Friday, September 13, 2013

Riddick - The Movie Review

I blogged recently about female characters and how the article by Sophie McDougall really resonated with me, particularly in her analysis of how male characters get to run the full gamut of emotions, conflicts, and personalities where female characters can only be strong, if they aren’t there to be damsels in distress.

The 3rd movie in the Riddick chronicle fits this trope to the absolute ideal.

Katee Sackhoff gets to play to type, in this case she’s a tough crew member called Dahl, who “Doesn’t fuck men” and beats the shit out of the second string, whiney villain, not once but several times. She also shoots, fights, sneers, and has caustic one-liners.

I found myself curiously conflicted over this role. The straight, white, male, part of me was like, “Oh yeah! Katee Sackhoff, beautiful, strong, and awesomer!” The more rational part of me was disappointed, is this what Katee will always be playing? A stereotype of the butch lesbian character, who – wait for it – wavers in her lesbianism when she finally meets a real man…

Riddick can’t even take gay characters seriously. This is a film that clearly indicates that the rest of the male cast aren’t gay (Hell no!) by such charming things as having a thin woman kept prisoner and raped repeatedly (‘cos these bounty hunters are really bad guys!). This poor woman didn’t even get a name, she was simply referred to by her weight.

Riddick who is meant to be the good guy in this whole thing, made several references to Dahl, all around how later he was going to be “balls deep in her" because she asked him to. He also watched her wash, commented on her nipple colour (which was odd because Riddick doesn't see colours, he sees everything in a high-contrast lavender tone).

When he made his comment about fucking Dahl, I found myself trying to remember when in the preceding 80 minutes she had actually said, “Riddick, I want you balls deep in me.”

Six characters appeared naked in this movie. Riddick appeared naked, but mostly in silhouette and at a great distance (Damaris is sure it was a body double) but it could have been CGI. There were also the four naked female concubines begging for Riddick to come back to bed. Dahl on the other hand, we got to watch taking a sponge bath (Katee Sackhoff has surprisingly non-Hollywood i.e. normal, breasts). By comparison, the concubines definitely had Hollywood breasts. The perfectly sculpted round ones that look like they could have been CGI’ed too.

The third film in the trilogy also lacked something the two predecessors had, well defined female characters with a reason for being an integral part of the story. Pitch Black had the ship’s captain, Carolyn Frye, and the supporting cast including Shazza and Jack/Jackie.

The Chronicles of Riddick had Aereon, Dame Vaako and Jackie (now Kyra) all with their own agendas. Riddick had Katee Sackhoff lesbian-until-the-right-guy-comes-along.

In spite of all this really cringe inducing crap, David Twohy made a movie that is a good fit for the target demographic. The plot was Pitch Black v2.0 where instead of darkness unleashing a swarm of predators – it was another relatively normal environmental factor that turned the bounty hunter’s attention from Riddick to the predatory indigenous life forms. The similarities continued right down to the same building as the first film, a similar landscape and same over-exposed lighting…

The action and superhero status of Riddick was extended and as a Universe, Riddick’s depiction of space being a cold, dirty, and dangerous place rings true – much like the Alien universe, except dustier.

On the most basic level (white, male, sci-fi fan) I enjoyed this movie. I had to put aside a lot of my irritants and just accept that it for what it was. A popcorn movie aimed at teenage boys.

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

It's as dumb as you can get, but it's still a bunch of fun and I think that's all that matters with something as cheesy as this. Good review Paul.