The story includes Dune-like intricacies (prophecy, conflicting character motives, foreshadow, plots within plots, weakness, multiple heroes, patience, questionable morality, rituals, inner challenges, sacrifice, etc.) but without the extended, drawn-out politics to slow the story. It is fast paced and entertaining along with the important issues and messages. The art in this film is breathtaking including the rocky fins and caves of the ice planet, the Necromonger ship; the sparkling seas, sands, and architecture of Helion Prime; and the brutal beauty of the jagged, glassy, and blistering Crematoria. The DVD version really showcases the artistic elements of this movie.
The film has a Conan flavor with the non-traditional and non-innocent hero doing the right thing instead of the easy thing, and getting involved though he doesn't have to. The superhero (and regular hero) qualities of the Riddick character are also a nice addition to the story: speed, protection of the weak, strength, ease of killing, frequent flying through the air during attacks/escapes, quick thinking, resistance to Necromonger mental intrusion, enhanced eyes for night vision (Achilles heel being light sensitivity), precision, gracefulness despite bulk, piloting skills, use of varied weaponry, respect for life, risk taking, etc. The combination of weaponry is also interesting - unique craftsmanship blades mixed with Sci-Fi technology weapons. However, the violence in this film is very tasteful, similar to the Zatoichi movies, where our hero is able to kill without a lot of blood and gore. There is also a similarity to Kurosawa stories as well, specifically Yojimbo and Sanjuro regarding the flawed hero and the motives of the characters.
The acting is first-rate. All of the actors did a fine job, but Vin Diesel's performance is truly exceptional. I had no idea he was so incredibly talented. (I always thought he was mainly an "eye candy" actor. Not so.) He is amazingly expressive throughout the movie without the use of his eyes at all. (They are surgically enhanced with no pupils and covered with goggles part of the time.) And his voice, diction, and inflection are obviously a product of natural talent, serious training, and careful attention to his craft. I now have a new appreciation for the quality of his work.
I would rank this film right up there with some of the greatest Sci-Fi movies of all time including Metropolis, Blade Runner, and Forbidden Planet; and the story itself merits comparison to classic Sci-Fi books such as the Robot novels, Dune, The Chronicles of Amber, and the Foundation series. I recommend people watch this film and judge its merits for themselves. I don't think the critics of this movie watched it very carefully.
J.H. Sweet, author of The Fairy Chronicles
Twohy has introduced a remarkable universe and an intriguingly simple, yet complex character in Riddick. This is a character that you can see Vin Diesel really put his heart into. I cannot wait to see how this character evolves, as well as seeing more of this universe, not to mention the infamous Underverse, as well as more on the Furyans. I've heard that Universal will base their decision to continue with a sequel depending on the sales of the unrated director's cut. This movie, like its predecessor Pitch Black is destined to become a cult hit. I only hope the studio realizes this sooner rather than later. I would give this movie 5 stars, but I have to leave some leeway for them on the sequel (fingers crossed).