Riddick: Pitch bleak | Reviews | Creative Loafing Charlotte

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Riddick: Pitch bleak

Rating: **



STARS Vin Diesel, Matt Nable

A BOY AND HIS DOG: Our hero (Vin Diesel) makes a friend in Riddick. (Photo: Universal)
  • A BOY AND HIS DOG: Our hero (Vin Diesel) makes a friend in Riddick. (Photo: Universal)

A step up from the 2004 slumber party The Chronicles of Riddick but still a few rungs down the ladder from 2000's pitch-perfect Pitch Black, Riddick, the third theatrical endeavor featuring everyone's favorite killer with a heart of gold, foregoes the disastrous epic scope of that middle movie and attempts to return to the more fleet-footed thrills of the original.

Vin Diesel reprises his role as Riddick, once again stranded on a desolate planet teeming with hostile creatures. He manages to domesticate a canine-like critter — it appears that, even in space, a dog is man's best friend — but otherwise has his hands full warding off monstrous eel-scorpion thingies. In order to get off this rock, he activates a beacon so that mercenaries may come and find him — at which point he plans to steal one of their ships and vacate the premises. Two vessels do arrive, one commandeered by the vicious Santana (Jordi Mollà), the other captained by Boss Johns (Matt Nable), the father of Cole Hauser's cowardly (and deceased) merc from Pitch Black.

With the arrival of these additional characters, the film turns into a slog, with Riddick playing feeble cat-and-mouse games with the hopelessly outmatched mercenaries. Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff has a sizable supporting role as Johns' second-in-command, a hardcore lesbian who nevertheless warms up to Riddick after he suggests she allow him to go "balls deep" in her, while Mollà (Bad Boys II, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) delivers another awful performance in an English-language film (this Barcelona-born actor has won several awards for his work back in Spain, so clearly something is getting lost in translation). The final half-hour is basically a reprise of Pitch Black, only lacking in characters we care about (Radha Mitchell and Keith David are sorely missed here) as well as deficient in any real suspense.

Given the sorry sequels, it seems Riddick as a character should have been a one-and-done deal. But don't shed a tear if Diesel can't find funding for any more films in the series — with a seventh Fast & Furious title now in production and a xXx sequel waiting in the wings, the actor will still be able to draw from other wells.

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