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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Science Fiction > The Chronicles Of Riddick – Unrated Director’s Cut (HD-DVD)

The Chronicles Of Riddick – Unrated Director’s Cut (HD-DVD)


Picture: B     Sound: B+     Extras: C     Film: C-



Vin Diesel is an established action hero and for the genre the only actor of his generation established with the mindless action side that means anything or any big box-office.  However, he did not do sequels to XXX or The Fast & The Furious and has tried other types of films, including disastrous comedy The Pacifier.  However, it was Pitch Black that established him and that it was a hit is an interesting story in itself to be discussed in that HD-DVD review.  The Chronicles Of Riddick (2004) is the big budget sequel at Universal, the second studio home of the character.


Now escaped, Riddick (Diesel) continues to dodge ruthless bounty hunters and finding himself in the middle of some kind of civil war, which could alter or destroy the human race as they know it.  Will he use his talents to help or is the situation beyond him?  The idea is that his character is very able-bodied and if he helps anyone, it will not be under simple circumstances because of the dangerous killer he is.  However, writer/director David Twohy’s screenplay is shockingly silly and juvenile versus the original film and previous work Twohy has done.


Once again, I have to sit through the torture of Thandie Newton being wasted in a messy commercial venture way below her talents, but hey, there’s Karl Urban again!  OK.  Colm Feore, Judi Dench, Alexa Davalos, Keith David and Kristin Lehman strictly in this director’s cut as Shirah round out the cast that is at least pleasant to watch, unlike many action films (Doom) where everyone is annoying.  The problem is that this more violent cut does not add to the severe lack of story and the extra character and items are more like playing connect the dots to other films and games in the franchise than actually being its own film you can enjoy.  If Twohy and Diesel had decided to capitalize on the many things that worked in Pitch Black, they would have more than a videogame franchise with a cheesy film.  They would have had a big commercial tentpole.  Years from now, most will realize just how badly the missed opportunity was.


The 2.35 X 1 1080p digital High Definition image is not bad considering the endless digital visual effects work all over the place, but it is no Serenity.  Hugh Johnson does a competent job on the cinematography in too-often generic Super 35, but after all the digitizing and tons of CG implementations and composites, where does his work end and the videogame begin?  Though it had a lower budget, Pitch Black had at least as good a look, but all involved wanted to deliver more (especially with the videogame tied into the franchise) and forgot that more is less.  Still, this HD version looks superior to the DVD, which is the point of having a new format.


The sound is more like it, featured in solid Dolby Digital Plus and regular DTS 5.1 mixes that make the action scenes interesting enough to watch and make for some good demo moments.  Dialogue is not bad and the music by Graeme Revell is a mixed bag.  Despite doing interesting scores for films like The Crow films, Basketball Diaries, Strange Days, From Dusk ‘Till Dawn, Spawn, Sin City, Daredevil and the grossly underrated Below, his score here is good sometimes, and seemingly pandering the next.  He did the score for Pitch Black as well, which worked better.  I guess he was playing it safe.


Extras include deleted scenes, Virtual Guide to The Chronicles of Riddick, Toombs' Chase Log, Riddick Insider, Visual Effects Revealed, Vin Diesel's Guided Tour, Interactive 360° View of the Sets and Audio Commentary with Writer/Director David Twohy and Actors Karl Urban & Alexa Davalos.  They feel like they are celebrating a video game as much as this film, which might just be the idea.  The videogame was a huge hit as the film tanked, but the game made so much money that video sales of the film were a little better than they would have been otherwise out of curiosity interest.  Now, the HD-DVD makes for a good sound demo with its visual moments.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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