David Twohy's direction is incredible in Riddick, a tense and surprisingly entertaining adventure that sees the title hero abandoned on a sun scorched planet after being betrayed by his own kind, and is forced to seek a path of vengeance whilst surviving the deadly nature of the planet. I've never seen Pitch Black or The Chronicles of Riddick, so watching this I had no idea who is who, or if anything in this feature links back to the previous films, but as a standalone film and a newcomer, Riddick is brilliant.
I love Twohy's style and direction, he keeps the action and events tight and under control. Suspense is built masterful as the character find themselves regularly caught up in the face of danger. There is a strong use of silence and a steady reliance of extreme close ups, uncertainty creeps in regularly. The sound design is so sharp and rich, especially during opening when Riddick is dealing with his injuries, the sound of skin and flesh tearing and surfaces rubbing together has an immediate effect on you of disgust and pain.
You spend a lot of the film with the mercenaries sent to scout out Riddick's location, and luckily not a single one of these characters are annoying or unlikeable. They each have goals and mysterious motives, through this the conflicts and authority issues set off some heated fights and it's all building up to the final battle between Riddick and the planet's forces. The cast performances are great, Vin Diesel is tough as nails and very witty, only he could pull off a hero like Riddick without resorting to cheesiness. Katee Sackhoff is sassy and seriously sexy, a great performance there as well as Jordi Molla who delivers some chuckles as a complete asshole.
For a $38,000,000 budget Riddick looks great, I thought the visuals and landscape effects were really good, and could easily compete with bigger budgeted sci-fi's of the past few years, the alien effects are outstanding and the sound design of them slithering and snapping really makes you quiver. The water-dwelling monsters are a neat idea, they hiss and watch their prey waiting to attack, and when Riddick faces these horrid creatures it's like a Western standoff. In my opinion, Riddick is more of a survival thriller that just happens to be set on an otherworldly hostile planet. Diesel is great fun to watch as always, I can't to see him in Fast 8, he is completely different here compared to Dom Toretto, the character I'm most familiar with him playing. Would I watch this again? Well despite some questionable dialogue, Riddick took me by surprise, it thrilled me and packed some proper solid action sequences and a lot of tense moments.