Sept. 12--"RIDDICK" (R)
2 OUT OF 4 STARS
VIN DIESEL, MATT NABLE, KATEE SACKHOFF, KARL URBAN
Vin Diesel has created a unique sci-fi franchise with his Riddick character. Unfortunately, the films are getting worse with every outing.
The original "Pitch Black" was a tense, creatively filmed movie that took advantage of a stark backdrop, intense contrast and carnivorous creatures of the dark.
"Chronicles of Riddick" had fun with a battle of races and coldhearted creatures called Necromancers.
This film draws so heavily from those two installments that it starts at a creative disadvantage. A plodding story and limp adventures make it the worst "Riddick" yet.
The movie opens as our hero, barely alive, is dumped on a deserted planet. The first 45 minutes feature Riddick capturing and taming a dog-like creature.
Yep, a boy and his dog. We get it. And guess what? There are creatures out to kill him that look like a cross between the critters from "Pitch Black" and the nasty creatures featured in "Predator." As the plot gears slowly grind, evil mercenaries are called in almost exactly the way they were in "Chronicles."
Things pick up a bit when the delightfully tough and wicked Katee Sackhoff appears on screen, and her presence works wonders for Diesel's performance. But it's just not enough.
Those who love the series will enjoy seeing Riddick again, but next time if there is a next time the producers need to find a better story.
Rated R for strong violence, language and some sexual content/nudity. 119 min. [MC, RA, RF]
"THE ULTIMATE LIFE" (PG)
2.5 OUT OF 4 STARS
LOGAN BARTHOLOMEW, PETER FONDA, ALI HILLIS
This follow-up to the inspirational film "The Ultimate Gift" is better than the original and then some.
It begins with a troubled young Jason Stevens the man tested in "Gift" finding his grandfather's journal.
That starts a trip through the past that begins with the grandfather ("Red") as a young oilman who eventually becomes a driven wildcatter and finally learns what's important in life.
The segments with the young Red are the best, particularly when he meets his sweetheart and struggles through the Depression and World War II.
It's an unexpected surprise and neat bit of historical drama.
Rated PG for a brief battle scene and mild thematic elements. 124 min. [PV]
(c)2013 The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.)
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