Now, I did see Pitch Black, back when it was first released, though I've long ago forgotten all the details. Of course, you kind of don't need to remember the details since I think this is basically the same movie all over again, just with different-looking things trying to eat everyone. And these scary critters come out when it rains rather than when it gets dark. I guess if you're comfortable with a certain formula and it doesn't totally flop at the box office, why not do it all over again? It's been thirteen years, after all.

I'm fairly sure that Riddick (Vin Diesel, Babylon A.D.) has developed some sort of super-powers in those thirteen years, even aside from the seeing in the dark thing. He's had two video games, one short film, and two feature length films in which to get tougher, after all, even if one of the films did just go straight to video. According to the MCND law of sequels, the character has been getting more and more outrageously powerful with every appearance, until he can now survive being caught in a major rockslide and hold his breath for ten minutes. I can't even bring myself to describe what he does with that machete, but I'm fairly sure it isn't humanly possible.

Anyway, Karl Urban (Star Trek Into Darkness) was in The Chronicles of Riddick, apparently playing someone who doesn't like Riddick at all, and he's back just long enough to throw Riddick into a trap. So there's Riddick, stranded in Australia with everything trying to kill him. I mean, stranded on some planet that's hot and full of dangerous, poisonous animals. Natural mistake. The first twenty minutes or so are a little slow, actually, despite him fighting all the animals and such. He also rescues a young dog-like creature, later referred to as dingo dongos, and raises it up from a pup, though I don't think he really has any nice motives for that early on. I don't think he even names the dingo.

Somehow magically deducing that danger is just around the corner, Riddick activates an emergency beacon at some sort of mercenary way-station he finds. Two sets of mercs show up: one slightly ragged-looking, old-school bunch led by a guy named Santana (Jordi Mollà, Knight & Day), and a more high-tech bunch with uniforms, led by Matt Nable of Killer Elite. He offers Santana a deal: they work together to get Riddick as long as Riddick gets left alive long enough to answer a few questions. Then Santana can cut off his head and get the bounty, which doubles if he's dead. That's harsh.

Santana doesn't want any part of any deals -- until Riddick starts killing people, of course. Then they're all kind of forced to work together, even though Santana balks at taking orders from a woman, Dahl (Katee Sackhoff from the new Battlestar Galactica), who's second in command of the prettier team. The name is unfortunate because it ends up sounding just like Doll, but they probably did that on purpose, I'm afraid.

The rest of the mercenaries are pretty interchangeable (except for the young one who thinks everything is a sign from God), though you may recognize a few faces like Raoul Trujillo, who was in Cowboys and Aliens, and Bokeem Woodbine from the recent remake of Total Recall. And of course there's Dave Bautista, who was in The Man with the Iron Fists, but doesn't get to turn into metal here.

And... it's basically Pitch Black II: Don't Go Out in the Rain. That's about all I can say about it. This is a perfect example of one of those mediocre movies that are so very hard to review. There's nothing awful about it, but nothing terribly good, either. So... let's say two and three-quarters out of five. I considered three, but I have to deduct a little for the silly thing they did with Dahl / Doll at the end. That made me cringe, and after some of the more bloody and awful stuff I'd just seen, the fact that anything could still make me cringe is pretty significant.

Riddick with my favorite character: The CGI 'dog'.


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