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The Chronicles of Riddick(2004)
Five years after the events in the film Pitch Black, escaped convict Riddick finds himself caught in the middle of a galactic war waged by Lord Marshal, the leader of a sect called the Necromongers. Riddick is charged with stopping the Necromonger army from its evil grip, meanwhile rescuing an old friend from a prison planet and evading capture by bounty hunters.
For more about The Chronicles of Riddick and the The Chronicles of Riddick Blu-ray release, see the The Chronicles of Riddick Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 28, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: David Twohy
Writer: David Twohy
Starring: Vin Diesel, Colm Feore, Thandie Newton, Judi Dench, Karl Urban, Alexa Davalos
» See full cast & crew
The Chronicles of Riddick Blu-ray Review
Great picture and sound can't save this lackluster sequel.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 28, 2009
In normal times, evil would be fought by good, but in times like these . . . well, it should be fought by another kind of evil.
Three cheers for another "only one man can save the universe" movie. OK, not really. The Chronicles of Riddick is a highly disappointing follow-up to 2000's Pitch Black, this sequel foregoing all that made the original a great Science Fiction film. It lacks the originality of the first for one, this film taking an interesting and complex character and transforming him into just another musclebound Action hero. While the transition makes sense logically based on Riddick's self-proclaimed transformation at the end of Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick violates the independent feel and spirit of the first film by going down a road paved with lavish production values and practically incessant CGI, each frame boasting only dull characters, a bland plot, and tiresome action sequences. Bigger doesn't always mean better, and no truer words may be spoken when it comes to The Chronicles of Riddick.
After escaping the unending night and deadly creatures of Pitch Black, Riddick (Vin Diesel, xXx), finds himself on the run from a new bounty hunter, Toombs (Nick Chinlund), and learns that the one man he entrusted with his whereabouts -- Imam al-Walid (Keith David, Delta Farce) -- has betrayed his location. Riddick heads to Helion Prime where he confronts the Imam, who in turn tells Riddick that the fate of the entire universe is at stake. A race of powerful beings known as Necromongers, who hope to conquer the universe and enter another dimensions known as the "Underverse," have next in their sites Helion Prime. Riddick soon learns from an Elemental named Aereon (Judi Dench, Quantum of Solace) that he is the embodiment of a prophesy that foretells of a Furyon saving the universe from the Necromongers. Riddck must choose between standing on the sidelines or defeating true evil in the universe before it's too late.
In this film's defense, the Riddick character is carried over from the first one with few alterations to his psychological make-up. In Pitch Black, the character slowly transforms from hardened, viscous, and unrepentant killer ("escaped convict, murderer," being the exact words Riddick uses to describe himself) to a hero with a conscience, and in The Chronicles of Riddick, information slowly comes to light that paints him as a man now concerned for the welfare of others, particularly those he trusts, even to his own detriment. So, The Chronicles of Riddick gets its main character right, but it seems to get just about everything else wrong. The film feels like something of a cross between Star Wars and Dune when it comes to the backstory created for Riddick. Of course, he can no longer just be a bodybuilding criminal-turned-hero with a "surgical shine job." The story requires of him more than physical strength, cunning, and night vision to save the universe, so it is revealed that he is of a line of peoples that a prophesy foretells will put an end to the tyranny and devastation wrought by the evil Necromongers. Riddick instantly transforms from a mysterious, strong, cunning, and even cool character to just another hero that -- surprise, surprise -- will save the universe one sliced-up bad guy at a time. Despite the added layers, there is no depth to the character this go-round, and even his best lines are recycled from the first film ("cute kid" and "you're not afraid of the dark, are you?"), serving as a nice homage to those still paying attention whenever they crop up in Chronicles.
The Chronicles of Riddick foregoes the utilitarian and desolate world of Pitch Black in favor of intricately constructed and detailed starships, cities, and enemy army uniforms. Because Pitch Black only focused on an insignificant sliver of the whole universe, it stands to reason that most anything presented in a sequel that vastly expands the scope of the timeframe could conceivably exist. The visuals in most every scene are impressive, offering a scope that is nothing short of immense and highly detailed. Director David Twohy has created entire worlds that revel in intricate detail, a true asset in selling a film such as this. That also may be the film's biggest downfall. Often, it just feels too lavish and lush. The sweeping vistas and massive starships seem too artsy, complex, and involved, and it seems like the film's visuals and production design were the driving force behind the film rather than a strong, original plot. Indeed, "complex" and "involved" describe the plot very well. It's too detailed and convoluted for what is ultimately a flashy Action/Sci-Fi picture, and there is no real sense of cohesion or flow. The film is sluggishly paced, and although it offers an abundance of action sequences, they all begin to mesh together, none of them playing as the least bit memorable. The Chronicles of Riddick is a classic example of style over substance, and while the film earns high marks for its visuals, a lackluster story, dull characters, and repetitive action sequences rank it far lower than its esteemed predecessor.
