Some people will probably find this unbelievable, but I was disappointed by Riddick, the third in the Richard B. Riddick series.
Did Diesel and Twohy realise that Riddick was going to be such a badass when they named him Richard B. Riddick? It makes him sound like a cartoon character.
There are spoilers below, if you care.
I was disappointed to be disappointed, because I really like the first two films. I am so not the target audience of Pitch Black; I do not like horror, I do not tend to like creature features, I do not enjoy being scared. But Pitch Black… well, it has Claudia Black and Radha Mitchell, which helps. The planet and its creepy inhabitants are just so crazy that I liked them, and I found the interaction between the different sorts of characters – the scared, competent pilot; the wine snob; the drug-addicted cop; the imam; and the Riddick – quite enthralling. As for Chronicles of Riddick, I’m only a little embarrassed to say that I love this insane b-grade dystopic over-the-top sf action film. Hell, it has Karl Urban in awesome makeup, and it has mad sets, and Crematoria is spectacularly nuts as a planet. So going into Riddick, I thought – well, how bad can it be? From the ads it was clear they were taking the franchise back to the Pitch Black model, which is fine; I was expecting some equivalent fight scenes against humans and weird aliens, some snappy dialogue, maybe a plot. Also Katee Sackhoff!!
There were some entertaining bits, I’ll admit. That Riddick is now so notorious that mercenaries know his name, and the smart ones know to be terrified, allowed for some pretty amusing scenes. The aliens were indeed as weird and unlikely as I expected. There was a brief shot of Karl Urban in his eyeliner. Sackhoff (whose character is Dahl, which is a very unfortunate name) is kickass with a sniper’s rifle. That one of the mercenaries was actually there in order to get information about the drugged-up Johns from Pitch Black gave it something of a Die Hard 3 feel, which I really liked, and meant that it did actually tie into both parts of Riddick’s past. I was intrigued by the back-to-basics appearance of the film, back to the first appearance of Riddick; it seems to suggest that Riddick makes more sense in a mostly-fighting-animals world, rather than even pretending to fit in, or interact, with humanity like in the second. And that’s an idea worth exploring.
Oh, but. The first third or so of the film is basically Riddick-as-Robinson Crusoe, which was weird. Especially the bit where he domesticates a canine because… does that kind of make the dog a replacement for Jack/Kyra? Also, Riddick with a dog? That he feeds and cares for? ?!?!? That was all a bit odd. And then the movie proceeds to the fighting-the-mercenaries bit, which is where the vague plot actually starts. And Dahl arrives. In a very tight outfit, with belts and straps that emphasise her bust even more. And half the time when the dialogue involved her, it was someone being sleazy. Even Riddick himself gets in on it, which shocked me enormously. The merc on the other team – fine, I understand, he’s a douche; that’s been established already, he doesn’t like a woman being in authority over him, and she can deal with him. It’s not nice, but the writers seem to think that that helps to establish him as being Super Bad. However, I honestly don’t remember Riddick being sleazy or misogynist in the other films. Did I miss something? He’s totally big-brother to Jack/Kyra – actually, not even that to Jack, he’s completely dispassionate. Maybe there’s a moment of maybe-electricity with the pilot, Fry, but no suggestion that they make out, as far as I recall. The comment that Riddick makes towards Dahl is just so crude that I was disgusted. Over at The Mary Sue, the argument is that Dahl – established as lesbian early on, in a moment that impressed me – uses her last line as a come-on to Riddick. I actually didn’t read it this way; for me, it seemed to reflect the situation they were in (a very intimate embrace on a rope hanging from a plane). Maybe I’m just in denial.
I am glad I did not pay to see this, but got to see it at a friend’s house. That said, Diesel has just announced the fourth movie… which makes my prediction of Riddick: the Search for Furya (based on the final 60 secs of this film) all the more likely. If they can get Karl Urban back into his eyeliner, I probably will go and see it. Because I am weak like that.