...gonna kick the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight... musings of a hungarian in texas

©2003 by Annamaria Kovacs. All contents of this blog are the property of the author. Use with written permission only.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The new Riddick movie...

..is good, again, because it makes you think. It moves those little grey cells in your brain, forcing them to click into order, make connections with all kinds of historical, mythological, theological (yes), and cinematographic parallels. In this, it's a direct continuation of its prequel, Pitch Black, and is related to the oft misunderstod Underworld. It's also similar to these in that there are no black-and-white characters. There are no heroes, only protagonists--although one might argue that in Pitch Black there is a character who becomes a true hero at the end (no, not Riddick), and that there is one in the Chronicles... movie as well, even though he is not revealed as such until his final moments (and no, it's not Riddick again).

It's also similar to the aforementioned movies in its complete misunderstanding (or lack of understanding, to be exact) by all movie critics. And this saddens me. Are movie critics no longer required to read or have any kind of education? In the ex-commie Hungary I came from, I grew up on movie reviews that, despite their failings stemming from the limits of the regime they had to be written, carefully exploited all the connections of the back stories, the hidden metaphors, the grey-matter material of any cinematic experiment that went through the censors and got into the black screen. I am more than saddened by the fact that today's reviews lack this, almost completely. I am not going to throw spoilers out here regarding Riddick, but hello, Milton, hello, Dante, hello, Greek tragedies, hello, Shakespeare, hello, Flannery O'Connor (thanks to the Lizard Queen for pointing out the infernal comedy thread that connects the whole movie)...hello, Conan the Barbarian or Excalibur...this movie is a tresure house of themes, homages, analogies....And, besides all of these, there is an internally coherent backstory with a stunningly realized visual world.
I was again appalled by the reviewers' almost 100% inability to understand the plot--this is not rocket science, folks...just need to actually watch and listen and use your brain. And hey, there is Vin Diesel, not only as eye candy this time either (he was good in Pitch Black, surprisingly good, I must admit that I had huge prejudices that I dropped about 15 minutes into the movie)--and he brings out Riddick's development in this sequel strongly. There are some other fine performances in this one (Dame Judi Dench in particular)...so...I don't know. It all goes back to a favorite rant of my household we chewed upon several times: humanities education. It's something that is no longer required, or even encouraged. And as such, a huge part of our own past is inaccessible to many. There aren't so many dedicated teachers out there like my friend the Lizard Queen, who try to smuggle in a bit of WorldLit or WorldHist into their freshmen composition classes. And, thus, most young folks of the 21st century won't be able to understand the concepts of infernal comedy, know who lady Macbeth is, or why that image of Riddick at the very end of the movie is so chilling...
Rant off; The Bunny out; comments are more than welcome.

P.S: By the way- I agree with the Lizard Queen: there is a scene in the movie that really, really should be on everyone's Top 10 Favorite Movie Moments List. Actually, strike that. There are two. Again, I try not to do this with spoilers, but watch for An Animal Thing, and the unique use of a coffee cup and a sardine can opener.


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