The Chronicles of Riddick Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Chronicles of Riddick arrives on Blu-ray with a high quality 1080p transfer framed inside a 2.35:1 window. After a more depressed, dull, and colorless opening sequence, the film livens up once the action switches to Helion Prime. Color reproduction is impressive, the image basted in a slight golden hue. The many colors scattered about, primarily the reds and golds of Helion Prime, sparkle, though they later give way to the dark grays and lifeless locales of both the Necromnger ships and the harsh reds and grays of Crematoria. Detail is highly impressive throughout; whether in the long, flowing robes worn by the Imam or the revelation of every bead of sweat, pore, hair, and other markings on human faces, the disc offers plenty of clarity that sometimes borders on visual perfection. Black levels and flesh tones are nicely reproduced throughout. The Chronicles of Riddick isn't the best-looking disc available, but it ranks above many others.
The Chronicles of Riddick Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Chronicles of Riddick explodes onto Blu-ray with a high-powered DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. This track wastes no time in cranking out the goods. It is immediately impressive as powerful sound flows from the entire soundstage. The film's score is loud and clear, accompanied by thunderous bass from both the percussion section of the orchestra as well as the numerous loud and distinct sound effects. Sound swoops around the listening area in a 360-degree sound field, pouring out of the rear channels as loudly and aggressively as the front. The opening chase again features rumbling bass that punishes the best of sound systems, with impressive directionality and unforgiving bass. This level of aggressive excellence continues throughout. Rarely do more than a few minutes go by without a loud, exciting sonic sequence that flows from every speaker. While all the shootouts border on stunning, one heard in chapter eighteen makes for one of the highlights of the track. It plays sans music, and the crackle of gunfire, both loud and distant, is heard coming form every corner of the soundstage to wonderful and seemingly realistic effect. Dialogue reproduction is strong and authoritative throughout. The Chronicles of Riddick's lossless soundtrack is another masterful effort from Universal.
The Chronicles of Riddick Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Chronicles of Riddick blasts onto Blu-ray with a myriad of bonus features. Introduction by David Twohy 480p, 0:45) features the Director discussing the process of digitally inserting missing frames and adding new footage into the director's cut of the film. Next is a commentary track with Writer/Director David Twohy and Actors Karl Urban and Alexa Davalos. The verbose and passionate Twohy dominates the track, sharing plenty of behind-the-scenes information. He discusses not only the on-screen action but delves into the backstory of many scenes and shares the pertinent information as it relates to the making of the film. The other participants chime on occasionally, (Urban more so than Davalos), and the trio make for a good track that fans will enjoy. A series of deleted scenes follow the commentary (480p, 8:02), again with optional director commentary. Also available is Universal's U-Control feature, this time with four separate picture-in-picture video tracks. The first, simply entitled Picture in Picture, shows viewers conceptual art, behind-the-scenes footage, cast and crew interviews, and more. Complete Chronicles is a narrated piece that takes viewers through the history of the Riddick character with clips from the films and text-based trivia. Chronicles Compendium allows viewers to glean further insight into the world of Riddick, learning about the races, worlds, beliefs, and key players that factor into the films. Finally, Anatomy of a Fight looks more deeply into Riddick's fighting strategy and the damage various encounters wreck on the human body.
Virtual Guide to 'The Chronicles of Riddick' (480p, 7:40) features several characters sharing further information into the Riddick universe as if reading from a diary or historical text. Toombs' Chase Log (480p, 9:56) is a brief recounting of Toomb's mostly unseen-in-the-film pursuit of Riddick through the universe. Visual Effects Revealed (480p, 6:01) takes an all-too-brief look at the making of some of the film's many visual effects and how they shape the final look and feel of the film. Creation of New Mecca (480p, 11:12) is a multi-purpose piece that examines the roles and personalities of the characters and the creation of some of the film's more elaborate sets and props. Riddick Rises (480p, 13:26) looks at the evolution of the character and the attributes he brings to the table. Keep What You Kill (480p, 17:13) looks closely at the world of the Necromongers -- their beliefs, desires, the individuals that are featured in the film, the make-up and props, and more. Finally, this disc is BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) enabled.
The Chronicles of Riddick Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Chronicles of Riddick is a disappointing sequel to a great film. While it sees the return of several characters, none of them, even Riddick, are particularly compelling this time. Riddick has been turned into another run-of-the-mill hero and provided a backstory that is unoriginal at best and completely unfitting the character at worst. The film also offers tremendous attention to detail in its visual design, but often to the detriment of the story. Style dominates substance throughout, and while the stylization is noteworthy and interesting to behold, it overshadows every other aspect of the film. Universal's Blu-ray release of this lackluster film is exceptional. The disc features strong video and a reference-quality soundtrack, not to mention a plethora of bonus materials. Fans should not hesitate to pick this one up.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Other Editions
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