“Riddick,” the third installment in the science fiction franchise, is probably what fans of the series have come to expect.
For those uninitiated, like myself, it’s not quite as much of a success, but there are enough moments to be mildly entertaining. For this time of year, it is passable but also slightly forgettable.
Vin Diesel plays the title character, who, as the film begins, has been betrayed and left for dead on an isolated planet.
Riddick finds a remote space station where he sends a distress signal.
The message is intercepted by a group of bounty hunters, who see this as a chance to capture Riddick and collect a reward for past transgressions.
Once the bounty hunters converge on the planet, they realize that they are actually the ones being hunted, part of Riddick’s plan to take their aircraft and flee to safety.
“Riddick” feels like two familiar science fiction stories wedged together.
The first half, which involves Riddick hanging out with some sort of futuristic space dog, is mildly interesting, more so than I expected going in.
The second half evolves into an “Alien” or “Predator” kind of film, which is less interesting as director David Twohy stages a lot of familiar action set pieces.
To its credit, “Riddick” never takes itself too seriously – the dialogue has a kind of tongue-in-cheek quality to it — but it doesn’t quite delve into full-fledged camp mode.
Instead it is a film that sort of straddles the center of the mediocre line. It’s not really bad, but it’s not really good either.
DVD dandy of the week
This week’s dandy is “Star Trek: Into Darkness” (A-), the best of the summer blockbusters.
It’s a nonstop thrill ride with plenty of action and lots of humor, and you don’t have to be a “Star Trek” fan to appreciate it.
“Into Darkness” is the follow-up to the 2009 reboot, a sort of prequel to the original television series and early films. The story begins with James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) demoted to first officer of the Enterprise after violating the Prime Directive during a mission to a remote planet.
Kirk gets a chance at redemption, however, when former Starfleet officer John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) orchestrates a series of attacks against his former employer.
Kirk is reinstated to captain and given the chance to take his crew, which includes Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Sulu (John Cho) on a mission to find Harrison and bring him to justice.
Director J.J. Abrams has crafted another impressive science fiction adventure that balances smart writing with entertaining action sequences. It all starts with a rousing opening sequence that is more enjoyable than most of “Iron Man 3.” Abrams clearly understands the balance between appeasing the “Star Trek” fan base and crafting a film that will have broader appeal.
He’s been chosen to reboot “Star Wars” as well, and from the looks of these two films, it seems that franchise is going to be in good hands.
“Into Darkness” is also perfectly cast – each actor gives a fresh spin on an iconic character. Cumberbatch is a nice addition as a rather memorable villain.
I’m a casual “Star Trek” fan, but I appreciated the nods to the previous material, including a finale that really spins the franchise’s lore on its ear.
It’s just one of many clever elements in a film that sets the bar high for the rest of 2013’s summer blockbusters.
“Star Trek: Into Darkness” is PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence and is now available on DVD.