Riddick ** (R) Vin Diesel returns for his third stint as the intergalactic criminal who is unbelievably lethal, hard to kill, and misunderstood. He’s betrayed (again) and stranded (again) on a barren planet that only sustains ghastly, dangerous life forms. We get enough backstory and voice-over for grounding in his arrival, stellar survival skills, and attempts to hitch a ride to greener planets. When heavily-armed mercenaries arrive to claim the bounty on his hairless head, even more mayhem follows. For a guy who only wants to return to his home planet, the array of obstacles is mind-boggling. Perhaps his relative inability to get help from strangers is that he’s the polar opposite of E. T. on the cuteness scale.
Franchise fans will enjoy the stark landscapes, CG creatures and high-tech weaponry their laconic hero encounters, plus one truly cool killing. Movie fans will be relieved by how little dialog and emotional range the script and Vin’s character require. Those who take such things seriously may find culturally objectionable plot points (particularly surrounding Katee Sackhoff’s character). Others may feel the action sequences grow redundant, making the two-hour movie less satisfying than it might have been with a 15-minute trim. Even worse, the ending leaves the space-time portal open for yet another Riddick outing. Be tantalized or warned. Your call. (9/6/13)