All of the box office competition, save for a particular boy wizard, bowed to "The Chronicles Of Riddick," which finished in second place in its debut weekend.

The Universal Pictures' science-fiction adventure, starring Vin Diesel, opened with $24.6 million, while "Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban" remained at No. 1 with $34.9 million, $157.9 million in ten days.

The sequel to the 2000 cult hit, "Pitch Black," the film re-introduces everyone to Richard B. Riddick (Diesel), Riddick for short, this time sporting long hair and matching beard. Riddick, an escaped convict, was hiding out on a lonely planet until he's discovered by bounty hunters. Seeking to cash in on Riddick's capture is Toombs (Nick Chinlund), and their attempt comes up short.

Riddick makes his way to his friend, Abu "Imam" al-Walid (Keith David), and cleans himself up just in time to come face-to-face with a horde of Necromongers, who are looking to replenish their ranks.

Riddick is one of the few surviving Furions, vicious warriors who've been captured and turned into Necromongers. However, Riddick is above and beyond most Furions, as he's able to defeat and capture a Necromonger fighter ship with relative ease.

The Necromongers hail their Lord Marshal (Colm Feore), an evil ruler with unique powers. Lord Marshal wants everybody to become a Necromonger, and conquers as many planets as possible to make that happen. Either you become a Necromonger, or die. Those who join them are promised a pain-free existence, and an opportunity to live in the Underverse.

Potentially standing in his way is his head henchman, Vaako (Karl Urban) and his wife, Dame Vaako (Thandie Newton), who want to overthrow Lord Marshal.

Eventually Riddick is captured by the Necromongers, and while meeting Dame Vaako, takes a deep whiff and says, "It's been a long time since I smelled beautiful." Finally imprisoned, he meets up with Kyra (Alexa Davalos), who's grown up since the first movie. Once they manage to free themselves from the prison, they fight their way across Crematoria, a planet whose intense sun casts over the horizon every 15 minutes and burns to a crisp everything beneath it.

Riddick finds himself one-on-one with Vaako, who's ordered by Lord Marshal to defeat him. Thinking himself to be successful, Vaako returns to Lord Marshal, and gains further acceptance, while still plotting Marshal's demise.

Once Riddick re-appears and Vaako's plot is divulged, a showdown between Riddick and Lord Marshal looms.

"The Chronicles Of Riddick" is a tale of two movies, with the beginning quarter of the film featuring Riddick and the origin of the Necromongers. The entire middle part involves Riddick meeting up with an adult Kyra, whom he formally knows as Jack. The duo, along with other convicts, fight off Toombs and the other jailers, while the sub-plot with Vaako and Lord Marshal was hardly shown. The final quarter of the film basically throws the Necromongers back into the picture, as they'd been forgotten for over an hour.

The special effects, including the Necromongers lair, has a "Metropolis"-type feel with huge three-sided head statutes and rows and rows of aluminum-foiled soldiers with iron skullcaps on marching across the planet. The large beasts that attack the convicts in prison are semi-life-like, and it's humorous as Riddick manages to tame one like a lost puppy.

Those who feel that Diesel made a huge mistake in choosing this film over making "2Fast2Furious" last year, might think again. Granted, it shouldn't take so long for a sequel to a neo-hit such as "Pitch Black" to be made, however, Riddick is the role most of us have come to know Diesel initially from. His scowl and growl, along with twitching, two-toned eyes, make for a decent hero, and there is actually room in this film for another sequel to take place.

Unlike a kick to the head, especially from Kyra's spiked boots, "The Chronicles Of Riddick" was worth the wait at three out of four stars.

"The Chronicles Of Riddick" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action and some language. Running time is 1 hour, 59 minutes.

DreamWorks "Shrek 2," which fell from No. 2 to No. 3, is now the No.1 animated film of all time, surpassing last year's "Finding Nemo." With $354 million so far, "Shrek 2" is ranked the ninth-highest grossing film of all time.

Twenty Century Fox's "The Day After Tomorrow" is on ice, falling to the sixth slot with $14.5 million, $153.1 million in three weeks.

Now at No. 8 is "Troy," dropping from No. 5 with $3.4 million - $125.6 million overall.

"Mean Girls" moved from No. 6 to No. 10 with $1.4 million bringing it to its seven-week total of $81.3 million.

For more information contact Regal Cinemas Marketplace 24, 180 Mill Road, Oaks, at 610-666-6697.

Dennis J. Wright can be reached at dwright@phoenixvillenews.com.

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