A ludicrous script is usually the hurdle you find yourself trying to jump in an effort to enjoy an action-heavy science fiction in the character of Riddick. Surprisingly, it isn't the story that holds Vin Diesel's third Richard Riddick movie back, but what launches it forward through a dust cloud of other shortcomings and malfeasances. Kicking off with a wordless first act involving the lone criminal's determination to survive on a wasteland planet and progressing very gradually toward and through an intergalactic bounty hunter team's stakeout for the wanted man, we find ourselves adhering reluctantly to the slow-burning but densely packed drama. It'll get you. The claustrophic, death-on-the-horizon mission facing the band of lowlifes hunting down Riddick — and the intercepting troupe of more ostensibly "righteous" law enforcement officials (there's a guy who speaks calmly, a woman, and a kid who prays, so you know they're the good ones) — coughs up pissing contests, gender politics, and strategy debates in the valley of meaty sociological sci-fi like classic Star Trek episodes. Meanwhile, Diesel is hiding out in the adjacent caves, plotting his next move.
After a uniquely primal introductory chapter, wherein we're engrossed by the vivid hell that is "Not Furya" (Riddick's affectionate name for the world within which he is prisoner) in the same way that we connect to the first chapter of 2001: A Space Odyssey, we're relieved to welcome in some new characters (and, of course, actual dialogue). While Diesel can muster charisma taunting Jordi Mollà's bounty hunter creep Santana or Matt Nable's stoic (with a breaking point) officer Johns, he's not the sort of actor who can carry long stretches of wordless, pensive survival on his own. Luckily, he gets a dog pretty early on, so that picks things up a bit.
But problems are not absent when the film duodecuples its population. Once the talking kicks up, so does the occasional weaving of mythos. Even those familiar with the old films will find themselves boggled by the convoluted, cantankerous backstory building that pops in obligatorily, wishing that the film would just get back to the quavering stakeout. However, there is a far bigger issue at hand.
While the heated issues presented Within the tiny world of the battling teams sent to the planet to hunt down Riddick are a banquet for the viewer, some of the problems actually traverse beyond the screen, and All of them involve sole female player Katee Sackhoff and her character Dahl. It says everything that the only woman in this film bears a handle that is homophonous to "Doll." While we can expect the no nonsense officer to be treated with a dearth of respect (and worse) by money hungry, lustful bounty man Santiago, the film itself doesn't seem to have a much more forgivable attitude toward the character, her gender, or her sexual orientation (which is, inscrutably, one of the most revisited topics of conversation).
Present through the movie as soon as Dahl steps onscreen, Riddick's misogyny will get in the way of its otherwise enjoyable and interesting foray into gritty sci-fi, but stands as its sole indefensible problem. Had a more diligent, progressive eye in the edit bay relinquished David Twohy's screenplay of this outrageously persistent repulsion, we might have a film altogether triumphant. With a cherished character readily available for returning fans and a new stock of interesting set-ups for any genre aficionado, not to mention palpable tension — and, yes, the dog — Riddick really only suffers from its misshapen approaches toward gender and sexuality. It's one problem, but it's a damn big one.
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S8E7: With only two more episodes left in the entire series, Entourage finally pulls out the big guns – and by big guns, I mean big ol’ crocodile tears. It took eight seasons, but the show finally found an emotional hook. And no, I’m not being sarcastic. I felt compassion for Ari. I felt sad for Dana. I felt worried for Turtle. I felt anger at E. And I actually felt happy for Vince. Is this an alternate universe, or am I just getting soft because I know it will all be over after next week’s episode? Perhaps it’s a mixture of both.
“I’m like the Francis Ford Coppola of iMovie.” – Turtle
To convince Sophie to date him, Vince enlists Turtle to help make a video of all his old girlfriends talking about how he was sweet and took great care of them – with one last newly pregnant ex as the kicker. This is the hardest we’ve ever seen Vince try for a girl and it’s not that he’s ever been a bad guy, it just seems strange that he’d nab such a catch. This plot point probably falls on the “acceptability because of sentimentally” side of things, but hey, it’s Vin’s last hurrah, so let’s let him be happy for once, eh?
Drama drops off the video for Sophie and tries very hard to convince her to date his brother. Kevin Dillon’s acting may be as terrible as his character’s is supposed to be, but Drama convinces Sophie to give Vince a chance, even though she doesn’t date celebs and her last her boyfriend was a pediatric surgeon at Johns Hopkins. Yeah, Hollywood star doesn’t sound quite as prestigious.
Later, Sophie calls a number that she thinks is Vince’s and it’s actually Turtle’s. He continues the sentimental praise for Vince – and what I’m guessing is the series’ way of sending off the character that is the anchor for its each and every plot – and he tells Sophie to give him a shot. She says she’ll have a drink at the Chateau Marmont with Vince even though this is the “weirdest courtship of all time.” True, but can’t a Vanity Fair journalist muster a better adjective?
