Plot: What’s it about?
Riddick (Vin Diesel) is a wanted man, but then again, he always has been and is never able to show his face for too long. So he remains hidden from most eyes, though he does venture out at times, but even then, he maintains a low profile. While he lays low, an epic battle is about to spark into total chaos, as warring alien factions clash over political power. As both sides probably want Riddick dead, his interest is minimal in their conflict, until he is thrust into the middle of the flames. His hideout on a remote ice covered planet is stormed by bounty hunters, forcing him to abandon the only home he knows. Riddick manages to escape, but soon has to choose a side in this galactic quest to control the Helion Prime. One side is fronted by the maniacal Marshal (Colm Feore), a rogue priest who seeks to convert the masses, while the other is led by Aeron (Judi Dench), who has no such twisted desires. Riddick sides with Aeron and with her help, he is able to learn more about his own past, which remains a mystery to him even now. But at the same time, Riddick leads a charge against Marshal and his forces, no small task. As his past becomes more clear, his future starts to looks cloudy, as danger lurks everywhere and he cannot rest, even for a moment. Can even Riddick, with his unique abilities fend off Marshal, or will the entire planet be forced into servitude?
Pitch Black was an awesome movie, one that broke out of the usual conventions of sci/fi and action cinema, to create a unique vision. The performances were good, the storyline was great, and the visuals were out of this world. The film wasn’t a massive production, in terms of budget anyway, but it overcame the monetary limitations with flying colors. Now we have the sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick, which somehow manages to lose all of the charms of the original. As we all know, Vin Diesel has become a star since Pitch Black, so this is his movie from start to finish. The ensemble in the original was quite effective, but Diesel is unable to carry the entire burden here, which is he forced to do. The original had to be creative to overcome the modest budget, but in this sequel, the budget was in line with most blockbuster productions. The cash is useless here, as the visuals come off as weak and unoriginal, not to mention the bland special effects. The focus is all on action this time and as a result, the storyline suffers a great deal. This could have been a great movie, but instead, The Chronicles of Riddick is just another loud, overblown action movie. Universal’s Blu-ray offering includes both the theatrical and unrated versions, plus a terrific lossless soundtrack upgrade. So if you’re going to burn your time with this movie, this is the best available edition.
Video: How does it look?
The Chronicles of Riddick is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. This transfer is the same as the HD-DVD, which is not bad news at all. This looks crisp and clean, with no print flaws whatsoever and no softness concerns. Some scenes look excellent, with detail that pops right off the screen, though not all sequences live up to that level. Even so, the entire movie looks razor sharp and those standout moments only enhance things even more. No issues in terms of contrast to mention, while colors are well replicated with no errors. In short, this looks tremendous.
Audio: How does it sound?
The addition of a DTS HD 5.1 option gives this release a huge advantage over the HD-DVD, which only had a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 soundtrack. Where that track was average at best, this one is superb. The surrounds are used about the same amount, but the depth and presence have been upgraded a lot. So scenes that sounded good, now sound great. This carries over not just the action driven scenes, but also the more reserved ones. This disc also includes Spanish and French language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
An audio commentary with director David Twohy is up first, a session which is supplemented by comments from stars Karl Urban and Alexa Davalos. This is a talkative track, but the focus is more on anecdotes, so don’t expect much in terms of substance. Then again, the movie itself has no real substance, so why should the commentary track, right? This disc also includes some deleted scenes, as well as an assortment of promotional featurettes. You can also use the U-Control mode to learn about the film’s fight scenes and the backstories on the Riddick mythology.