Riddick – Franchise Catch Up

I don’t know why I’ve never seen these films before. I’ve been aware of them since The Chronicles of Riddick came out, but just never watched it. It’s not that I was avoiding them, just hadn’t felt the need to watch it even though I’m a big sci-fi fan. I was talking to Tabby about something that we had watched, I can’t remember what and she said it was like Riddick. I said I’ve never seen it, so she said we should watch it and it would make a good catch up post.

For those that are new, Franchise Catch Up is where I take a series of films (of at least 3 or more) and binge watch them, writing a initial thoughts for each one shortly after watching it. If you haven’t seen the Riddick series and are curious, or you love the franchise and want to see what a newbie thinks, I hope you enjoy.

Pitch Black

From the voice over at the beginning I knew I was going to enjoy this one. I love sci-fi and this is a really good sci-fi horror. Vin Diesel is perfectly cast, the world is imaginative, although I wish we got more lore. I love the idea of Riddick’s eyes being brighter so he can see in the dark. The cast is great. When the horror gets going it’s well done. I do think it’s a little too slow towards the end, but it’s still enjoyable. A solid start to the series. I do like Riddick as a character, especially how he doesn’t change at the end and tries to leave without them. It’s almost a redemptive arc, but not quite. 

I also love how they used the lighting in the film. It’s got to be good when you call something Pitch Black, and it doesn’t disappoint. There are a lot of cool moments in the darkness in the later half of the film. It’s also well done with how light the first half is. I was expecting more action, but a horror is a nice surprise. I’m on board for the sequels and look forward to watching them.

The Chronicles of Riddick

This is what I expected from Riddick a fantasy/sci-fi with some interesting law and gorgeous design. I was surprised that the first one had more elements of horror and quite enjoyed it, here there is no horror. It’s straight up high concept fantasy in space. It feels a little like Dune, a little like Stargate and even a little Mad Max. But mostly its own thing. I love the way it looks, the aesthetics are all brilliant. The effects are honestly amazing and put a lot of films from today, almost 20 years later, to shame. The action looks great. All the characters are interesting. Diesel is great as Riddick. But I found this very hard to stay engaged with. It’s a slow film and beyond the lore it’s a very simple plot. It looks cool, but it’s essentially religious people hunt down those that are different convert them or kill them, they hunt down Riddick and he escapes until he doesn’t. I think this would have been better as a TV show honestly to spend more time with the world and let a more detailed story take place. I did enjoy it, but not as much as the first one. I have high hopes for Riddick.


The latest in the series so far. Tonally it’s a mix of the first two. It has the isolation and horror of the first one with the broader universe of the second one. I think this is actually the best one of the lot; even though the effects are often questionable, especially some of that dodgy CGI. I also don’t think I’ve ever been so aware that what I’m watching was filmed on sets. It was obvious that this was filmed on a smallish set with greenscreen backgrounds. It was the most interesting character wise and did keep the pace up. There was also a few laugh out loud moments. Riddick slicing that guy’s head in half and the animal who is gutted and lives long enough to try and eat his own stomach.

It does feel like a step backwards in relation to the universe building of the second one. It’s a lot smaller on scale. I would love there to be a long running series of comics featuring the universe, it would be interesting to see more of it.

Final Thoughts

I quite enjoyed all 3 films. They’re nothing spectacular, but they are interesting and fun enough. I think it would work better as a TV show as the world it builds up is interesting but takes a back seat to the very simple narratives of each one. There is supposedly a fourth one in the works, which will be good. Vin Diesel is great as Riddick and is a perfect casting. The first one is probably the most well-made of the lot with the tightest script, but I like the third one the best personally because by this point I knew Riddick well enough. I would happily watch these again, but they won’t be making my favourites of all time list.

About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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