The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) - Unrated Director's Cut

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Science Fiction
Universal || NR - 125 minutes - $14.98 || November 16, 2004
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2004-12-25


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: David Twohy
Writer(s): Jim Wheat (characters) & Ken Wheat (characters), David Twohy (screenplay)
Cast: Vin Diesel, Thandie Newton, Karl Urban, Colm Feore, Judi Dench


Theatrical Release Date: June 11, 2004


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Writer-Director & Actors' Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Visual Guide to The Chronicles of Riddick
  • Toombs' Chase Log
  • Riddick Insider
  • Visual Effects Revealed
  • Riddick's Worlds
  • Play the X-Box Game
  • DVD-ROM


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

I never did see Chronicles of Riddick in theaters, so I cannot tell you what's different, but suffice to say, I don't think the theatrical version would've been any better.

The first problem I had was the plot itself was confusing. Who are these people? Are the bad guys just bad and want to rule the universe? Is that all there is to it? What's the deal with Judi Dench? Why was she in here? The logical answers, though, I think have to with the thoughts from writer/director David Twohy and star/producer Vin Diesel that this was going to be a trilogy.

I have to assume that Universal and the rest were banking on this being a part-Terminator (a la Vin Diesel's anti-hero) and Star Wars (with a bunch of space-capades). The problem? The Chronicles of Riddick never had a viable or formable villain. Sure Lord Marshal can "warp" from place to place while fighting (he basically has eyes in the back of his head, he's all-seeing), but he's nowhere near being someone who I believe could beat Riddick. The reason Darth Vader was so cool (and a villain for whom I would join the dark side for), is he is so damn scary. He doesn't mince words and he knows what he's doing. He's got that "villain swagger"!

Some points, though, I did like was primarily all on the technical side of things. The special effects were very well done and some of the action sequences were great to look at. Although some of these scenes became illogical (it is a science fiction movie, so I guess it can be forgiven) with a planet that is ice cold on one side and beyond hot on the other. Yet, when our fearless heroes get the light on them, they don't boil in the least bit, instead they get an extra few seconds to hide behind a rock (oh yeah, shade will help). Maybe I misunderstood the laws of this planet. Maybe the scorching 700 degree heat doesn't affect you unless you're standing in it for five seconds or something. Be it as it may, the effects for the scenes were definately good.

Vin Diesel has been dubbed by some fanboys on the Net as the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. Though I do think he is a bonafide action star, he also has the ability to dabble in other genres. With Ahnold, he has one thing he could do well: blow s*** up! Diesel (what a name!) can take on a more dramatic role and make it work for his persona (watch Boiler Room someday).

Overall, this is one Chronicle I'll skip in the future (that is, if there IS any). Even though I like Vin Diesel, I cannot see this going anywhere unless the $100m+ budget get shrinked down by, oh, $80m.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

First, the Virtual Guide to The Chronicles of Riddick comes across more as a museum tour than one of the film. Some of the characters from Chronicles explain some of the plot or the climate of such and such a planet, but the problem is, some of these lines were from the movie itself rather than anything new and (more importantly) interesting. I mean, what's the point of this?

Toombs' Chase Log is another feature as useless as the Virtual Guide. I didn't find any kind of use for this but maybe if you're a fan of the character, you might enjoy it. This feature consists of Toombs counting out his days of his tracking down and capturing Riddick. 1 Day out. 56 days out. 76 days out. Blah blah annoying as hell. There's no images other than Toombs at the lower right hand of the screen and a map following his path. Nothing else. This stupid feature runs around 6 minutes.

Riddick Insider is a pop-up factoid feature, giving some insight into trivia stuff about the plot, characters, set designs and -- primarily -- the Riddick "mythos". Some of the stuff wasn't all that facsinating but at least more interesting than the other features. Did you know that Judi Dench's character was taloired for her because Vin Diesel has always wanted to work with her? Do you care? If you are someone who enjoyed not only Chronicles, but Pitch Black as well, then you may find this very interesting and may fill in some questions that has been on your mind. But, I'm not one of those people...

In Visual Effects, the people behind the special effects take the viewer basically on a Cliff's Notes version of hwat it took to make the effects seen in Chronicles. Running at 6 minutes, the featurette focuses on a few scenes such as Judi Dench's transformation, the hounds, plus scenes involving our hero on enviromentally hostile planets. I guess it was nice to have anything at all.

Another short featurette, Riddick's Worlds, run at around 3 minutes and has star and producer Vin Diesel doing his best as a real estate agent as he takes the viewer on a tour of the sets and remarks on the amazing and detailed designs. Not quite a wonderful featurette but pretty cool to watch.

Last is the commentary track from writer/director Twohy who is accomponied by actors Karl Urban and Alexa Davalos. The nice thing here is they are on the track together (versus being recorded separately and then spliced in later), though Urban did his in his native country of New Zealand. The commentary itself wasn't all that great but director Twohy does give some information about the actual filming process, how Diesel got Dame Judi Dench to sign on, but the rest of the way (including actors), it was more of a play by play track than anything else. Not a great commentary, though still decent enough and one of the better features on this disc (which is not saying much).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

For an action flick, I was hoping for some more heart-pounding moments, but some of those seemed to more subdued than I was hoping. However, the rest of it, the Dolby Surround Sound is very nice and the dialogue and other elements come through alright. The picture, as always with new films, looks excellent as the rich sci-fi set designs show up nicely.



.::OVERALL::.

The Chronicles of Riddick, financially, was a mistake on Universal's part. I think they were hoping for a sci-fi franchise along the lines of Star Wars or Terminator (including creator Twohy writing two more screenplays for use if this was successful). As for the movie, I wasn't all that impressed. I think Vin Diesel is a very good actor (as I mentioned before), but the other elements never meshed together (possibly because the filmmakers were keeping some of the plot under wraps to be revealed in the sequel(s)).

As far as this DVD is concerned, it is only for those who really liked the movie. Since I have not seen the theatrical version, I don't know what was added, but as far as I'm concerned it still needed some more work to make this sci-fi adventure even decent.