The Chronicles of Riddick – HD-DVD Review

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ARCHIVE: Original Post Date – June 1st, 2006

The Film

The Chronicles of Riddick takes place about five years after the events of Pitch Black. Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) continues to fight for his life on Crematoria (what a name), a planet whose sun, apparently, is so blazingly hot that every 15 minutes it blankets everything beneath it basically vaporizing it. But that doesn’t really matter all that much now does it. For Riddick, who is one of the few surviving members of the Furions, has been captured by the Necromongers and now must find a way to power his way out like only Vin Diesel can. Apparently these Necromongers want every person to become a Necromonger. They line up behind their Lord Marshal who has visited a planet called Underverse and returned half alive and half something else. Then we meet a character named a character named Aereon (Judi Dench) who can materialize out of thin air and then disappear. This is the perfect idea for a majority of characters in this film. They appear, spend a few minutes of the screen, and then disappear for us to never see them again.

That is the first main problem with this film. We meet countless other characters including a little girl named Ziza who wants Riddick to fight these monsters for her. We hope that sometime during the film a big battle will occur where Riddick must defeat these aforementioned monsters and save the little girl, but such a scene never arrives. Why on earth would you hint at the scene then? I suppose this is because, as we can basically figure out from a few key scenes in the film, that a sequel is inevitable (maybe the sequel is the cartoon that recently came out).

The real positive, since I should try to find one, is the amount of action and violence in the film. I can’t ever imagine sitting down and watching theatrical PG-13 cut. We get a lot of violent scenes, albeit a majority of the scenes are extremely short, but we can’t expect a lot of common sense in a Vin Diesel film can we? (har har!) Speaking of Vin Diesel, it appears, possibly because Diesel is a big strong person that he was possibly born to play roles of this natures and he yells and growls with a certain tone that we may think he has been preparing for this role for his whole life. I have nothing really against Diesel as an actor (he is certainly not as a bad as most claim he is). A majority of the films he acts in are enjoyable to watch, Riddick included if you put aside a lot of the little problems, and he can definitely lead a role like he did in XXX.

Pitch Black became kind of a huge underground success in that, apparently, the fans of the film and this film want every little detail to make the most sense. Well, I don’t necessarily know how they can expect every little detail to make sense when every little detail, whether it be about the actual characters or the background story, is never really told to us. But I suppose that we don’t need to know every little detail since, I’m assuming, that Twohy wanted to just make a silly summer action fest that people could just go to see and get their two hours of action. The film is riddled with tons of CGI effects (as most huge action films are), most looking just fine, but some looking a little washed out.

The Chronicles of Riddick is certainly not the best action film ever made, but it does succeed in presenting a fairly good two hours of entertainment despite the viewer never really understanding why certain events are occurring to certain characters. The added footage, I’m told, makes the film a lot better and, considering I’ve never seen the PG-13 cut, I can only assume does. The Chronicles of Riddick is not a stupid action film, not a smart action film, but a intermediate action film that fans of Riddick will definitely enjoy and even those who aren’t complete fans will probably find something to like via the numerous action scenes.

Video Quality

For this HD-DVD release, Chronicles of Riddick still maintains its 2:40:1 Widescreen Aspect Ratio, but has obviously been upgraded to the 1080p HD format. So what exactly changes here? While for one the image looks absolutely amazing especially considering the original DVD transfer was created via a digital master. Colors are spot on (blacks obviously tend to stand out the most here considering the tone of the film) giving the viewer a sense of a photo realistic type world that Riddick is involved in. Sharpness is another positive here as no real edge enhancement was noticeable and I didn’t notice any real damage to the print or any real problems at all. Yes there have been better transfers out there, but Chronicles of Riddick is certainly how every HD-DVD release should look. The DVD quality was great which makes it easy enough for the HD-DVD release to take the film’s quality one step further.

Audio Quality

A true action film for the diehards is found here via the HD-DVD release of Chronicles of Riddick. The standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Audio track is included here with a English DTS 5.1 track as well. The film’s track, considering the nature and tone of the film, is very upbeat and loud. Dynamics are excellent with little sounds like roaring monsters and gunfire traveling from the rears to my ears while the fronts, like dialogue, is full and rich. For all you diehard HD-DVD guys who have been waiting for a release to show off the TRUE capabilities of your system (even though a TrueHD Dolby Mix would have been nice here), Chronicles of Riddick is a release that dies to be cranked up and listened to loud.

Bonus Materials

Comparing the releases on the DVD release of Riddick with these features found on the HD-DVD release, I do believe that three new features are on the HD-DVD release.

  • Introduction by David Twohy: This is an extremely brief introduction by the director who basically explains why certain scenes were deleted.
  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director David Twohy and Actors Karl Urban and Alexa Davalos: Despite having two actors present here, Twohy still does a majority of the talking giving us a lot of in-depth production detaisl, probably more than we might honestly want to know. I just wonder why studios bother to include actors in commentary tracks if they have nothing more than a few little stories to tell us.
  • Virtual Guide to the Chronicles of Riddick: This features looks into the film’s various cast members as they help to narrate the basic mythology behind the character’s world. Oddly enough, Vin Diesel was not present here.
  • Toombs’ Chase Log: This feature is a type of in-depth look as told by actor Nick Chinlaud. Nick goes over exactly how he captured Riddick in the film.
  • Vin Diesel’s Guided Tour: Here we have Mr. Diesel giving us a basic tour on the film’s set and design pieces.
  • Visual Effects Revealed: This feature is a basic overview by Twohy and supervisor Chaing as they discuss the film’s biggest sets.
  • Deleted Scenes: Here we get about eight minutes of deleted scenes with optional commentary by Twohy. The scenes don’t really add much as they are basic extensions or alternate takes to what we’ve seen already.
  • Creation of New Mecca: This feature explores the basic construction of the film’s futuristic world.
  • Riddick Rises: This features has a lot of interviews with Twohy and Diesel as they discuss the character’s origin, training and build.
  • Keep What You Kill: This feature dives how the Necromonger Empire kept their dark secrets and how they mastered the art of war.

Closing Thoughts

The HD-DVD release of Chronicles of Riddick has been improved quite a lot (if that was even possible honestly) as the image quality took a huge step up. The audio quality is as good as it can possibly be right now (until ANOTHER release of Riddick eventually shows up with a TrueHD Dolby mix attached to it). The adding in of three new features was a definite treat for Riddick fans as they all helped to explain his character a bit. For die-hard Riddick fans, the HD-DVD release of Chronicles of Riddick is a no-brainer. For action fans and system showoffs, Chronicles of Riddick is a sure fire bet.


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