I realize many Riddick fans will disagree with my review, and that's OK. We all have different movies we like and dislike. I just ask that you read my reasons behind my thoughts and consider the point of view I'm coming from. Note there are spoilers in this write-up.
First, I adore the Riddick series up to the final movie, Riddick. I've seen Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick many, many times. I love Vin Diesel and his alpha-male character. In Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, his relationship with Kyra, the subtlety of the situation, was great. There were so many aspects of these movies that shone. The sense of man-against-the-world. The nuances of the cultures. Judi Densch was super as Aereon, the neutral entity. Karl Urban as Vaako and Thandie Newton as his conniving wife were great. There were so many characters in here which filled out the environment. The special effects were cool. It was immensely satisfying to watch.
So I went into this third version of Riddick with great anticipation.
The plot is pared down. That's fine. I loved the first Pitch Black and that had a fairly simple plot. In fact, it was pretty much this plot. Riddick on a planet. Mercenaries out to grab him. Riddick takes them all on. Beasties. Riddick wins.
Where the first two movies had superb writing and everything that happened cohesively made sense, many aspects of this one felt as if the writers took shortcuts and didn't bother to map out an overall scenario. Why would the bad guys drop Riddick on a planet which had a fully stocked mercenary base on it? Surely they knew the reputation of this guy. I know they intended to kill him - but still, you plan for all eventualities. Surely you drop him on a completely abandoned planet with NO chance of getting off. Why would the mercenaries build a base on this planet covered with death-creatures and not leave a large warning in the base to let people know this happens occasionally? You can't tell me with all their sci-fi scanning devices that they didn't notice the bodies beneath the sand. That's what mercenaries excel at - finding hiding bodies. There's situation after situation like this. The writers could easily have made minor tweaks so all of this made sense, but they didn't bother.
I do love many of the special effects in this. The puppy was quite real feeling and had expressive body language. The creatures were appropriately threatening. But in other cases the sets felt cheezy. It was clearly them standing on a stage and not a real planet. Again, just a little bit more effort would have eliminated this problem.
But the real issue - the one that has me just shaking my head in disbelief - has to do with the women in this.
Again, I realize this is a fantasy. But look at the first two movies! Kyra was amazing. Aereon was great. Dame Vaako was great! These were fantasy women with grit and strength. They had to be, to live in this world. They helped Riddick then become even stronger, as he dealt with and interacted with these women.
So, what do we have in this latest incarnation of Riddick?
Women group 1: Four totally naked slave consorts that Riddick Fs every chance he can get. They were slaves ripped from their homeworld, forced against their will to become whores. Riddick doesn't care. He Fs them as much as he can until he gets taken away.
Woman 2: Captured woman who is repeaetedly Fed by the "bad" mercenary group. She's shaking and traumatized by her ordeal. So she's released and shot in the back. The lead merc says he was getting too fond of her so he decided to kill her. I realize this is a way of showing these mercs are bad, but still. Repeatedly raped, traumatized woman forced to be a whore. Isn't this what we had in group 1 where Riddick was the culprit?
Woman 3: Starbuck!! I adore Battlestar Galactica and Katee Sackhoff. I was just so thrilled that she was in this movie as Dahl. And then my joy turned to frustration. What is Katee's role in this? To be someone every other guy wants to F. We get a view of her naked breast and Riddick comments on her nipple color. Bad merc tries to rape her. Riddick boasts that by the end of the battle she'll beg him to F her, even though she turns away all the other men. Sure enough, at the end, she asks him to F her, and one of the last lines is about Riddick wanting her to keep her "box" warm for him. So he can F her some more.
And that's it.
Good God Almighty. That's the fantasy version of women? Whores that want it, whores that are raped, and tough women who resist other guys but the hero is so studly that she gives in and begs him for sex?
It's not that the Riddick series has always been like this. The first two movies were great! Where in the world did this mentality come in? And even more concerning to me, why do so many viewers not even blink an eye that this is how women are shown? Do they think it normal that women are either whores, rape victims, or women who secretly crave a tough guy to take them? You could say that at least Katee fought off her rapist. Great. But there's still the very clear statement here, in pretty much every scene, that she is there for sex. Every guy just wants to F her, and eventually the hero will break her down and make her beg for it. That's her purpose in life, to be Fed.
She's a superb fighter, a great sniper, and has many other strengths - but the attention she gets is solely about a guy stripping her naked and using her.
Is this really the level our fantasy movies have sunk to? That women are solely sex dolls to be grabbed, used, and discarded? Maybe killed if they get in the way?
Conan had Valeria, a tough-as-nails fighter who matched him. Madmartigan had Sorsha, amazing with a sword. Riddick has ... slave whores? And a "warm box"?
This is a fantasy world men or women want? Why not fantasize about living on a planet with cyborg sex dolls?
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