In ‘Pitch Black’ the cinematic world was introduced to an evil character who didn’t lie and didn’t hurt anyone who wasn’t trying to kill him. He was, however, very adept at killing when it was needed. He was also a man who deeply respected survival instinct and survival skills. The movie had all the basic hallmarks of a horror genre; monsters, a young and uncertain woman, etc. It had one significant twist; the woman didn’t survive, the “villain” did. The “criminal” got off the planet with a holy man and a young girl.
The cartoon that followed only stressed his reputation as a killer, his protective nature, and his honesty.
In ‘Chronicles of Riddick’, the scope of the story expanded. Early on the holy man from the first movie summons him to a planet about to be conquered by religious zealots known as Necromongers. En route, he has a vision that his destiny is to get even with the people who annihilated his race, the same militant sect. During the course of events that follows Riddick kills their leader and replaces him.
And that is where the mistake was made. To take a loner and make him the leader of an empire is to take his strength away, his attraction for us as a hero who takes his own path uncaring of what the rest of the universe does. It was also a dead end for the character. What could Riddick possibly do in the next movie that would be interesting? Kill challengers for leadership? Boring. And as a leader he could hardly be involved in the hand-to-hand fighting that occurs during planetary conquests. How could this unique character even consider continuing the Necromonger destruction of worlds? So he could stop them? Possibly. But how could that be done within the Darwinian mindset of the character?
So, the character had to start over. He had to be separated from the Necromongers, which meant he needed to be somehow ostracized and humiliated from his position as their leader. That done, all of his key traits had to be reestablished; an Alpha male who is honest, has respect for survival instincts, and is a brilliant killer.
Seen in that light the new movie, ‘Riddick’, takes on a new perspective. It is functional. The story is interesting, even if the viewer can’t wait for Riddick to get off planet (which he never does). It does reinvest the character with his core qualities. The plot even allows for Riddick to have some closure about the one loose end of the first two movies, the Johns character. I didn’t like the movie, but I understood it. I hope the next installment in the series is better now that the major flaws are out of the way.