I really wanted to like Riddick, I really did.

Pitch Black (2000) introduced us to the enigmatic anti-hero and it’s follow-up The Chronicles of Riddick (2005), while tepidly received, was an honourable failure in my opinion. It may have lacked the punch of its predecessor, but it had ambition and a good ensemble of characters.

With this third instalment, simply titled Riddick, writer and director David Twohy has taken the series back to it’s roots and deserted Riddick on desolate planet, with nothing but his wits and a few sharp blades to defend himself against the native nasties that reside there.

Initially the film shows promise – for once we see Riddick vulnerable, wounded and betrayed, much of the opening sequences deal with Riddick adopting various techniques to survive in this new alien terrain much like an intergalactic Bear Grills.

It’s all plodding along quite nicely, but once a bunch of mercenaries turn up looking for Riddick, things begin to fall apart rather quickly.

Riddick

With the introduction of new characters comes the realisation that the script is just not up to scratch and the clunky dialogue is only exacerbated by the clunky delivery.

Throw in some half hearted effort to tenuously link the proceedings of this film to certain aspects of Pitch Black, casual viewer patience is tested to limit.

During the films production, Vin Diesel has made no secret that this film is for the fans and for that I do admire his respect for the character – but even as someone who mildly enjoyed the previous two films, the attempts to connect this film to its predecessors just comes off as a bit forced.

Riddick is also incredibly misogynistic in places.

There are two female characters in the film and neither are treated with the same respect and attention that was given to the likes of Carolyn Fry (Pitch Black), Kyra, Aereon and Dame Vaako (all from The Chronicals of Riddick).

While Katee Sackhoff’s Dahl is a strong female character in this male dominated corner of the universe, the way the script handles her relationship with Riddick and her sexuality is quite insulting and leads to some questionable lines of dialogue from Riddick which seem totally out of character.

Pitch Black worked because for the best part of the film Carolyn Fry was arguably the lead and the initial character to route for.

With Dahl, the film just gives the impression that she is there to fend off constant rape threats and repeatedly tell all the horny, bullish and two-dimensional male bounty hunters that she is a lesbian (spoilers: except, rather predictably when Riddick is hitting on her).

Riddicks biggest problem is that it just doesn’t know what it wants to be.

On one hand it’s trying to get back to its Pitch Black roots, on the other it’s trying to further develop the mythology established in The Chronicles of Riddick.

By the time the film reaches its anticlimactic conclusion it all becomes clear that Riddick is just the sum of its parts, taking the worst aspects from previous instalments and leaving behind the parts that were actually worth exploring.

In the films defence, it’s got to be said that creature design is pretty impressive, with the mud demons bearing some resemblance to the various monsters glimpsed in Prometheus. Riddicks sound design also strikes a chord in a number of scenes.

However, during other scenes the set design looks no better than the sort of work you’d see in a TV series such as Star Trek: The Next Generation and at times, the CGI is barely passable for a cinematic feature.

It’s pretty clear that the budget was stretched to the limit.

That said, even with a budget to match that of The Chronicles of Riddick, there’d be no getting away from the fact that the story is a nasty, bloated, boring and predictable piece of work.

Riddick will probably find its audience, but for me this will have to go down as a missed opportunity.

VERDICT:
[rating=2]

About The Author

Colin lives in south west London. Looks like a hobbit and has been watching films ever since he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 3. You can follow Colin on Twitter @obicolkenobi.