“The only reason I didn’t knock out that firecrotch Flay for being in my house is that I can’t afford a lawsuit.” –Ari
Vince’s script still isn’t materializing into a movie for Billy Walsh and Drama and it takes a squirrelly little game of whodunit (though if we paid attention last week, we’d know that the guilty party was Phil Yagoda, in his office, with a box of smashed apology cookies) to figure out who the wrench in the system is. Dana loves the script – for a TV movie – because it’s emotionally manipulative. Hmm, smells like Lifetime (or the Hallmark Channel if you’re Dana’s buddy). She says she’ll pull some strings, but Ari needs to read it. He’s so distraught over his marriage that it brings him to tears IN HIS OFFICE of all places. He’s actually forged an emotional connection with it and will do anything to get it made, there’s just one small snag: the Hallmark Channel wants Zachary Levi and Phil Yagoda wants anyone but Drama as payback for the Johnny’s Bananas walkout. The solution? Vince throws 100 Gs at Phil’s dog charity and boom, Drama’s back in and the movie’s a go.
Ari, however is still very much out of sorts. While in bed with Dana, all he can talk about is figuring out how to get money to pay off his soon-to-be ex wife and she asks him what he’s doing with her. In one of the most honest and tender scenes I can remember on Entourage, Ari tells Dana how wonderful she makes him feel but admits he still loves his wife. Dana’s extremely sad but she tells him he has to figure out what his wife is missing and give it her. (And let’s be real, he will and it will all end happily ever after.)
“Turtle, you got your checkbook?” –The Don Pepe Couple
The Queens couple is still being a pain in Turtle’s ass, but at least they finally admit it. They only came to LA to be wined and dined; they had no intention of opening a Don Pepe’s West Coast location, but they wanted to see the restaurant where the Octomom (blech) used to go, and they want to rent the space for Don Pepe’s because the street it’s on, Bella Rosa, is the owner’s mother’s name. Two small problems – the price tag is a bit steep and the couple won’t invest a dime.
Cue Turtle calling investors – including The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira as well as the Knicks’ Amare Stoudmire – but they’re getting annoyed that he’s asking for more money and he’s risking losing their support altogether. It gets even worse when A-Rod mentions that Avion went public and that everyone Turtle advised to sell their stock like he did is going to be pissed because they just lost the opportunity to make millions. Turtle’s upset because he could have used his millions to start Don Pepe’s. Miraculously (and we’ll okay this because it’s the second-to-last episode), Vince kept his stock and bought Turtle’s and says he’ll sell it back for its original price (300 bucks) so that Turtle will get his $4 million return, which means he’s rich and he’s opening a Don Pepe’s. I’m not going to lie, it makes me happy to see Turtle succeed, even if it’s because Vince saved his ass again.
“Oh – you’re fired go fuck yourself.” –Johnny Galecki
Despite the immense profitability of having Johnny Galecki as a client, E still wants Scott to drop him on pain of E quitting the agency. E continues his streak of being a complete and total idiot and finally the characters in Entourage’s little world are getting fed up too. Scott refuses to drop the actor, gets E to admit he slept with Melinda, chastises E for being such an idiot and tells him to get his shit together and get over Sloane. At least someone finally said it – and no, Ari’s little “grow a pair” talks never count because none of them ever listens to Ari.
For some idiotic, self-sabotaging reason, E is still sleeping with Melinda, and we get to see them lying awkwardly in bed together while E bitches about Sloane. You’re not fooling anyone E, you sound like a teenage girl trying to convince herself that she’s just so much hotter than that boy who dumped her. He says he has to tell Melinda because his friends are tired of hearing about it – well, guess what E? So are we.
But, the drama escalates. Turtle spots Sloane and Galecki at the Farmers Market, right after Melinda says E’s still in love with Sloane. On cue, E heads right over to confront Galecki and Sloane with Melinda in the Farmers Market because her dating Galecki confirms that she slept with Seth Green way back when – at least in his mind, I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure. He chases her out of the restaurant and berates her before finally calling her slut. And this is when I growled with rage because I actually cannot believe that after all these years he’s actually this much of an imbecile. He gets his just desserts when Galecki so eloquently fires him, but he makes sure to follow Sloane home she he can be a big boy and apologize.
It turns out she was actually going to tell Galecki that she needed to break up with him and when E says he wants her back and asks if she still has feelings for him, she says it doesn’t matter is she’s not over him because her family means more. Then comes the shocker – yes! Finally a really shocker with the Sloane/E saga! – she says she’s pregnant and she’s only slept with E so it’s his. But – and it’s a big but – she’s still going to NY and she doesn’t want anything from E.
Thank you, Entourage. Thank you for making these last few episodes about the relationships and not the “Eh! Is Vince gonna do the movie?” back and forths. Some of us have had our gripes about this show through the years, but the thing that’s kept us coming back and that’s made sure we’re all here to see these final episodes are the characters. They’re our guys and through mediocre plots and so-so acting, we love them just the same. It’s only fitting that the last few episodes would have more concerned with their happiness than their pocketbooks – well, maybe not in Turtle’s case, but a lifetime of great Italian food is almost as good a relationship, right?