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'Riddick' doesn't live up to expectations

DVD cover art for 'Riddick.'
DVD cover art for 'Riddick.'Universal Studios Home Entertainment

'Riddick' DVD

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After nearly a 10 year gap between films, many were wondering if we really needed a sequel to "The Chronicles of Riddick." The 2004 follow-up to "Pitch Black" veered off from the simple "fight-to-survive" scenario and took us into a world overstuffed with CGI razzle dazzle. What would Vin Diesel and Director Dave Twohy do with the third installment in the franchise, simply titled "Riddick?"

What they've done is return the lead character to what he does best. I can't completely say this is a good thing. Riddick is a survivor. Whether you think him to be good or bad, the guy has a way of saving himself while "accidently" saving others at the same time. Strange thing is he's always rescuing people he doesn't even care about.

Director/Writer David Twohy has found a way to mash together elements of "Castaway" and "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" with "Aliens" and "Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation." In the first part of the film, the title character is banished from the city of the Necromongers. He's making his way solo through the desert fighting off all sorts of alien beasts. The second half has Riddick trapped in an abandoned outpost with a group of mercenaries and bounty hunters while fending off water monsters that have surrounded the motley bunch.

The CGI and practical effects in "Riddick" aren't so bad. They're a lot easier to stomach than what we were served up in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." The visual effects are scaled way back from what we saw in "The Chronicles of Riddick."

You can tell Vin Diesel loves the character of Riddick. He fully embraces the role and savors every moment onscreen. Katee Sackhoff portrays one of the bounty hunters like she's playing a grimier version of Starbuck from "Battlestar Galactica."

The DVD version of "Riddick" only includes the theatrical version. The Blu-ray has an unrated version which I haven't had a chance to watch. Special features for the DVD include two featurettes entitled "Vin's Riddick" and "Meet the Mercs." "Riddick: Blindsided" is a motion comic filling in the gap between "The Chronicles of Riddick" and "Riddick." I don't really know why this is necessary, seeing how the beginning of the film already does a lot of that.

"Riddick" is rated R for strong violence, language, and some sexual content/nudity. The only nudity is an extremely brief and very unnecessary shot of Katee Sackhoff in the shower. The rest is just sci-fi gore and bounty hunters cussing like sailors.

For the most part, "Riddick" gives the viewer a sense of déjà vu. The survivalist beginning of the movie does keep it from completely falling into retread territory. However, I'm still pretty sure it wasn't the sequel people wanted from this franchise. I can't tell you exactly what I wanted from it, but it was something different from this.

"Riddick" is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital Download.