Monday, January 9, 2017

Feral spaceman kills people. Are you not entertained?

This weekend I watched Riddick, a futuristic action movie starring Vin Diesel.  It is the third in the series, though I didn't even realize that when I watched it and I didn't feel like I was missing out.  I really liked it until right at the end a scene went wrong and it bothered me enough to shake my happy feelings about the movie.  (Massive spoilers, in case it wasn't obvious.)



The film got pretty meh reviews, but the complaints everybody else had were largely different from mine.  Mostly people hated the dialogue and the characters, whereas I quite liked them.  People think Vin Diesel is a horrible actor, and they are completely right.  He is the worst.  But even the worst actor can be fun to watch sometimes, and Vin wasn't called up on to do anything interesting here.

In short, Riddick is violent, gory, and brutal.  It has great conflict between four different factions that shifts throughout the movie in ways that are satisfying.  Many futuristic movies totally screw up tech, but Riddick does it right.  There is tech but they don't try to explain how it works or make me cringe with pseudo scientific gobbledegook - the characters just use the tech naturally.  There are advanced cybernetics, energy weapons, FLT travel, and other toys but they fit into the movie smoothly, by and large.  It feels dirty and rusted, patched together, a lot like a western setting but with lasers - it reminds me of Firefly, and that is a good thing.

The conflict mostly takes place between a bunch of violent mercenaries on a deserted planet, so one might expect that the token woman in the film would be there mostly to get rescued.  There is only a token woman called Dahl, but she is a total beast who kicks people's asses.  When they try shitty cat calling, she beats them up.  When one of the bastards tries to rape her, she kicks his ass and acts like it was no big thing.  She also is a lesbian which is great because more queer representation in film is good, especially amongst the hardcore hetero male action movie set.

But.

Near the movie's end the shit is hitting the fan and Riddick tells people how it is going to be.  He goes on about who he is going to kill and how they are going to get away from the aliens, and finishes off with "And then I am going balls deep into Dahl, but only because she will ask me nicely."  It was a jarring because Dahl had already spent enough of the movie fighting off misogynistic crap from the evildoers, she hardly needed the hero presuming she will be available for sex too!

The plot continues, and at the end of the movie Riddick is being rescued by Dahl, pulled up a wire into a spaceship.  She grinds against him, then says "I want to act you something really nicely...." and we are left to assume that they run off to have sex as soon as they get into the safety of the ship.

This makes me grumpy.  You get points for putting lesbians into action movies as fighters, sure, but you lose ALL those points when you have them suddenly convert to being straight just because the male protagonist is so damn sexy.  It especially irked me because there was a superb way to finish that scene that the movie already set up!  Earlier in the movie Dahl says to a guy who is hitting on her "I don't fuck men."  All she had to do when rescuing Riddick was say "You know, you were right when you told us how things were going to play out.  Except for just one thing... I still don't fuck men."

Bam!  She gets to actually stay queer, the conclusion is nicely foreshadowed, and it is even a bit funny when the superman hero of the series actually gets it wrong.  It would humanize him a bit, and make him much more of a character, and less of a caricature.

I found a lot to like about Riddick, but it seems my misogyny detector is set higher these days than even before and stuff like this gets to me.

6 comments:

  1. ...so, um, obviously I am with you on the misogyny, and also annoyed at this terrible ending thing, but how does fucking one man make a woman straight, exactly? She still gets to be queer, either way.

    Your ending is still hella better, but bi erasure isn't any cooler than the stuff you're complaining about :P

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    1. I should have said that she gets to stay lesbian instead of queer, fair enough. But you are assuming that in the movie she is bi, and not converted to straight by the power of Vin Diesel's penis. I am not willing to be so charitable in this case, and was speaking as though it was a conversion rather than merely an exception to her usual pattern. I don't have evidence for this of course, merely a feeling.

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    2. Yeah, this is where I must admit I've never seen the movie so your interpretation has more weight than mine in the end. Just a sloppy use of "queer", then fine enough.

      Now I'm even worried that the whole thing plays in to the idea that women only pretend to be into other women to fend off men (as if that has ever worked in the history ever, but since when do these tropes make sense anyway :P). Does Dahl actually get to get her lesbian on with any ladies? (I probably don't even want the answer to that, do I?)

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    3. There are no other women in the film, aside from a couple shots to establish Riddick's history where the women in question have no lines or names. The token woman, firmly cementing another Bechdel failure. :P

      I also felt like you could interpret her 'I don't fuck dudes' thing as a way to get men to leave her alone... but since she seems so willing and able to beat the crap out of violent, dangerous men on a whim I don't think that is really in character. She would be far more likely to tell them she would never fuck them in particular, to my mind.

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  2. On further thought, fuck it, I'm just headcanoning that Riddick isn't a dude after all. Dahl still doesn't fuck men, that's what Riddick was implying all along, and we all win? *fingerguns*

    Also apparently blogspot changed the way it does display names from wordpress accounts between my previous comments and this one, but whatever.

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    1. Oh dude, Riddick is actually a woman and they made sweet lesbian love in the spaceship afterwards? I like this as an alternate ending that we can agree on and nobody else considered.

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