After three movies, the series involving Vin Diesel as Richard B. Riddick has been a slippery slope. "Pitch Black" in 1999 was a solid yet not-quite-great example of science fiction, while 2004's "The Chronicles of Riddick" was a piece of crap I'd rather not remember. Then in 2013, we got "Riddick," a movie I wasn't sure was really needed in the first place. But Diesel loves the material, I never thought though that "The Chronicles of Riddick" was profitable enough and popular enough for a third outing.
Surprisingly enough, "Riddick" was not a lot alike "The Chronicles of Riddick," probably for the better. "Riddick" is more of a direct sequel to "Pitch Black" than "The Chronicles of Riddick." We learn that after Riddick defeated the first Lord Marshall that he was called upon to be the next Lord Marshall. We learn that Riddick didn't like that idea and that Vaako (Karl Urban) attempted to take the mantle from him. All these ideas mesh together and Riddick ends up exiled on a desert planet. Those refinements of "The Chronicles of Riddick" we get in this sequel, everything plays much differently.
The first half hour feels very reminiscent of "There Will Be Blood." There is almost no dialogue in this stretch of the film. We see Riddick go through the day-to-day practices of staying alive on this planet, as well as the strange beasts he comes into contact with. Fans of the original "Pitch Black" will love this stretch of the film for nostalgic purposes. However, if this is your first "Riddick" movie, it may play out kind of boring. The film doesn't start revving up until the Bounty Hunters led by Santana (Jordi Molla) and the Mercenaries led by (Matthew Nable). Even as the bounty hunters and mercenaries try to plan an attack or argue about Riddick...it still feels a little boring. This is definitely a slow-burn movie up until the grand finale at the end. If you have have seen the previous films in this franchise, this one might disappoint a bit more than the previous two. If this is your first "Riddick" movie, I don't know what you'll think.
One thing is for sure, Vin Diesel has become this character and he makes it all effortless. You will be able to tell that he has surely become this character and understands what makes him a character in the first place. Karl Urban only has one scene as Vaako, so don't expect a lot from him. If you are a Jordi Molla fan, you will love his character here, as he plays a snooty prick like you wouldn't believe. Katee Sackoff, Dave Bautista, and Bokeem Woodbine also do well with what they have. I like that even though the movie didn't have a gargantuan budget, you can never really tell. The detail and cinematography of the film are worth the price of admission.
I feel this will be a movie that works for the right person. I can honestly say that I actually enjoyed some of it, once the film finally got going. I think the biggest compliment I can give "Riddick" is that it isn't an embarrassment like "The Chronicles of Riddick" and when I think back on the character, this will be the film I remember most, for mostly good reasons.
FINAL GRADE: B-