'Riddick': What the Critics Are Saying

5:42 PM PST 09/05/2013 by THR Staff

The second sequel in the sci-fi franchise, in theaters Friday, marks the return of Vin Diesel's antihero.

After a nine-year absence, Riddick returns to the big screen.

Vin Diesel has bet big on the third entry in the sci-fi franchise, which once again sees the Fast and the Furious star paired with director David Twohy

Diesel, who promoted the project at Comic-Con, had acquired the rights to the character of Riddick from Universal Pictures in exchange for a cameo in Tokyo Drift, THR reported

Pitch Black, the first entry in the series, became a cult hit. It was followed by a big budget sequel, 2004's Chronicles of Riddick, distributed by Universal. 

Here's what critics are saying about Riddick, which hits theaters Sept. 6. 

The Hollywood Reporter's critic Justin Lowe found the film to be a "flabby second sequel" centered around the outlaw's exploits. "Plenty of bone crunching and blood gushing, along with some selective nudity, have boosted the movie’s rating up to an 'R,' but lacking the distinctive visual style, robust production design and planet-hopping pace of its predecessor, Riddick feels mired in stasis," Lowe wrote. 

BOX OFFICE PREVIEW: Vin Diesel's 'Riddick' to Top More than 25 New Indie Films

Meanwhile, The New York TimesManohla Dargis found the film to be a "satisfyingly primitive spectacle." The newspaper's chief film critic favorably compared Diesel to a pair of iconic '80s action stars: "If Arnold and Sly became the cartoon emblems of Reagan-era might, Mr. Diesel has come into his own as a contemporary hero, one who suggests a postrace ideal, even as he affirms old-fashioned power with displays of annihilating violence."

In a wire service review that will surely appear in newspapers nationwide, The Associated Press' Jocelyn Noveck panned the film. The AP national writer noted: "[Diesel's] presence alone, comfortably durable as it is, can't make up for the total lack of other interesting characters in the screenplay by David Twohy."

Bilge Ebiri's New York magazine review mentions from the offset the disappointment that Chronicles of Riddick received upon its release in 2004. The film critic favorably compares Riddick to the first entry: "Pitch Black seemed as inspired by classic Westerns as it was by horror movies, what with its sparsely populated tale of a convict and his pursuers/captors coming to a tense understanding in an extreme landscape. Riddick, though far, far less successful, has a bit of that same quality."

Writing at The A.V. Club, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky gave the sci-fi actioner a B+ for its efforts. "What matters above all, however, is that Twohy has the pulpy visual chops to match his storytelling," the film critic wrote, adding: "In an era of high-falutin’ tentpole sci-fi, there’s something to be said for a filmmaker still devoted to crafting plain old genre pleasures."

In the U.K., Empire's Chris Hewitt gave the film a decent three-of-five star review, mentioning that the film is basically three movies in one. The magazine's news editor noted that "Film 3 stops toying with the idea of remaking Pitch Black, and just remakes Pitch Black, as Riddick and the remaining bounty hunters join forces to fend off a mass nocturnal assault from a slimy, vicious alien threat."

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