There is a blight on this region of the universe, and they are the Necromongers who travel the galaxy painfully converting anyone in their way to their religion. And if you don't wish to be converted, you will die at their hand, often whole planets will be devastated when they stand up to the faith of the evildoers, and they are only growing more powerful as their fleets of spaceships plague the stars. Meanwhile, on one freezing planet the criminal Riddick (Vin Diesel) is fleeing a craft of bounty hunters for he has a very large price on his head, though he manages to outwit their leader, Toombs (Nick Chinlund) and steal the craft for himself...
He has a date with destiny, or a date with Keith David at any rate, because he was in the first Riddick movie too and there some loose ends to tie up in this, the follow-up to the sleeper hit Pitch Black. In the meantime, Diesel had become a fairly big star and was keen to return to the character who had made his name, so he and director David Twohy conjured up something different for him, an epic space opera where he would be the star. Some described this as The Lord of the Rings to the initial outing's The Hobbit, although once many had seen it the rather more unfortunate mockery of a retitling The Ridicules of Chronic was regarded as a more apt summation.
You couldn't fault their ambition for the character, the central theme being fight fire with fire as the evil Riddick is recruited to battle the forces of the Fish- sorry, Necromongers, the greater of two evils as it turns out, though no matter how many people the antihero bumps off he remains entirely laudable in the movie's eyes. What this actually came across as was less a sequel in the same vein as the previous instalment, and more a realisation of fan fiction, only fanfic penned by the actual creators of the original work, which brought a lot of jargon, funny names for people and places, and some rather unconcious silliness, with Mr Diesel taking a sniff of Thandie Newton at one point then observing "It's been a long time since I smelled beautiful!"
I think we've all been there, Riddick. Anyway, in this jumble of lavish sets, costumes and CGI we were expected to fathom some plotline or other, though let your concentration lapse for a minute whether through ennui or simply allowing the mind to wander (very easy to do with this) then you would likely find the movie blethering away happily to itself in its own little - well, quite big actually - world and not making many moves to reach out and give you a solid reason to follow it. Riddick hops from planet to planet, with the bounty hunters chasing him down and the Necromongers determined to catch him since their leader, Lord Marshal (Colm Feore), has heard a prophecy that our man will prove his undoing some day, so obviously incapacitating him sounds sensible.
It was telling that for the next movie in the franchise Riddick went back to basics, because the sense of a project falling victim to its own attempts to go as vast as possible was all too palpable here. One sweet aspect was that Diesel managed to persuade his favourite actress, Judi Dench, to appear in this as an Elemental, which means she flits about the screen in a puff of computery smoke, but doesn't make it entirely clear what her purpose was other than to offer the leading man a boost knowing his heroine was in his movie. Elsewhere, Thandie Newton and Karl Urban were the power couple planning to usurp the Lord by manipulating Riddick, and Alexa Davalos was the recast Kyra, the teenage girl from the first one, now fallen in with a bad crowd. With Twohy more interested in the back of his star's head than the front for some reason, and Diesel whipping off his goggles every ten seconds, if you could get past the overblown eccentricity (or embrace it) then you might be engrossed up to a point, and Diesel remained a decent tough guy presence. It's on TV every week, anyway. Music by Graeme Revell.