This review was originally written for Blueprint: Review.
The last time we saw Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) he was being crowned leader of the Necromongers, a race of deeply religious killers who destroy anyone who does not accept their way of life, but five years later he once again finds himself lost and alone on a strange planet, battered and bloody, fighting for his life against humans and alien creatures alike. Where is he and why is he there? Riddick doesn’t care; he’s just trying to survive. Many fans of Pitch Black, Riddick’s first cinematic foray, were left disappointed by the bloated and overly-talkative sequel, 2004′s The Chronicles of Riddick, which took a sharp turn from the action and general frenetic awesomeness that was the original. Luckily, series director David Twohy has returned to the balls-out Furyan fury for this third installment, which brings back everything that was great about the first movie and a heck of a lot more to boot.Essentially this is a film of three parts, with the first segment finding Riddick awaking in mysterious, golden hued surroundings, with numerous injuries you or I would struggle to crawl away from, yet being an ultimate badass the man just gets on with living and fixes himself right up, all the while fighting off the resident life forms that fancy themselves a slice of carved Riddick rump. The creatures encountered are well designed, retaining a level of realism whilst remaining distinctly otherworldly. There’s the packs of pterodactyl-like birds, bipedal amphibious velociraptors with giant scorpion tails, and a kind of zebra/hyena hybrid, one of whom our hero deems worthy of keeping as a pet, leading to roughly thirty minutes of some enjoyable one man and his dog antics. This is arguably the best section of the film – largely dialogue-free, with Riddick simply surviving on an alien world, attempting to reach new places and getting used to his new life, with a heavy dose of natural obstacles to make it more interesting.Alas, this existence cannot last, as an event on the horizon causes Riddick to call in a taxi in the form of setting off a distress beacon to bring in two competing teams of bounty hunters after the still-active prize on the fugitive’s head. Thus commences act two, Riddick vs. the mercenaries, which brings with it a cavalcade of fun, interesting but for the most part barely two-dimensional characters. Pick of the bunch are Katee Sackhoff’s Dahl, second-in-command of the more professional of the crews, and the only female amongst them, and Dave Bautista’s Diaz, whose performance here has left me less concerned for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie, in which the professional wrestler and mixed martial artist will be playing Drax the Destroyer.It’s here that the film starts to lose its focus, denying us time with the eponymous killer in favour of the ones that have come to collect him, but that doesn’t mean this becomes a bad film, it just cools a little. It’s clear that budgetary reasons and relatively expensive first and third acts required the majority of the second to play out inside small rooms, but there’s still plenty to enjoy here, including what is easily one of my favourite character deaths of recent times; using a machete in a highly implausible but mightily entertaining fashion. The final act sees everything left being thrown at the screen as the surviving mercs must team up with their intended prey to face a bigger threat, which brings back elements of the initial third but from a new perspective, as what was once a minor annoyance becomes a terrifying threat to the survivors’ existence.The last minute turnaround of a significant character left a bad taste in the mouth, and there’s not nearly enough Bokeem Woodbine for my liking (but when is there?), but there’s a lot to enjoy here, particularly for fans of Pitch Black. If you’ve got an urge to see an animal eat its own innards, for example, then this is most definitely the film for you.
Choose film 7/10