At the Movies

Magnolia Pictures

Morton Downey, Jr., left, berates a guest on his 1980s talk show. The controversial TV star, who died 12 years ago, is the subject of the documentary “Evocateur,” playing at the Back Space Theatre.

New in Theaters

Evocateur: The Morton Downey, Jr. Movie (Playing at the Back Space Theatre, 1120 Main Ave., 259-7940, www.thebackspacetheatre.org)

East-coasters may have a better memory of the 20-month TV career of Morton Downey, Jr. than many of our western friends, but those of us who know will never forget the loudmouthed, offensive, chain-smoking talk show host who just may have set television on its current path of over-the-top antics and reality TV. Thanks, Mort.

Riddick (Playing at the Durango Stadium 9.) “Somewhere along the way I lost a step,” says Vin Diesel, aka that gravelly voiced, visually impaired, planet-hopping outlaw and badass they call Riddick. “I went and got sloppy.”

He’s talking about how he ended up on a desolate planet facing murderous canine creatures and giant deadly serpents. But he could just as easily be talking about the lethally inadequate screenplay he’s up against. “Sloppy” is a kind word, actually, for the ridiculously clumsy dialogue in “Riddick,” the third and latest installment of the sci-fi saga.

Of course, none of this will likely matter to the hard-core fans who’ve been waiting for this movie since the 2004 “Chronicles of Riddick,” a successor to the 2000 “Pitch Black.” Even though that megabudget film tanked at the box office, it fed the franchise’s avid cult following, as have a pair of video games.

And fans will no doubt be especially happy that in “Riddick” – its title now streamlined, along with its budget – no compromises have been made for a wimpy PG-13 rating. No, it’s an R this time, which allows for a few characters to meet a particularly gory end (don’t run out for popcorn during the second half!), not to mention free-wheeling profanity and one gratuitous nude scene.

Not all is bleak. The bald and beefy Diesel, whose sturdy commercial appeal is proven again and again with the huge success of the “Fast & Furious” franchise, is always fun to watch. But his presence alone, comfortably durable as it is, can’t make up for the total lack of other interesting characters in the screenplay by David Twohy, who also directs. Alas, that includes Katee Sackhoff as the lone female, a feisty bounty hunter named Dahl. The name sounds exactly like Doll, which is basically her role; she’s pretty but has no interesting backstory or dialogue, save one profane comeback sure to draw hearty cheers.

If you didn’t see “The Chronicles of Riddick” – or if you saw it and didn’t quite follow the overwrought plot – you’ll be OK here, because only brief references are made to Riddick’s checkered past. A quick flashback reminds us that when we last saw him, he’d been crowned the Lord Marshal of those dark Necromongers. But hey, the grass is always greener in outer space, and what Riddick really wants is to return to his home world, Furya.

So he makes a deal with his enemy, Vaako (Karl Urban, appearing here for a few seconds). But that’s where he’s gotten sloppy. He’s duped – dropped onto a desolate, dangerous place called, well, Not Furya. He’s badly wounded, too. And then there are those vicious dogs, and those scary serpent creatures.

But this is Riddick, and somehow, he makes his way to an abandoned mercenary post and sends out an emergency signal. His plan is to escape on the ship of the bounty hunters sure to arrive any minute.

And arrive they do – two competing bands of them. One is led by the almost comically inept Santana (Jordi Molla), who’s intent on beheading Riddick, and has brought a box along for that purpose. The bounty, you see, is doubled if Riddick is brought back dead.

But Boss Johns (a square-jawed Matt Nable) has other ideas. He’s the head of the other band, and he has some important questions for Riddick – preferably to be answered while that shiny bald head remains in place.

Will Riddick, as always a one-man army, somehow survive? “I don’t know how many times I’ve been crossed off the list and left for dead,” he says at one point. “This ain’t nothing new.” Like the character, this franchise may yet rise again, but let’s hope that next time, the filmmakers do bring something new.

“Riddick,” a Universal Studios release, is rated R for “strong violence, language and some sexual content/nudity.” Running time: 119 minutes. H½ out of four.

JOCELYN NOVECK, AP National Writer

Still Showing

Durango Stadium 9

(Next to Durango Mall, 247-9799, www.allentheatresinc.com)

Blackfish. (Wednesday only.) A smashing documentary about killer whales in captivity who – surprise, surprise – have a nasty habit of occasionally killing a staff member or two. Funny how they never kill people in the wild, only when kept in a swimming pool and poked with sticks. Go figure. Rated PG-13.

Closed Circuit. Two lawyers have their hands full dealing with a London terrorist bombing, and of course everything is caught on camera. You’d think that would make things easier...Rated R.

Getaway. A formulaic thing in which Ethan Hawke races around an Eastern European city racing against the clock to avoid some catastrophe or other. Rated PG-13.

The World’s End. When some guys try to complete an epic pub crawl from their glory days, they find that the world has changed in more ways than one. Rated R.

You’re Next. This is a horror film, so in this case you don’t want to be next. Rated R.

Planes. (In standard format and digital 3-D with surcharge.) If they can make it talk, they’ll make a movie out of it. This one has planes. They talk. Rated PG.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. The next book-to-film installment in this latest mega-gazillion-dollar moneymaker. Rated PG.

Elysium. All the rich folks move to a paradise in the clouds while the poor folks wallow in squalor back on Earth. Some seek a better life. Rated R.

We’re the Millers. Jason Sudeikis creates a family from a bunch of derelicts to cover his drug-running activities. Rated R.

Gaslight Cinema

(102 Fifth St. Next to the railroad depot, 247-8133, www.allentheatresinc.com)

Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Forest Whitaker plays the butler who served presidents for three decades at the White House. Oh, the stories he could tell ... Rated PG-13.

The Way Way Back. An introverted 14-year old tries to survive summer vacation with his mom and her boyfriend (Steve Carell). Rated PG-13.

Animas City Theatre

(128 E. College Drive, 799-2281, www.animascitytheatre.com)

20 Feet from Stardom. The background singers who made so many great records great finally get their moment in the spotlight in this first class documentary.

Ted Holteen and Associated PresS

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