I was pleasantly surprised by Riddick.
If you’ve seen the trailers you know he is hunted by bounty hunters before a monster storm (an actual monster bringing storm) is going to put everyone’s life in danger.
The first act deals with Riddick surviving where he is, and some flashback scenes are thrown in to show us how he got there from what happened after the end of Chronicles of Riddick. Then, it gets to the part where the bounty hunters come in. Some reviews have called it poorly paced, probably because of that first act, but it’s important to the character. It’s necessary to remind you that he is very dangerous given what happens to him in the post-Chronicles of Riddick flashback, where he himself mentions losing his edge.
Act two pretty much abandons Riddick as the focus and turns him into an offscreen predator. We don’t know where he is anymore than the people looking for him do. It creates a good amount of tension. Kind of like a slasher film where you’re routing for the killer.
Then, of course, Act three is where it all hits the fan.
The movie’s two hours, but it fills out its length nicely. The first act might seem a little long, but, like I said, it’s important for the rest of the movie.
Maybe I don’t remember Chronicles of Riddick as well as Pitch Black, even though I don’t remember Pitch Black THAT well, but it seems David Twohy has counted on more people seeing Riddick because they were fans of Pitch Black than because they were Chronicles of Riddick fans. This plot is a lot more reminiscent of Pitch Black and seems to have more nods to that film.
Do you need to see Pitch Black before you see Riddick? Nope. It’ll be nice if you’ve seen it at all, because then you’ll have a few “oooh yeeeeah” moments, but it’s not necessary. They do a pretty good job of incorporating all of what you need to know into the dialogue/narration.
The action and violence are handled well. There’s a few times when Riddick seems to float jump, and there’s a scene where three guys are riding futuristic motorcycles that looks a little cheesy, but other than that it’s good. The monsters look good and the gore isn’t lame looking.
Riddick isn’t a comedy, but it has its funny moments. Bonus points for not taking itself too seriously. It’s fun basic sci-fi action. If you liked something like Starship Troopers (why wouldn’t you have?) you should have no trouble enjoying Riddick. Actually, if Paul Verhoeven directed this in the early-mid 90’s it probably would have reviewed a lot better and would have almost been guaranteed to become a cult classic.
Go with the intention of seeing a fun movie and you won’t be disappointed.