You see, I’m just not sure where this series goes wrong. This was the last gasp, Vin Diesel put up his own money and secured financing for this film because he believed in the character. I think he was right about that as well, he sees what I see in it, but perhaps fails to understand what’s required to make it work.
Approach. Perhaps it’s greatest problem is that it’s to back to basics. In a lot of ways I feel like I seen this story before and it borrows far too heavily from Pitch Black. We start off with Riddick stranded on a alien planet with absolutely gorgeous alien life forms. It’s one of the things that has always impressed me about this series and this entry in particular, just how well thought-out the creatures are. When I was a teenager I really was into Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials. Wayne Barlowe had an excellent grasp on anatomy and really thought out his creature designs. I get that same kind of vibe from this film.
As Riddick struggles to survive, he finds a way station and sends out an announcement that he’s at this location knowing rightly, that it will be picked up by bounty hunters. The bounty hunters arrive and the fun begins.
At this point it takes on most of the elements from Pitch Black but is missing a couple of key things here. Riddick is still very much the main character though we switch our focus in great part to the bounty hunters. This is a good thing, because we need other characters that we can relate to and root for here. What’s really missing however, is the heart. there’s something about the kid in Pitch Black that really a sense of peril and of warmth and humanity to the film and it’s been missing ever since. It’s still missing here. Vin Diesel is attempting to create a sort of carbon copy of pitch black but misses the mark by neglecting to infuse the soul of the film with heart. I like creepy monsters and I’m very happy that the violence and gore has been ratcheted up here (We finally have our R rating!). It’s just not enough, you need something new. You need a better story.
I’d like to see more in this universe I’d like to see more of these characters but with the failure to really zone in on a formula, I fear this franchise is dead for good.
That doesn’t mean I’m finished though. More next time.