A futuristic thriller stuffed to bursting with nifty special effects and fight scenes but hobbled by laughably bad dialogue and hollow characters, this overblown sequel almost makes Van Helsing look profound. It's the disappointing follow-up to Pitch Black (2000), a low-budget sleeper that crackled with scary suspense and made a star of the muscle-laden, deep-voiced Diesel. This time out director-writer David Twohy (who also did Black) goes for bigger, louder and oodles more expensive, but the end product plays like a video game transferred to the big screen.
Diesel reprises his Black role as Riddick, a dour ex-con with opaque, silvery eyes that can see in the dark. Here Riddick must fight the Necromongers, evil zealots intent on conquering the universe, despite their alarmingly clunky-looking armor. Diesel is up to his part's physical demands but drones his lines in a monotone. Then again even the peppiest readings couldn't save such groaners as when Riddick tells the gorgeous Newton (wasted in a smallish role as a Necromonger Lady Macbeth), "It's been a long time since I've smelled beautiful." Yeah, try that one the next time you're attempting a pickup in a bar. (PG-13)