I went to see the new Riddick movie this weekend with my husband and son. I'm either the worst mom in the world or the best, depending on who you talk to. The theatre was filled with teenage boys, their dads, and 20-something guys.
Women were scarce in the theatre and were either dates who thought "Riddick" was short for "Ridiculous" and was a comedy starring Reese Witherspoon, or were older women who were paying penance for forcing their husbands to see the last Reese Witherspoon vehicle. There may have been a few women who just dig Vin Diesel's "just got outta jail and ready to rob a liquor store" look. If so, I sincerely hope there is a support group or a 12-step program for that.
The new Riddick movie is the third installment of a series starring Vin Diesel as a man from some far-off planet who has been left for dead repeatedly throughout his life. As an infant, all the babies on his planet were killed to forestall some prophecy from being fulfilled. Clearly, these people skipped Vacation Bible School as children and didn't realize that this plan never, ever works.
If you didn't see the first two installments of the Riddick saga, I'm told that neither of them made much sense, so you are at no real disadvantage. What you need to know is that Riddick is the ultimate survivalist, a sort of Bear Grylls in Space. If you can stomach the violence and gore, you can learn a great deal from Riddick about surviving in a hostile environment, whether it's a barren planet full of monsters or the local PTA.
Here are the key things I learned about survival from Riddick 3:
1. Don't Get Involved in Local Politics. Riddick's predicament is the outcome of a power struggle with another guy (played by Karl Urban, not Keith Urban, as my husband erroneously informed me). The two are in an argument over who will be the Lord Marshal* of some small planet. My husband originally told me that they were vying for Grand Marshal. I thought that it was a little silly to get so upset over who gets to ride in the back of a convertible in a parade. I have heard that the politics behind the Rose Parade can get, well, thorny, so the point is that you can never tell. Actually, Karl/Keith and Riddick are fighting over who gets to wear a spiky neckbrace and sleep with four naked women at a time, so the stakes are much lower than the Rose Parade. Just ask Vin Scully.
*Also, don't rely on descriptions of movies from my husband, ever.
2. Memorize Web MD. If you fall off a cliff (or are pushed off one) and your leg is broken, you need to know how to set it without anesthetic, using only the screws that fall out of your body armor. Riddick has been left for dead repeately since infancy, so he instinctively knows what to do and seems immune from infection. He's just too badass for bacteria to colonize on, I suppose. He also proactively innoculates himself against cobra-scorpion hybrid venom, which comes in handy later when people are trying to shoot him full of horse tranquilizers. Remember the Riddick motto: Bandages are for wussies!
3. Be Creative. If Bear Grylls has taught us anything about surviving the hours in the wild you're not holed up in a five-star hotel with a camera crew, it is that you need to use everything you find in your environment to your advantage. Riddick shows us that if you find some giant monster traps lying around, use them! Especially when giant, water-dwelling monsters are just under the next raincloud. If you find a woman's make-up compact, use it! The mirror can come in handy to look around corners, temporarily blind an enemy, or to freshen up your look.
4. Find a Companion. If at all possible, find an ally to help you in hostile territory. The planet Riddick is on is chock full of weird monsters that love to eat man-meat. He tames a Dingo-Dongo, an animal that reminded me of an old joke: "What do you get when you cross a hyena with a tiger?" ..."I don't know, but it's standing right next to you." Even the stoic Riddick, whose two facial expressions seem to be "bored" and "teeth-baring grimace," can't go it alone. Riddick realizes that with a little training, Dingo-Dongos make excellent pets, can sniff out danger, and will entertain for hours when they are not trying to eat you.
5. Know Who to Trust. If you send out a distress beacon, be prepared for whoever might show up. They could be friendly, helpful firefighters, or a crew of bounty hunters who are literally out for your head. The first group to show up looked like they all were released from prison the same day, entered a mud-wrestling tournament, then joined the Intergalactic Merchant Marines on a whim. The first wave came prepared with a high-tech lucite box with its own micro-climate to store Riddick's severed head in when they transported it back to the Grand Marshal's lair. It seemed like a pretty fancy box for such a gruesome task. The first group was quickly followed by a team of aging Abercrombie models with high-tech gear and a token lesbian sharpshooter. The first bounty hunters wanted to kill Riddick, but the other group wanted to talk to him before they killed him. Luckily, Riddick was able to gain the upper hand on all of them by being stealthy and creative. He was also able to get ahead using knife skills that a Benihana chef would envy. He was even able to charm the lesbian sharpshooter by complimenting both her pedicure and her breasts in under 10 words. What woman wouldn't fall for that?
Overall, I liked this film more than I expected I would and walked away with some practical knowledge I can use if I'm ever marooned on a deserted island, trapped in a movie theatre full of teen boys, or forced to serve on our Homeowners Association Board. Vin Diesel's limited facial expressions and somber monotone grew on me over the nine hours of the film (actually 2 that just seemed like 9). By the end, I was rooting for him to run off with the sharpshooter and be welcomed back to his home planet on the back of a convertible spaceship wearing a satin sash.
Oh, and Hollywood, if you're reading this, I have an idea for a Rom-Com screenplay starring Reese Witherspoon and Keith Urban who start off as rivals for the title of Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade who end up falling in love. Contact my agent, Donna Schwartz Mills, if you're interested in a meeting.