Count how many times I call Riddick “Conan” in this article; it will be a fun little meta game for you. I loved Riddick for the same reason I love Conan stories, and hated the same parts of it I hate in those stories.
Overall, I quite enjoyed myself. The movie was a fun little action-adventure, cutting drastically close at times to the plot of Pitch Black, in what seemed like an obvious effort to avoid the supposed pitfalls of The Chronicles of Riddick. If you like Vin Diesel, you like action, and you enjoy sci-fi adventures, you’ll have a blast.
Digging a little deeper, my biggest issues were with the pacing, story, and the treatment of women and “innocents.”
“Riddick, the latest chapter of the groundbreaking saga that began with 2000’s hit sci-fi film Pitch Black and 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick, reunites writer/director David Twohy (A Perfect Getaway, The Fugitive) and star Vin Diesel (the Fast and Furious franchise, xXx). Diesel reprises his role as the antihero Riddick, a dangerous, escaped convict wanted by every bounty hunter in the known galaxy. The infamous Riddick has been left for dead on a sun-scorched planet that appears to be lifeless. Soon, however, he finds himself fighting for survival against alien predators more lethal than any human he’s encountered. The only way off is for Riddick to activate an emergency beacon and alert mercenaries who rapidly descend to the planet in search of their bounty. The first ship to arrive carries a new breed of merc, more lethal and violent, while the second is captained by a man whose pursuit of Riddick is more personal. With time running out and a storm on the horizon that no one could survive, his hunters won’t leave the planet without Riddick’s head as their trophy.”
Danger and Death
One of the hallmarks of an excellent story is that bad things happen to the characters everyone loves. This is part of why we’re all so addicted to Song of Ice and Fire. I won’t spoil the movie for you, but let’s just say that certain characters were protected from true harm in a predictable fashion, a protection that Pitch Black was never afraid to rip apart.
The pacing of the story seemed off as well, and the more I thought about it, it really seems like parts of the movie or story were cut out, but no one noticed that we had dangling plot threads. Riddick also seems more like two movies jammed together, or a montage that takes up half the movie. One story is the story of Riddick and his strength, and the other story is the game he decides to play with the bounty hunters.
Women as Badass Objects
There is a very strange and out of place shot of Katee Sackhoff’s boob. Like, the real boob. Nipple and all.
As for her character in general, I have really mixed feelings about her. On the one hand, she is a true warrior woman: tough, competent, respected by her supervisor and team, and she’s even a lesbian!
On the other hand, she wore a strange corset thing over her top, was constantly sexually assaulted, and was the butt of all sex jokes. Even Riddick treats her as a sex object, although one he seems to respect as a warrior. He says the most terrible line in the movie to her, as part of his ‘heroic’ prediction. It was incredible demeaning, especially given her established sexual preferences.
But Space Conan don’t care. Space Conan don’t give a f*@#!
Like Conan, Riddick’s character is the noble barbarian, standing outside of civilization and vowing to bring down its evil through sheer brutality. Along the way, he will take women and use them as objects to fulfill his barbarian needs, even if the woman is his equal with a sword…erm, I mean, futuristic gun. And the women gladly submit, because he is the epitome of masculinity, and no woman can resist that raw, sexual pull of the powerful conqueror.
Even if they don’t like men. >_>
So what I guess I’m trying to say is: I’m happy they had a female character and that she was a competent warrior, I’m disappointed that they still treated her like a sexual object, and that she reacted to abuse as if she was used to it.
Oh, also, she was never allowed to go out on missions. She had to stay and guard the base. Like Wheelie.
Finally, she and Diesel had no chemistry, though I blame that more on their limited interactions (they spoke maybe twice).
There were also surprising Keri Hilson and Karl Urban appearances!
Special Effects and Action
The special effects were great. The monsters and creatures of the planet looked very realistic, and I loved the stark look of the planet. The flying motorcycles were a nice touch for a super nerd like me.
The action was spectacular. Full of the brutality of an R-rated movie, thank goodness. As always, it’s just a pleasure to watch Diesel get physical.
Sci-Fi nerds and action lovers will enjoy the ride, as Riddick is full of both hold-your-breath and cheering moments. Women looking for another strong female action hero and anyone looking for a deep plot will be disappointed.
Conan (Riddick the Space Barbarian) lovers will be pleased.