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This ambitious follow-up to Pitch Black eschews the original's stylish minimalism and character-driven plotting in favor of lavish production values that include opulent settings, state-of-the-art special effects, and elaborate action sequences. Writer-director David Twohy once again builds a futuristic narrative around Riddick (Vin Diesel), the amoral ex-con fated to wind up in dangerous situations on faraway planets. This time he's pitted against the evil Lord Marshal (Colm Feore) and the Necromongers, a quasi-religious cult bent on killing or converting all humans. Riddick is torn between Aereon (Judi Dench), the benevolent ambassador of a race of elementals, and Dame Vaako (Thandie Newton), a power-hungry, manipulative Necromonger who would love to see her husband in Marshal's shoes. Twohy borrows story elements from numerous sci-fi books, most notably Frank Herbert's Dune, but synthesizes them to create a substantially original concept. Riddick is still the tough, taciturn outsider, forced to participate in a crusade he'd just as soon ignore; Diesel imbues him with the same brutish charisma the character exhibited in Pitch Black, and the sequel backs him up with a more accomplished cast.