Vin Diesel is living out every stereotypical nerds dream. Most people know by now that he loves roleplaying. No, not just acting in a movie, but pen, paper, and dice. Heck, he wrote the forward to a book celebrating 30 years of Dungeons & Dragons. So the Riddick character is basically living out his childhood fantasies, with him as the star, and kicking major butt the entire time.
The movie Riddick, follows Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, while switching genres once again. The first film was Sci-Fi Horror, the second film was Sci-Fi Action Adventure, and this new film is Sci-Fi Action Thriller. Basically a cross breed.
This third project was over nine years in the making, and has gone through financial woes and rewrite after rewrite. Diesel had to put up millions of his own money just to keep filming when the cash ran out and also leveraged his own house. Let’s just say, he really loves the Riddick character, and is willing to put all of his eggs in one basket.
“Take these shackles off my feet so I can dance.“
Another day, another fight for survival.
Riddick (Diesel) finds himself trapped again on a desolate and unforgiving planet, stranded and alone. Left for dead, the Necromongers betrayed their new leader after the events of the second film, and Riddick has no idea how he is going to get off the world. He soon learns to adapt on this new planet, figuring out the meanest creatures and their weaknesses, while also taking in a pet of his own.
But a storm is on the horizon. A literal storm, I mean. It is slow moving, but the water appears to awaken a force buried in the ground, one that he cannot survive on his own.
So he decides to lay a trap. He lets the universe know where he is hiding, so he can ambush the crew and take a ship before it is too late. However, two bounty ships appear, both with very different motives behind them. One ship is lead by Santana (Jordi Molla) with six men (including Dave Bautista), looking for the bounty. The other crew is lead by Johns (Matt Nable) and second in command Dahl (Katee Sackoff), and they are looking for answers.
Dude. Who gave him a cape?
The Riddick movie has two main acts associated with it. The first is his survival on a new planet, with little dialogue (but some voice over). It moves at a slow pace to really make us feel for his character. The second act introduces a variety of characters who bring with them guns, dialogue, and opposite motives for capturing Riddick.
Although the film attempts to give a few of them personalities, the only two bounty hunters who end up standing out are the leaders from both sides. I did get some chuckles out of Bautista, but I knew that was his sole purpose in the film.
I’d say I liked the first half a lot more than the second half. They took their time with combat and death felt like it was actually possible. The action became choppier and less scary when they introduce darkness and guns. Strange, I know. They probably had to rush filming the ending, along with the budget concerns, so that must be to blame.
On its own, I found the movie possibly more entertaining than the other two films in the franchise, but there is one drastic problem with it that cannot be overlooked, and something I don’t think I have harped on before.
Riddick has so much rampant sexism in it, that I almost got sick during the actual movie. That’s right, the excessive gore didn’t sicken me, just the Riddick-ulous amount of sexism.
There is only one woman character in the film who is given a name, and her name is Dahl. You might have realized on your own that it is pronounced just like Doll. I’d say over 90% of the lines said by her, or said to her, are sexual in nature. Literally, the character exists merely as a sex object. Sure, she is able to hold her own in combat, but she is also the only character to be given a small (and surprising) shower scene. With only one topic coming out of her mouth, it is hard to take any part of her role in the film seriously.
Her character also is a lesbian, because that is apparently the only reason she would be a mercenary and always talk about sex. However, it turns out her sexual orientation is no match for Riddick’s charm (And hornyness after being on a planet alone for a few years). Who does Vin Diesel think he is, Ben Affleck? (Affleck “turned a lesbian straight” in two films, Chasing Amy and Gigli).
I think if her character was more than some strange sexual fantasy, this movie could have been a lot better. The “brown filter” I thought would annoy me, but I was able to get over it. The not so amazing CGI I thought would annoy me, but I got over it. The rushed second half and treatment of women I really just can’t forgive or ignore.
2 out of 4.