Back in 2000, I watched a simple no-frills, nearly no-name movie called “Pitch Black”. In the theater, no less! The plot was paper-thin science fiction through a horror filter. Apathetic alien creatures filled in for the masked serial killers, taking down our disparate and desperate crew of survivors, including one criminal sociopath, Riddick. It was simple, elegant, the dialogue was above par and had a measure of wit, there were some decent twists, and a theme, yes, an actual THEME, of redemption that ran through the film right to its bittersweet ending.
In short, I loved it.
“Pitch Black” was very successful.
The obligatory sequel that followed, “The Chronicles of Riddick” was not so much. It suffered from a bloated budget that allowed the imaginations to run beyond wild, and while the special effects were far-and-away better than “Pitch Black”, it seemed that the focus of the character had been lost by too much ret-conning, and a more grandiose Riddick-saves-the-universe plot.
Now, enter “Riddick”. The budget, necessarily, has been slashed. The dual conflict of internal group dynamics meeting an external alien menace might be dipping back into the well, but who cares. The simplicity of plot was what appealed, and the initial budget investment necessitated focus on characters rather than whiz-bang production values.
Plus, Katee Sackhoff, back in scifi where she belongs!