Chronicles of Riddick [2004]

Bigger isn't always better, but for anyone who enjoyed Pitch Black, a nominal sequel like The Chronicles of Riddick should prove adequately entertaining. Writer-director David Twohy returns with expansive sets, detailed costumes, an army of CGI effects artists, and the star he helped launch--Vin Diesel--bearing his franchise burden quite nicely as he reprises his title role. The Furian renegade Riddick has another bounty on his head, but when he escapes from his mercenary captors, he's plunged into an epic-scale war waged by the Necromongers. A fascist master race led by Lord Marshal (Colm Feore), they're determined to conquer all enemies in their quest for the Underverse, the appeal of which is largely unexplained (since Twohy is presumably reserving details for subsequent "chronicles"). With tissue-thin plotting, scant character development, and skimpy roles that waste the talents of Thandie Newton (as a Necromonger conspirator) and Judi Dench (as a wispy "Elemental" priestess), Twohy's back in the B-movie territory he started in (with The Arrival), brought to vivid life on a vast digital landscape with the conceptual allure of a lavish graphic novel. But does Riddick have leadership skills on his resumé? To get an answer to that question, sci-fi fans will welcome another sequel. --Jeff Shannon

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