“Riddick”, the third film installment of “The Chronicles of Riddick” series, is a fantastic movie that drops the low fantasy elements of the second film also titled “The Chronicles of Riddick,” and gets back to the survival horror and group drama of the first movie “Pitch Black,” that made it such a cult hit.
Set on a very hostile alien planet, Riddick is hunted by mercenaries who soon find out that he isn’t the most dangerous thing on the planet.
This movie is incredibly enjoyable, albeit the first ten to fifteen minutes feel rather slow. The acting is top notch; Vin Diesel’s Riddick is still believably hard-as-nails. Jordi Molla is wonderfully hammy, and the supporting cast shines with believable and excellent acting throughout. Battlestar Galactica fans will also note that Katee Sackhoff’s character treads very familiar water.
The CGI and desert landscapes presented are also of high quality and feel suitably alien, though it still retains that B-movie sci-fi feel that made the last two live action films so enjoyable. Thankfully Riddick takes the opposite approach from movies like “The Avengers” or “Avatar,” and uses CGI sparingly, more like a top layer of icing. It relies more on writing and acting chops than giant explosions, monsters, or intense gun battles, and in fact some of the most interesting parts of the film are when the various inter-factions are interacting.
One of the greatest things about this film is how dynamic it is. Part of this is due to the strengths of the series as a whole; having seen Riddick develop through two previous movies, It is still difficult to decide where he belongs on a scale of good or evil and what motivations are behind his actions, and while this is not a particular internal conflict for Riddick, it sure makes dealing with him hard for the rest of the cast.
Now part of the problem with this movie is that if a viewer hasn’t seen the first two films, “Riddick” will feel a little disjointed. The opening scene might seem like it came out of the blue without the second film giving background on the Necromongers, and without seeing “Pitch Black,” the motivation of one character won’t make sense until the latter half of the movie.
Of course “Riddick” still stands well enough on its own, and everything that is necessary to know for its own enjoyment is there, but I still foresee a lot of eye rolling in the first ten to fifteen minutes by those who haven’t seen the first two films.
As previously mentioned, the opening pacing is a little slow, but after about ten or fifteen minutes it starts to pick up without being too overwhelming.
The film seems like it is meant to stand on the writing and dramatic moments, not on the few action scenes; some audiences may feel that the lack of these elements hurt this film.
In the end, “Riddick” is a film that seems geared towards those already sold on the series; it isn’t the best point to jump into the universe, but sci-fi fiends will still find it a great movie.