When the third installment of the Chronicles of Riddick (following the movie of the same name, which itself followed Pitch Black, both of which I rather enjoyed, in different ways) was announced, I remember being excited: here was a sequel I’d really wanted to see, but almost didn’t get made, as I might have been one of the only ones who enjoyed CoR. In fact, I rather enjoyed Riddick at the cinema – so I wasn’t really expecting to loathe large swathes of it on a TV repeat viewing.
The first disappointment is how Riddick follows on from its predecessor – we’d last left Richard B. suddenly in charge of his enemies, the weird but intriguing Necromancers; a situation with no end of possibility. But no: let’s just sweep all that aside in a somewhat clunky opening. Bah.
What follows is a movie of two halves. First, Riddick must claw for survival, abandoned as he is on a hostile planet inhabited by nasty critters. Again, there’s some scope here, but in the re-viewing, all I could see was the ridiculousness of the hugely over the top ‘manly’ posing (including silhouetted in the buff, on top of a rock, for no good reason!) and completely unfeasible overcoming of terrible injuries. Oh yeah – and the cartoon dog. It’s not meant to be, but…
Eventually we get some other cast members, and it is vaguely amusing to see the role call of big burly blokes, and laugh that they were in this before more recent roles: e.g. Dave Bautista, pre-Guardians of the Galaxy, or Matt Nable, more recognisable now as Ra’s Al Ghul from Arrow (if you’re me, and watch these shows, of course!). Less impressive, however, is our sole female character.
What amazes me is how little of the really, REALLY dire, misogynistic treatment of the character of Dahl (pronounced ‘doll’, of course!), both by the other characters and just generally how the role is used, went largely unnoticed by me when I saw this at the cinema. On repeat viewing, it was not only obviously but so distractingly cringe-worthy that I could no longer enjoy the mindless action or scenery, which will usually get me to forgive a lot in a popcorn movie.
Played by the usually wonderful Katee Sackhoff, Dahl isn’t just abused for being a woman in a man’s world – urgh, but she does kick ass in return! – but it’s the way she morphs into a bit of a girly purely through apparent awe of Riddick’s character. She’s in the script, it seems, to be threatened, ogled, and set as the ‘prize’ for the biggest, baddest man. What the hell?!!
As I say, I’m amazed and appalled that I didn’t see this on first viewing (others did; I think I thought them oversensitive at the time). But even aside from that, even the action and scenery was really spoiled by the constant posing and (even within genre) unrealistic physical showing off, matching the arrogance and increasingly unpleasant smugness of the lead character.
Overall: hard to see now as anything other than a Vin Diesel vanity piece, and I’m actually disappointed.
Released: 4th September 2013
Viewed: 23rd March 2016 (rewatch)
Running time: 119 minutes
My rating: 3/10