Shitty Movie Sundays: Riddick

RiddickI was really hoping this movie would have been appropriate for the October Horrorshow. Alas, it was not. Sure, there is some exotic, overly aggressive wildlife to be found, and they do devour a good amount of the cast, but this movie is more a straight action flick than anything else. Too bad. I was looking forward to featuring this review right after Pitch Black. Well, at least it’s shitty!

Riddick, of course, is the second sequel to Pitch Black, featuring the eponymous character played by Vin Diesel. In this flick, Riddick has abandoned the burdens of galactic leadership and returned to his animal nature, a sly acknowledgment by writer/director David Twohy that the second movie in the series, The Chronicles of Riddick, was a stupidly overwrought idea that never should have been put to film. Riddick isn’t a fucking politician. He’s a badass. No one wants to see him speechifying or fending off the knives of palace assassins. The world, this world, needs Riddick to get in gunfights with mercenaries and fight creatures with big pointy teeth. Message received.

The film spends a little time at the beginning wrapping up the story from the previous film, and providing an explanation for why Riddick finds himself stranded on a lonely planet surrounded by nasty beasties. Riddick, being Riddick, wastes little time in becoming the most dangerous thing on the planet, but then, faced with a little rain that could bring about a shit-ton of monsters, decides that right then is a good time to bug out. It was that, or he was just bored with being such a badass, but with no one around to witness it.

Either way, Riddick activates a conveniently placed distress signal, and all of a sudden the planet is overrun with bounty hunters looking to literally put his head in a box.

But this is Riddick, man! Nothing can stop him. Not monsters, not guns, and certainly not Dave Bautista (he’s the HUGE guy with the tattoos; and yes, he used to be a professional wrestler in real life).

This entire movie is Riddick killing things and speaking in macho solipsisms or proclamations of his own badassery. This is a man who would be great to meet once in a bar, but his act would wear thin pretty quickly. Of course, I can see how a person’s ego could be built up by being so good at killing things, ruling the galaxy, laying concubines four at a time, and misogyny. Oh, did I forget to mention? This movie hates women. Absolutely loathes them. The first one we meet after the intro is a bound prisoner who, apparently, has been subjected to many rapes off camera. The only other woman after that is Dahl (Katee Sackhoff), a butch bounty hunter who, I can only guess, is a lesbian because it appears every man in the Riddick universe is the last person any self-respecting woman would actually want to fuck. Even Riddick, the anti-hero of the film, makes sleazy passes at Dahl. Hollywood, I thought we were better than this.

But wait, it gets worse. Remember the poor rape victim? Her attacker is the leader of the scruffy-looking group of bounty hunters (not to be confused with the clean-shaven group). I hate to have to keep writing about this, but I am sick of the rapist being a character archetype in shitty movies. Where do these people even exist? In some perverse way, they seem to celebrate man’s inability to go five seconds without potentially turning into a predator. They are the worst possible roles an actor can take, and it mystifies me that anyone would accept them. At least in Riddick the dirty rapist wasn’t played by Richard Brake.

So, does the sleaziness spoil the movie? No. The movie does that all on its own. Riddick is a rotten mess. It really is. Pitch Black walked a fine line between usefulness and uselessness, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Twohy himself was caught off guard by how well it worked. He tried his best to recapture the elements that made Pitch Black successful, and wisely ditched just about everything associated with Chronicles, but it doesn’t work. It’s an inconsistent film that never figures out where the danger lies (Riddick, monsters, bounty hunters), and thusly, has no clear protagonist or antagonist. That’s right. There is justification in rooting for every group in this one to come out ahead. Or better yet, just kill each other all off and lay this franchise to bed.

This is a rare one, but Riddick and Alien: Resurrection are equally bad. It’s a tie, because at times they’re basically the same movie. But both are vastly better than The Chronicles of Riddick. That movie sucked. Now, Hollywood, get on that Aliens vs. Riddick project. And no more rapists, please.

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