Riddick, third in the movie series, has a weaker plotline, and a big drop in how it treats women, which is quite something to say given how women have always walked a grey line in these movies. Pitch Black was a real rarity in SF (and any other genre) terms, because it appeared to be a story about a morally ambiguous woman - right up until her plotline was sacrificed on the altar of a charismatic man.
Fry is not a bad person, but in a moment of peril she puts her life over those of her human cargo - and then has to step up and be responsible for that cargo. The story is basically Fry's story - and the initial script basically reversed the final deaths - Riddick dies so Fry can live. Although it is an unfortunate ditching of interesting woman in favour of ultra-cool guy, Pitch Black is more powerful the way it ends, and that final protest of Riddick's: "Not for me". Our expectations are turned on our heads when Riddick, the dark soul, the murderer theoretically gone beyond the moral event horizon, survives while Fry was the "last girl" whose journey of redemption we had been following is killed saving him.
Nor is Fry the only interesting female in the movie - there's the cynical (if unable to duck) Sharon, and the girl-in-disguise Jack. They're all there trying to survive, and they appear whole and independent.
We don't see any of their breasts.
The Chronicles of Riddick, while a serious U-turn in terms of tone, gave us more of Jack's story and her positioning of Riddick as a father figure. The movie also included a variety of other women - from an air elemental to an ambitious wife. Again, this is as much Jack's journey as it is Riddick's, and again the woman whose journey we've followed is killed for Riddick.
So, going into the third movie, Riddick, my expectations weren't entirely positive. I expected a movie which showed off how hard-core Riddick was - which is precisely what I got - but I also expected an interesting female character or two, most likely ending up fridged. That I most definitely didn't get.
It's particularly odd because the movie goes out of its way to parallel Pitch Black, making the 'return to before' situation the crux of the plot - it's doesn't make for half so powerful a story, but there's fun in watching Riddick being harder than hard.
It's not fun watching the women in this story.
There are three female appearances in Riddick. The first is four naked ladies in the bed of the Necromonger ruler. They did some languid writhing.
The second is a captive of one of the bounty hunters - a minor bounty who it is clearly suggested has been sexually abused by her captor. Her brief appearance serves only to demonstrate that one of the bounty hunters is a horrible person.
The third is Dahl, one of the 'less bad' bounty hunters. A no-nonsense sniper (with some physical resemblance to Fry), Dahl:
1. Is hit on by the extra-bad bounty hunter.
2. Tells him she's not interested in men.
3. Is shown topless giving herself a basin bath while Riddick watches from outside the window.
4. Fights off an assault from the extra-bad bounty hunter.
5. Exchanges sex-badinage with Riddick.
6. Is shown "straddling" Riddick during the final rescue scene.
She doesn't have any emotional journey, beyond some ambiguity as to whether she is attracted to Riddick despite being (presumably) a lesbian.
It's hard to believe this was made by the same creative team as the first two movies.
16 September 2013
The women of Riddick (minor spoilers)
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