I should perhaps preface this review by saying I'm not just spouting off about a "boy's movie" because I don't understand the complexity of the Riddick franchise. I've read similar dismissive comments on other reviews and it kind of boggles the mind that this sort of backwards logic is still applied. There is no such thing as a "boy's movie" and a "girl's movie". Let that weird gendered bias go. I loved Pitch Black. It was a fantastic, tightly-wound surprise of an action flick. And though The Chronicles of Riddick really wasn't good, I also enjoyed it. I mean let's be honest, I love me some Karl Urban in eyeliner. And it had moments of visual brilliance, too. So I went into Riddick fully prepped with back story and prepared to enjoy myself. This review is a reaction to the actual story and film I saw, nothing more and nothing less. If it's a spade, call it one.
Riddick is what would happen if you took Pitch Black and stripped it of whatever made it compelling and then took Aliens but none of the strong characters or gripping narrative or arresting visuals, so basically just the aliens, and then forced those two poor imitation films to mate and the offspring emerged with only the worst qualities of each parent and then was dressed entirely in misogyny. I’m being perhaps too kind. I don’t want to give you the impression that Riddick is in any way a good film because it isn’t. It’s absolute crap.
It’s impossible to talk about anything before addressing the misogyny because it’s more or less the backbone of the film. There are a total of six women in the film. Six. Four appear in the first fifteen minutes, in flashback only. They are all naked and have two lines between them, one of which is “Come back to bed”. The fifth appears bound and beaten in a mercenary ship. It is made plain that she has been a sex slave for the abhorrent mercenary leader. She is immediately freed so she can be shot in the back as she’s running away. And the sixth is Katee Sackhoff. Her character has a name: Dahl. That’s so every other character, who is male, can say “Hey Doll, watch the ship” and “Your nailpolish matches your nipples, Doll” and crap like that. She is tough in that she can kick a man’s ass and win. But according to the script she is only allowed to display such strength after a man attacks her. The first mercenary leader tries to rape her and she puts him in his place. He continually leers at her and harasses her, forcing her to defend herself. When Riddick is finally imprisoned in the mercenary camp, he tells Dahl he will be “balls deep" in her as soon as he’s unchained. Dahl’s only real purpose is to be harassed, is to be the recipient of vile sexual attacks and lewd comments; she is used in the mistaken purpose that belittling a woman makes a man more manly and that women can be tough only insofar as it relates to a man. This rampant misogyny is the worst of Riddick’s faults.
Don’t suppose that misogyny is the only fault, though. That would be silly! Riddick is basically a poor copy of it’s own predecessor, Pitch Black. The plot, such as it is, runs roughly the same course. Except there is an additional excessive reliance on CGI in Riddick. Stereotypes abound. The dialogue isn’t exactly crackling with originality. And worst of all, it’s dull. It’s predictable and sort of draggy. Let me find something positive: sometimes the characters say witty things that make you laugh and it’s a relief. Vin Diesel’s arms are very nice to look at. Oh - and Karl Urban has a cameo as the deliciously yummy Vaako.
I don’t recommend Riddick at all. To anyone. It’s an insulting dullard of a movie. If I were to write an equivalent movie in reverse, it would feature Vin Diesel amongst a bunch of women. And the women would all strut around and shoot things and call Vin Diesel ‘Dick’. “Hey Dick, reach that grenade launcher off the top shelf” and “Hey Dick, your axe is the same color as your dick” and then CGI animals would swarm the ship and Vin Diesel would paint his nails in the shower. The End.
- Corinne Simpson