This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
This film is definitely very ambitious. It actually does something that I thought was clever which I’ll get into but ultimately it’s squandered away by tons of animal violence throughout the film and another batch of super unlikable characters. Seriously there is at least one character here who really should have gotten taken out way sooner. This is a survival film through and through which doesn’t hold back.
The movie starts off with Riddick stranded on a desert planet. See, he may have been strong back in the day but he’s lost a step once he became king. He allows himself to be suckered by the most obvious traitor of all time and gets absolutely devastated. I couldn’t believe this, he really just lost to a super whiny character in a situation that was obviously a trap? Well, Riddick has decided to see the silver lining here and figures he will train until he is ruthless and a super powerful beast again. The first half of the film is about him learning how each of the different wildlife acts and adapting himself in turn. It doesn’t make for a very enjoyable watch but it’s interesting. See I thought the whole film was going to be about this and it would have been an experimental film without much dialogue.
Then the two annoying groups of bounty hunters show up and I realized the angle that I liked here. See, when a group shows up on an alien planet the movie is always about them getting picked off one by one from the mysterious alien creatures and the serial killer on the loose. Well, this time we got to see all of them first and then we’re introduced to the villains. So it was sort of a reverse scenario right there. I like the idea behind it at least but the film doesn’t really make the most of it. First off the original group are basically all villains with no interests greater than their primal desires. One of them wants to assault the heroine from the second film throughout the movie, the main guy just wants the money for capturing and murdering Riddick, the other are here for money.
There isn’t much to these villains and the problem is that the personalities that we do get just aren’t that good. For example the perverted villain should have been murdered several times during the movie. Each time the girl would beat him up which is cool and all but considering his intentions he should have absolutely been murdered the second time. I was hoping Riddick really had sabotaged the equipment room so that as soon as the guy opened it, it would blow up. That would have been fantastic because this guy seriously didn’t contribute anything. Bumping him out of the movie would have been a great idea.
The main villain is your classic coward who can only make a move when everything is in his favor. Otherwise the guy just folds immediately and really isn’t much of a leader. So that leads us to the second group and at least they were decent. The leader is the father of the main villain from the first film and unlike his son he actually seems like a very capable commander. The tension here is wondering if the guy will turn evil and fold at the first sign of adversity like his son or if he will do well to the end. It works as a nice parallel even if you have a general idea of where this will go. The movie does a good job of giving you enough fake-outs and turns to keep you guessing. He was a good character though.
I also liked Dahl who was the lady who kept beating up the first punk. She was tough and could hold her own in a fight. Considering how often she was targeted Dahl did a great job of always watching her back and keeping her gun ready. I just feel like keeping the guy alive was too much of a risk considering that he had no moral compass at all. The rest of the mercenaries are mainly forgettable but in general the team of professionals were way better than the random bunch of bounty hunters.
Riddick was back to looking like a true professional after the opening scene so he was really good here. He perhaps took too many risks though once he tried bartering with the other hunters. I feel like his plan wasn’t very strong when he went off to meet them and could have been picked off at any time. He had the power cores as insurance but even so it was a really big gamble that ultimately didn’t pay off. He lost his dog as a result of his plan after all.
Horrible scene by the way and one of the many moments that doomed this film. The instant he adopted an alien dog I knew things weren’t going well and that’s always rough. It’s come to the point where you don’t want to see an animal in any film because you know that’s going to be used as easy revenge bait. Films need to resist this and yet they have not been able to so far. I need the film to surpass its limits and go away from that but it’s probably going to be a while at this rate. Beyond the dog you also have a lot of creatures getting eaten and ripped to pieces either by Riddick or by other creatures.
It’s one reason why survival films rarely end up being very good because part of the genre is seeing what the heroes are surviving and inevitably that means a bunch of animals are going to die. It’s unfortunate but that’s usually what it boils down to. This film goes back to embracing the violence on a high scale like the first film and definitely gets really excessive. Throw in the sub par cast of character and you really have a losing formula here. It’s easily the weakest of the 3 films so the movie series ends on a sour note.
Overall, There’s no real reason to watch this film. You’re better off watching the original if you want the alien plot or checking out the second one for the lore. Of course all the lore gets thrown out here as they make Riddick look super sloppy to have an excuse for the film 2 cast to beat him up. The opening just makes him look soooo bad. I also feel like it wasn’t smart to change the venue so drastically like this because it makes film 2 completely pointless but I suppose it is what it is. Maybe if we get a 4th film they’ll course correct again and go back to the sci-fi wars of the second film. That would actually be pretty funny but something tells me the 4th film will take a while.