Saturday, September 7, 2013

Movie Review: Riddick

What a divisive film Riddick is. On one hand it is much better than the misguided hot mess that was The Chronicles of Riddick, but on the other hand it is a horribly clunky 80’s style film and is still a far cry from the sleek thrills of Pitch Black.

You’ve got to hand it to director David Twohy – the only thing he has done in the past thirteen years is make Riddick films with Vin Diesel, so their dedication to the material deserves a hat tip. This is their Avatar. They’ve created a whole futuristic otherworldly universe, except with an antihero at the center. And they deserve even more praise because hardly anyone else in the world is making big budget hard R sci fi films, so the fact that Riddick is playing in theaters and is not terrible is a feat in itself.

The story picks up after the events of the second movie, but those who haven’t seen the previous film need not worry because of its sheer inconsequentiality. Riddick is now marooned on a planet full of creatures who want to eat him alive, and his only way out is to somehow activate a distress signal and get someone to pick him up. But seeing as he’s a wanted criminal a bunch of intergalactic bounty hunters descend upon his location to nab him and make some quick cash.

This is a plot that is incredibly reminiscent of the first film, and the movie seems almost like a reboot, which is where things start to tank. There is nothing else in the film apart from the singular danger of aliens emerging from the ground when it gets dark and the ship’s crew running around shooting things to deal with Riddick and get the hell out of there. This is a little frustrating because we’ve already seen this done in a much better fashion back in 2000, and that film even had the talented Radha Mitchell in the lead role.

What is really bizarre is the constant, blatant misogyny in this film – the lone female character played by Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackoff is a standard issue ‘hot’ soldier from 80’s Hollywood who is hit on by nearly everyone in the film in various disgusting ways. Why are there rape innuendos in a film where Vin Diesel has to kick alien ass? The woman even develops feelings for Riddick just because he is a hunky dude with fine ass ‘ceps. Does not compute.

Riddick works when it isn’t trying to be like the first film or isn’t dabbling in misogyny. The action is fun, and the raw gritty hard science fiction aspect of it is a nice change from flimsy fare like Oblivion. The creatures though limited in variety are quite imaginative, and there’s even an alien dog to give Riddick company. But that’s about it. 

(First published in MiD Day)

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