, the first collaboration between writer-director David Twohy and Vin Diesel, stands as a model genre movie, presenting an ingeniously taut narrative while also giving Diesel ample room to develop an antihero for the ages. The success of that film led to the unexpectedly baroque The Chronicles of Riddick
, which greatly expanded the scope, but to somewhat diminished effect. The duo's third go-around wisely returns to the roots of the character, delivering a small-scale, gleefully vulgar film that occasionally resembles a berserk sci-fi version of Man vs. Wild
. Featuring some way-cool critters and no shortage of gallows humor, it knows exactly what it is: half B-movie, half awesome 1970s van art. Quickly dispensing with the ornate mythology of the last installment (respect to Karl Urban for returning, however briefly), the story finds Riddick left for dead, on a planet where absolutely everything wants to eat him. As he begins his quest to dominate the local flora and fauna, matters are complicated by the appearance of two teams of bounty hunters (including Katee Sackhoff and the gargantuan Dave Bautista) searching for his chromed dome. Twohy keeps things mean and reasonably lean throughout, giving the squabbling mercenaries some enjoyably hissable personality traits while hurtling toward an intense siege finale. Fun as Riddick
's second half is, though, it's that primal, largely nonverbal first section that makes the film really work, paring back the character to his rumbling alpha-male essence as he pummels his way up the food chain. At a time when most entries in the genre either swell to ill-fitting blockbuster proportions or devolve into winking irony, there's something rather admirable about those just content to deliver the disreputable goods. Long may Space Conan reign. --Andrew Wright
Vin Diesel reprises his role as the antihero Riddick in the latest chapter of the groundbreaking saga. A dangerous, escaped convict wanted by every bounty hunter in the known galaxy, Riddick has been left for dead on a sun-scorched planet that appears to be lifeless. Soon, however, he finds himself fighting for survival against alien predators more lethal than any human he’s encountered. The only way off is for him to activate an emergency beacon and alert mercenaries who rapidly descend to the planet in search of their bounty. With time running out and a deadly storm on the horizon that no one could survive, his hunters won’t leave the planet without Riddick’s head as their trophy. Also starring Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica), Karl Urban (Star Trek Into Darkness) and Dave Bautista (WWE). Experience the Riddick Unrated Director’s Cut with an alternate ending!