Riddick

Universal Pictures

Rated R for profanity, nudity, sexuality and graphic violence

Vin Diesel Reprises Role As Alien Antihero In Futuristic Sci-fi Adventure

When we first met Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) in Pitch Black, the notorious criminal had been arrested by a bounty hunter and was being transported to prison when the spaceship encountered a comet and had to make a crash-landing on an uncharted planet. He escaped, and proceeded to elude his captors in a gruesome struggle for survival which would consume most of their lives.

The higher attrition-rate sequel served up more of the same while, at the point of departure of this episode, we find the feral title character still at large but marooned on yet another desolate planet. Now, he’s being hunted by two teams of badass mercenaries, one led by the father (Matt Nable) of the bounty hunter he’d wasted in the original.

Although Riddick is wanted dead or alive, the reward is double if he’s brought back in a body bag. Of course, that’s easier said than done, since this seemingly-indomitable alien from planet Furya was blessed with superhuman strength, intuition, willpower and night vision, traits which combine to make him a formidable enemy, even when outnumbered badly by pursuers armed to the teeth.

So, this installment boils down to an intergalactic posse’s attempt to apprehend Riddick as he tries to figure out a way to hijack one of the rockets in order to return to his faraway homeland teeming with water, grass and other signs of life. Too bad the scriptwriters of this boring installment ran out of new ideas for their flagging franchise.

Consequently, Riddick does little more than generate a vague sense of déjà vu between the barren backdrop (except for a swarm of voracious critters) and the familiar ways in which the elusive antihero’s adversaries are dispatched. After all, how many different ways can you lop off a head or gut a guy so his entrails spill out?

This edition even includes another round of titillation coming courtesy of a token blonde, in this case Katee Sackhoff as a lipstick lesbian whose sexual preference tends to frustrate the testosterone-blinded members of the all-male crew sharing the space station’s cramped quarters. Nevertheless, job one remains tracking Riddick with the assistance of dubious “futuristic” technology explained by what might best be best described as pseudoscientific nuttery.

A derivative disappointment that’s more of an uninspired remake than a groundbreaking sequel.

Fair (1 star)

Running Time: 119 minutes

 

 

Winnie Mandela

Image Entertainment

R for violence and profanity

Jennifer Hudson Portrays Infamous Political Icon In Warts-And-All Biopic

Winnie Mandela (Jennifer Hudson) is a controversial figure in the annals of South African history. For not only was she the first wife of freedom fighter-turned-President Nelson Mandela (Terrence Howard), but she was also convicted of ordering numerous human rights violations.

At the height of the anti-apartheid movement, she headed a goon squad which doled out street justice to blacks suspected of collaborating with the white establishment. With Winnie’s blessing, snitches would be sentenced to death by necklace, meaning by having a gasoline-soaked tire placed on their shoulders and set on fire.

And after the fall of Apartheid, she confessed before the country’s Truth And Reconciliation Commission to “the murder, torture, abduction and assault of numerous men, women and children.” So, it’s understandably hard to put a sympathetic spin on such an infamous political figure.

That is the challenge tackled by director Darrell Roodt in Winnie Mandela, a warts-and-all biopic which focuses on its subject’s childhood, college days and marriage while making short shrift of her transition into a war criminal. Along the way, we learn that she was a headstrong tomboy who blossomed into the irresistible beauty that Nelson fell in love with at first sight.

Sadly, the two were separated for 27 years while he was imprisoned onRobbenIslandfor treason because of his call for an end to Apartheid. And perhaps that was what led Winnie to rationalize resorting to fighting the government and stool pigeons by any means necessary.

As for the acting, Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard do their best to adopt appropriate accents, but they both sound fake since they’re surrounded by a cast comprised of actual South Africans. The production’s most glaring flaw, nevertheless, is that the poorly-scripted screenplay simply fails to give the audience much of a reason to invest in unlikable Winnie’s life story.

Winnie Mandela, less an honorable “Mother Of The Nation,” than a disgraceful, “bad mother-[shut your mouth]!”

 

Fair (1 star)

Running time: 107 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening September 13, 2013

 

Insidious: Chapter 2 (PG-13 for terror, intense violence and mature themes) Horror sequel finds the Lamberts reunited and again haunted by a series of increasingly-terrifying paranormal events while unraveling the mystery linking them to the spirit world. Starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey.

 

The Family (R for violence, profanity and brief sexuality) Mafia comedy about an American mobster-turned-snitch (Robert De Niro) living with his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) and kids (Dianna Agron and John D’Leo) in a tiny town in France where he proceeds to blow his cover much to the consternation of the CIA agent (Tommy Lee Jones) assigned to hide them in the Witness Protection Program. With Domenick Lombardozzi, Vincent Pastore and Dominic Chianese.

 

And While We Were Here (R for profanity, some sexuality and brief drug use) Romance drama revolving around a jaded writer (Kate Bosworth) stuck in a stale marriage who gets her groove back by embarking on a steamy affair with a young college student (Iddo Goldberg) while doing research on the island of Ischia for her grandmother’s (Claire Bloom) memoir. With Jamie Blackley.

 

Blue Caprice (R for profanity, drug use and disturbing violence) Beltway sniper saga chronicling the exploits of the infamous serial killers (Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond) who terrorized the entire Washington, D.C. area during the month of October in 2002. With Tim Blake Nelson, Joey Lauren Adams and Leo Fitzpatrick.

 

Four (R for sexuality, profanity and brief drug use) Day-in-the-life drama set on a very eventful Fourth of July on which a married man (Wendell Pierce) cheats on his bedridden wife (Yolonda Ross) with a closeted teen (Emory Cohen) he meets online at the same time that his daughter (Aja Naomi King) is entertaining the advances of a drug-addicted, ex-basketball star (E.J. Bonilla) she met at the mall. With Liam Benzi, Andrea Herbert and Kathryn Meisle.

 

Herb & Dorothy 50X50 (Unrated) Bittersweet sequel follows recently-widowed Dorothy Vogel as she divvies up her and her late husband’s legendary art collection among museums located in all 50 states.

 

Jayne Mansfield’s Car (R for profanity, sexuality, nudity, drug use and bloody images) Class-conscious drama, set in 1969, about the tensions which arise when a clan ofAlabama hillbillies’ relatively rich relations arrive fromEngland for the funeral of the family matriarch. Starring Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon, Billy Bob Thornton and Tippi Hedren.

 

The Last Time I Saw Macao (Unrated) Nostalgic documentary about a filmmaker (Joao Rui Guerra Da Mata) who ventures from Portugal to his native Macao for the first time in 30 years after being summoned back by a cross-dressing former flame (Joao Pedro Rodrigues). With Lydie Barbara and Cindy Scrash. (In Portuguese with subtitles)

 

Money For Nothing (Unrated) Central banking exposé, narrated by Liev Schreiber, detailing the Federal Reserve System’s ability to manipulate the world’s economy. With appearances by former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, economist Janet Yellen and investment strategist Jeremy Grantham.

 

Sample This (Unrated) Hip-hop documentary revealing the pivotal role that The Incredible Bongo Band played in the creation of rap music. Includes commentary by R&B diva Freda Payne, gridiron great Rosey Grier and Kiss frontman Gene Simmons.

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