First, a disclaimer: I'm one of The Chronicles of Riddick's few defenders. No, scratch that: I'm pretty sure I'm its biggest advocate. It's simultaneously good and so-bad-it's-good for entirely different reasons. You laugh at it and cheer it on at the same time: it's like getting two completely different, equally satisfying movie experiences for the price of one. It... out Fifth Elements the Fifth Element. It....
Sorry. I'm supposed to be talking about Riddick.
Well, this one - the third in the series - is pretty great, too. It's ostensibly more Pitch Black than Chronicles, but I was happy to see some elements from part two survive. This one might not contain any blatant fantasy, but there's a vein of barbarianism that runs to its core. I've seen it compared to Conan in more than one spot, and the parallels are easy to see. Unfortunately, there aren't any D&D characters running around, but the pulp sensibilities remain intact.
Like Pitch Black, this one is fairly disjointed. While part one was split neatly between day and night segments, this one was broken into thirds. They almost felt like episodes in a serial. The first third is the best, though I enjoyed the entire movie. The very ending felt a little anti-climatic, though I remember thinking the same thing about Pitch Black (Chronicles of Riddick, on the other hand, had one of the best endings I've ever seen).
There's not much to the characters or plot, but I don't see that as a negative. With the possible exception of Pitch Black, these are more about the imagery and a visceral sense of strength. Is that juvenile? Of course, but there's nothing wrong with that.
I'd love to spend more time in this universe, especially if we could explore more of what the second movie touched on. I don't know how likely that really is, but it's more than a little surprising we got this one after Chronicles bombed.
It might not be the best in the series, but it's a worthy addition and a hell of a lot of fun. If you're in the mood for an enjoyable dark SF flick this weekend, check it out. Just make sure you bring your inner 12 year-old with you - unlike its PG-13 rated predecessor, they won't be able to see it without an adult present.