the last one: Riddick was briefly the ruler of the Necromongers before being betrayed and cast out onto a godforsaken planet crawling with ravenous beasties.

In a nearly wordless opening section, Riddick heals a broken leg, tames a dog-like creature, and immunizes himself to the poison of the water monsters.

Realizing his time is up, he activates a beacon that brings several bounty hunters. He hopes to kill them all and steal a ship, but before long it becomes apparent that these humans need to work together to avoid an even more brutal force.

Twohy and co-screenwriters Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell create a cool gallery of colorful characters, each with his or her own place in the world.

Standouts are the vivacious Santana (Jordi Mollà), the sober Boss Johns (Matt Nable), and the beautiful badass Dahl (Katee Sackhoff).

Amazingly, they're all shown to be thinking characters as well. They try to use their heads to stay one step ahead of Riddick, even if that's ultimately impossible.

After the setup, when the other humans arrive, the movie keeps Riddick offscreen for large portions, which helps build his legend (similar to the trick Orson Welles played in The Third Man).

As the characters talk about him, they build him up in our minds, and when he actually appears, he seems larger than life.

Twohy (Below, A Perfect Getaway) keeps proving himself worthy of these kinds of solid, medium-budget genre movies. His action usually takes place in a limited space, with very simple ideas and goals.

The monsters in Riddick are not the most spectacular visual effects of the year, but they get the job done much better than many more expensive movies.

Indeed, by aiming lower and coming closer to the target, Riddick is ultimately more successful and enjoyable than most of this past summer's big blockbusters.

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