Sept. 12--For expanded review, visit tulsaworld.com/movies.
Rating: (on a scale of zero to four stars)
"I don't know how many times I've been written off (and) left for dead," says Vin Diesel's namesake character at the beginning of "Riddick," apparently the only one who doesn't know the answer to this question.
He's been written off and left for dead three times now.
There have been three movies in this ridic -- as in ridiculous -- science-fiction series, and the same thing happens every time: Riddick, a convicted murderer, escapes from law enforcement; he's stranded on a strange planet; bounty hunter types want to find him, kill him and cash in; Riddick outwits everyone, including many unsavory characters.
The idea, as unoriginal as it is: Sometimes it takes evil to fight evil.
"Pitch Black" started this franchise in 2000 and made some decent box-office coin on a low budget, warranting Diesel the chance at a sequel, 2004's "The Chronicles of Riddick," which cost a fortune to make and lost money.
The thought was that Riddick, the pain-resistant hulk with glowing eyes who can see in the dark, was not invincible: He was being killed off by studio executives protecting their investment.
But with Universal Studios making more money than ever in recent years thanks in good part to Diesel's "Fast and Furious" movies, and with their buddy Diesel now a producer in most of his projects, anything can be revived to keep someone happy.
"Riddick" arrives nine years after the last picture, and it's less a matter of a fresh idea for a film than it is proof that star power still means something in Hollywood, where blockbusters have increasingly become "concept films" featuring fewer stars.
"Riddick" even comes equipped with the same writer-director of the first two films, David Twohy, a man who clearly believes that if a formula is working -- or not -- you repeat it and only lightly tweak.
Movie Rating (on 4 scale)
The Spectacular Now
In a World
The Way Way Back
Despicable Me 2
The World's End
Lee Daniels' The Butler
Man of Steel
We're the Millers
The Smurfs 2
Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
-- MICHAEL SMITH, NOUR HABIB AND BRAVETTA HASSELL, World Scene Writers
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