A biggish budget sequel to the overrated Pitch Black, The Chronicles Of Riddick is a comicbook-style actioner whose imposing look and enthusiasm can't disguise its dullness. Vin Diesel stars once again as dome-headed killing machine Richard Riddick, employed in this instance to rid the universe of the, ahem, Necromongers: a race of pasty-faced murderous moaners who assault and assimilate everyone they meet. Imagine middle managers in armour and you're halfway there.
In Pitch Black, Riddick was a ruthless killer who supposedly didn't care about anyone. Now we're supposed to believe his burgeoning emotional awareness has meant he's spent five years on the run to protect 'Jack', the original film's pre-pubescent tomboy who's now evolved into the decidedly more shapely Alexa Davalos. We also need to buy that one man (our Vin) can neuter the Necromongers, when entire planets have proved helpless before them. And we must keep a straight face when Diesel sniffs around Thandie Newton's gold-lamed villainess and utters the immortal line, "It's been a long time since I smelled beautiful."
"DIESEL IS AN IMPOSING SCREEN PRESENCE"
We have to indulge a script where the prison planet of Crematoria is, you guessed it, really hot. And where Diesel's race is Furian and he, like, gets really angry. But enough snide sniping (well, almost enough): there is a certain gloomy imagination to writer-director David Twohy's universe. And Diesel is an imposing screen presence even when growling risible dialogue. For those in the right mindset, there is fun to be found here, but it's frustrating that the film has such an inflated sense of its own importance - such a straight face, so little wit. It's science fiction with a frown.