Now Playing: ‘Riddick,’ ‘Spark’ slide into theaters

This is the first edition of Now Playing, a column dedicated to informing the great citizens of San Francisco what new movies — big and small — are coming to a theater near them.

Generally, this column will highlight new films being released into theaters. Unfortunately, the first week of September is a notoriously slow and sluggish one in the movie industry. Thus, I apologize in advance for the slim pickings.


Plot: The fourth film of the Riddick trilogy pits the titular anti-hero against an alien race of predators.

Info: Directed by David Twohy (A Perfect Getaway and Pitch Black), starring Vin Diesel, Karl Urban, and Katee Sackhoff.

Theater: Wide-release, in multiplexes here.

Critical response: At 54% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is receiving lukewarm reviews. Eric D. Snider of Twitch wrote:

“‘Riddick’ wisely takes things back down a notch, returning to Pitch Black’s simple formula of scary creatures, scarier humans, and a barren planet.”

Conversely, Amy Nicholson of L.A. Weekly insists:

“We must pan for scraps of pleasure-a scene where Diesel poses naked on a cliff like a truck stop coyote, the way half of his attacks look like rhythmic gymnastics.”

‘Spark: A Burning ManStory’

Plot: A documentary focusing on the wild and radical Burning Man festival that occurs every year in the Black Rock desert of Nevada.

Info: Directed by Steve Brown and Jessie Deeter.

Theater: Limited release, Roxie Theater and Rialto Cinemas Elmwood.

Critical response: Since there haven’t been many screenings for critics, the film hasn’t been widely reviewed. Nick Usen of Slant Magazine said:

“Ultimately, the doc suffers from a too-roving eye: Though it ostensibly wishes to reveal the sacrifice that’s required to make Burning Man go off without a hitch, it’s more interested in the spectacle of painted ravers writhing around in the desert.”

Check back next week to read about what films to see and where to see them.