The Chronicles of Riddick ★★★½

A follow-up to "Pitch Black" that focuses on the further adventures of that film's anti-hero, "The Chronicles of Riddick" expands David Twohy's original science fiction vision into the realm of space fantasy. More lushly imagined than its predecessor, "The Chronicles of Riddick" lacks the streamlined tension of "Pitch Black" but supplies a worthy adventure, nonetheless.

Years after the events of his first cinematic adventure, "The Chronicles of Riddick" finds Vin Diesel's Riddick on the run from bounty hunters and caught up in a plot rife with planetary and spiritual destruction. The outlaw, Riddick, is, once again, charged with performing life-saving, heroic deeds. The story is has interesting religious and philosophical undertones but descends into token action beats. Still, the entire narrative is compelling enough to make a sturdy foundation for the film.

With much larger resources at his disposal, Twohy builds a universe that dwarfs the small-scale efficiency of "Pitch Black." A visually striking blend of elements, from the mythological to the militaristic, the film's look and design may be its strongest feature. Sets and effects are well-rendered but tend to draw attention from the narrative and characters.

With its outsize vision looming large over its story and characters, "The Chronicles of Riddick" is still an engaging piece of work. Its midsection's rote action beats do the overall experience few favors, but the film maintains a competent momentum. It is an exciting, good-looking space-bound adventure.