Get out your protective goggles and bone-blades, we're reviewing Riddick!
Oh, and you thought Chronicles of Riddick was the one you wanted to pretend never happened and leave out of canon?
Riddick is basically Pitch Black but not as original or fun or cool and way more gross and misogynistic.
It's not all bad. The monster designs are fairly decent and the CGI is pretty good. And Vin Diesel is Vin Diesel in a Riddick movie – and I'm pretty sure he makes a Fast & Furious reference, which is pretty great. And the first half an hour is pretty decent! It's Riddick struggling, living off the land, and playing with his adorable alien dog.
Riddick leaves the Necromongers in search of his home planet for… reasons? But his General (hey, look, it's Karl Urban in thick eyeliner for 5 seconds!) betrays him and maroons him on this random planet instead. And I guess because no one liked Riddick, literally no one in the universe thought to go looking for him. So Riddick spends his time wondering how he went so soft, hardening himself up and generally being a badass alone out in the alien wilderness for a while. And if that had been the whole movie, if it had been Castaway or Robinson Crusoe but with Riddick, and it was just him surviving by himself with his cute alien puppy and at the end he got on a spaceship and resolved to find his home and take back what's his – then it cuts to STAY TUNED FOR 'RIDDICK'S REVENGE!' – that would have been fine.
But then they remembered everyone said Pitch Black was better than Chronicles of Riddick and decided to remake that, only worse.
There are some spoilers beyond this point as I talk about the icky stuff, but if you just want to know the down and dirty, you can skip to the end. Basically, go back and watch Pitch Black or wait until it's out on Netlfix because it's not worth it. Even for Riddick. On to the ickiness and SPOILERS!
First of all, Riddick raises this space dog from a pup and it's adorbs and he's awesome and he's on par with the speedy big-mouth space dog from John Carter. But um, y'know how he's not in ANY of the trailers? Don't see him any of the parts with the bounty hunters, do you? Yeah, he doesn't make it.
Look, there are certainly instances where it's acceptable to kill an animal for story purposes and I don't want to say that killing animals should be completely off the table, but – Fuck you for killing the awesome space dog. Why did you need to do it, movie? To make Riddick even more of a badass loner? Not possible! Is it so that we can hate the guy who killed the dog? We already hate him! Plenty made us want him dead! What’s worse? Once the animal's dead, we don't see or hear anything about him, nor does Riddick bat a lash or grieve his loss at all! Or, if we did, Riddick was already too pissed off to show how pissed off he is.
And let's talk about That Guy Who Killed The Dog and why we already know he's a douche. Santana (Jordi Molla) is the leader of a rough group of bounty hunters. He's a capitol B, capitol G, Bad Guy. We know this because he has a woman chained up to casually rape. All of his crew (one of which is a priest?) are ok with this. Then he lets her go because he'll need the space for Riddick, and then shoots her in the back while she flees. Oh, and then he not-so-casually hits on and disrespects the one woman in the other group of bounty hunters, Dahl (Katie Sackhoff), and later tries to rape her. THIS FUCKIN' GUY. Like, okay movie, I know you want to set up a guy we can't wait for Riddick to kill later to prove how bad rapists are, but maybe not have a rapist in the first place??
And considering how many shitty things this guy does, you'd think there would be some huge boss fight catharsis that comes at the very end, but you see him get killed in the previews! It's in the middle of the movie, and no one cares about him 2 seconds after it happens! When Riddick kills Santana, you're not even sure why he did it anymore! All the bad stuff this guy did is rendered moot because he did so much bad stuff and none of it mattered.
But don't go thinking that Riddick is the moral beacon here, oh no. You see, Dahl (like “Doll” because what else are you going to call your only main female character, something not sexist??) is supposedly a lesbian, as she plainly tells Santana, "I DON'T FUCK GUYS." I say 'supposedly' because she never goes into detail other than that, and maybe she's lying just to get him off her back, or maybe she's asexual or some other sexual distinction, so who am I to judge, y'know? The point is: she doesn't fuck guys. Until Riddick, while chained up later, very explicitly lays out what's going to happen in the rest of the movie, which includes, "Going balls deep in her, but only after she asks, nice like." Exact words. He is going to fuck her straight. That is really, really gross. And it would be funny if she completely denied him and the great Riddick couldn't do something BUT THEN HE TOTALLY DOES. And it's not like there's any sexual tension or character development – nope, this guy just has mad game apparently. Guys, I'm not an acclaimed lesbianologist or anything but I'm pretty sure that's not how it works.
Seriously, what the hell, Riddick?? I'm pretty sure I don't remember him being a terrible misogynist to rival Duke Nukem in the other two movies or even the videogame. Why? Just why? It'd maybe be ok if he was any kind of flirty and maybe went for all genders like a super buff, bald John Barrowman, but why would you do this? Why even make her a lesbian in the first place? Just say she doesn't fuck assholes and it's only slightly bad! Also, to point out how much this movie is not great for women, there's a scene in the beginning with a bunch of full-on naked ladies on Riddick's bed, AND a gratuitous topless shot of Dahl in the bathroom for no reason while Riddick leers at her. I mean, I like boobs as much as the next straight male, but the ladies and gay men don't even get a topless Vin Diesel? To summarize this movie's view of women: sex objects, objects to be raped, women in refrigerators, and lesbians to be turned straight by manly men.
So I guess I can END SPOILERS HERE. Even without ALL OF THAT NOISE, the movie is still a mess. There's no real story, it's just Riddick doing stuff. He comes to the planet to find his home, then that's completely forgotten when he's surviving alone on the wasteland, then that's abandoned when he needs to get off the planet, then there's a whole side story about trusting a character related to someone from Pitch Black. At the end, you're left with this feeling of "what the fuck did I just go through, and why?" The action is okay, but nothing you haven't seen better in the previous two films and nothing worth slogging through all that shit above for. Really it's one solid half hour of Riddick with his space dog and you can walk out of the movie when the black clouds appear. Oof.
Also, a lot of the bad stuff that comes could be avoided if Riddick just straight-up told people what was coming instead of being cryptic as fuck, but whatever, movie.
THE GOOD: Some cool CGI and alien designs, sci-fi weapons, alien dog is great, Riddick learning how to badass again.
THE BAD: Story is a mess with no goal or theme or reason, basically the same story of Pitch Black, terrible towards women and animals, rape trigger warning.
THE VERDICT: $$ I really want to give it at least a three but UGH THIS SHIT IS SO RIDDICK-ULOUS WHY especially compared to the last two films which were really pretty good! Why did this have to happen? WHO’S RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?? Anyway, if you absolutely have to complete the Riddick trilogy, wait until it's streaming or on cable.
MOVIES LIKE IT: Pitch Black
ONE SCENE-METAPHOR: I can't remember what Santana says, but it makes Dahl punch him hard in the face and makes his nose bleed. This is the second time he does this. And after this, he tries to rape her. You'd think even a rapist would have the sense to know when you don't fuck with a woman. But this movie really wants to hit home how much sleaze he is. But you only needed to do it once! And for what? You see him get killed in the trailers! Why, movie, just why