Movies

Peter Suderman Reviews Riddick

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Radar Pictures/One Race Films

After a summer of cinematic excess, Riddick, the third installment in Vin Diesel's intermittent sci-fi action franchise, is a welcome reminder that bigger is not always better: 

"Riddick" is many things: a surprisingly solid sci-fi B-movie, a showcase for the limited but real talents of star Vin Diesel, a relatively bright note after a summer of disappointing genre films. But more than anything, it's a lesson in the virtues of going small.

The trend in effects-driven blockbusters over the last few years has been toward the gargantuan: giant robots, giant ships, giant battles, giant destruction and, most of all, giant stakes. The risk with this approach is that the characters get lost in endless struggles to save the world, and the eternal bigness becomes monotonous. When everything's giant, nothing is.

"Riddick" is an antidote to all that. The brawny space-adventurer's third outing is a stripped-down, human-scale story about one guy fighting a couple of other guys. There are alien monsters, guns and bounty hunters. The primary goal for just about everyone involved is to stay alive.

That's a marked and welcome departure from the last installment, 2004's "Chronicles of Riddick," a bloated big-budget space opera that attempted to saddle its title character with a Dungeons & Dragons manual's worth of incomprehensible fantasy lore. And it's a much-needed return to the sort of vicious, small-scale mayhem that made Riddick's first appearance, 2000's "Pitch Black," such a blast.

Read the whole review in The Washington Times