In terms of ranking the series, Riddick is far from Pitch Black perfect, though slightly better than Chronicles. David Twohy once again helms the sci-fi saga and turns in a carbon copy of his first entry. But where Pitch Black successfully preyed on our fears of the dark and unknown for 108 minutes, Riddick trades for 30-minutes of dog training, followed by 90-minutes of Riddick and pup dispatching henchmen. Oh, and Katee Sackhoff gets naked momentarily.
The movie opens to a battle-worn Riddick. He is broken, bloody and covered in rubble. Vin Diesel guides the audience through cornball narration about how he ended up in this state of disarray. The events in Riddick immediately follow those that occurred in Chronicles. Richard B. Riddick is the Lord Marshall of the Necromonger empire, made possible by “keeping what he killed”. But Riddick still has hopes for returning to Furya, trading his crown for a ride to the volatile planet. When he finally arrives, Riddick is double-crossed and left for dead. This brings us to present events.
Riddick makes his way to a deserted mercenary outpost where he signals his presence via a distress beacon. He is still a wanted-man across the galaxy with a hefty bounty attached to his corpse. Two teams of mercenary’s arrive, one full of movie cliche punching bags, the other more organized and calculated, including pop-culture babe, Sackhoff, as Dahl. Everyone is stalked by an encroaching storm full of really, really bad monsters.
If the audience is familiar with Pitch Black, Riddick is that film with more gore and grander set pieces.
Give credit to Twohy and Diesel for ditching the Necromongers and getting back to what made this blood expo fun. Chronicles all but killed the franchise (on film), so kudos for somewhat righting the ship. Initially, the prospects of our anti-hero fighting for survival on a deserted wasteland are promising, Vin Diesel’s physique and delivery are just interesting enough to make it work. However, the solo act doesn’t live long before Twohy introduces a fuzzy sidekick and new victims for Riddick to consume, showing a lack of confidence in the character, maybe even Diesel. Unfortunately, there is no amount of blood and guts rampage, alone, that can hold up a film in today’s market. The product is unwanted deja vu.