The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Virtual Guide To The Chronicles Of Riddick
Featurette-Toombs' Chase Log
Informational Subtitles-Riddick Insider
Featurette-Visual Effects Revealed
Trailer-Chronicles Of Riddick: Pitch Black-Special Edition
Trailer-Chronicles Of Riddick: Dark Fury
Trailer-Van Helsing, The Bourne Supremacy
|Year Of Production||2004|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (68:34)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||David Twohy|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I recently reviewed the precursor to this movie - The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black and that review can be found here. As I stated in that review, I have always found Pitch Black to be a great little movie, and one which I enjoyed revisiting after a couple of years. I also reviewed the animated feature, The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury which was set between Pitch Black and this latest live action number. I also found that to be a surprisingly accomplished piece and a nice, if brief, follow-on from the first film.
Given that the critical reception of The Chronicles of Riddick was not exactly overwhelming, it was with some trepidation that I approached this DVD review. Let me tell you, I'm delighted to report that fans of the first film should not be disappointed by this latest instalment - I was really rather impressed, and can thoroughly recommend it.
As the film begins, we see a mercenary ship chasing a bearded and dreadlocked man across an icy wasteland. Inside the ship is the bounty hunter first introduced in Dark Fury - one Toombs (Nick Chinlund looking eerily like Tom Waits) and his crew of fellow bounty hunters. After a furious, and very exciting chase, the prey is revealed to be none other than our favourite murderer - Riddick (Vin Diesel). When Riddick manages to outsmart and overpower Toombs, he determines to find who has placed the bounty on his head this time around. Toombs is unable to tell him for certain, but points him to the planet of Helion Prime.
On arriving at Helion Prime, Riddick is reintroduced to an old friend - the holy man Imam (Keith David) he rescued from the nocturnal, carnivorous creatures in Pitch Black. The other survivor of that earlier adventure is now imprisoned on an unknown planet after Jack (Alexa Davalos) killed several people in her search to find her saviour, the elusive Riddick. Imam introduces Riddick to the mysterious elemental Aereon (Judi Dench), who it transpires is the one who put the bounty on his head.
Aereon tells Riddick of a cruel and unstoppable foe named the Necromongers. These interplanetary storm troopers seem hell-bent on galactic domination. They travel from planet to planet, wielding a massive and unflinching military might. Their objective is to convert everyone in the galaxy to their faith...or to kill them if they refuse. It seems that the prophesies tell of a member of the Furyan race who will rise up and defeat the Necromongers...and she believes Riddick to be the one. Of course, being the self-serving criminal that he is, Riddick is not interested and declines to help. Then the Necromongers arrive on Helion Prime, and they simply refuse to knock before entering...
This film was always intended to be much more of an action movie than its predecessor, and it delivers action aplenty. There is no horror element to this movie, but there remains a very credible sc-fi world with some truly wonderful planets and factions inhabiting that world. There has been some criticism of the over-use of CGI effects in recent big-budget movies, and I fully sympathise with that criticism (the truly awful effects in Hulk for instance). Chronicles has been tarred with the same brush, though I cannot help but disagree. I was totally blown away by the quality of set and costume design in this film. The armour, weaponry and most impressive of all, the space craft, are truly inspired. The Necromongers make for the most fearsome sci-fi enemies this side of Darth Vader and his pals. The CGI effects were very, very well integrated with only a couple of minor lapses (the big cat creatures in the prison just didn't quite cut it). The effects used during the climactic fight scenes are just marvellous (if a tad X-Men 2 in nature).
The plot of Chronicles too, has been criticised for a lack of coherence and credibility. Once again, I disagree. I found the story to be well developed and the characters all nicely fleshed out. Fans of the Riddick character will not be disappointed with Diesel's outing here - he seems to have been born to play the part of Richard B. Riddick. The gorgeous Thandie Newton puts in a sexy appearance as Dame Vaako and Judi Dench is great as the enigmatic Aereon. The Chronicles of Riddick is a genuinely entertaining, stylish and action-packed popcorn flick which I can highly recommend for a rental at the very least.
The overall video transfer is extremely good, and generally approaches reference quality.
The movie is presented anamorphically enhanced at 2.39:1 which is identical to the original theatrical aspect ratio.
The image is generally wonderfully sharp, although there are a couple of scenes where I felt a hint of softness just crept in. There is nothing in the way of significant grain present in what is overall a very impressive transfer.
Black levels are coal mine deep and without a trace of low level noise. Shadow detail is almost always excellent, with only the rarest of occasions when I wished there was a bit more detail on offer. Colours are solidly rendered with no sign of colour bleeding. The palette is once again unusual, with plenty of different lighting hues used to help differentiate the various planets visited on Riddick's journey. These are not as extreme as in the first film, and it may therefore appear to be a little less stylish this time around. The marvellous costume and set design more than makes up for that however. Skin tones sometimes look a little unnatural because of the lighting, but not through any fault of the transfer - rather by artistic choice.
I noticed no issues with MPEG compression artefacts. Aliasing was totally absent on my system (although it is occasionally visible on my PC) and I did not once feel the need to complain about edge enhancement. There is no evidence of telecine wobble.
I did not notice any film artefacts through the movie, and this is - perhaps unsurprisingly given the recent vintage - a very clean transfer indeed.
The English subtitles are very clear and well timed. They provide attribution for off-screen dialogue and a helpful range of audio cues.
The disc is in a single sided and dual layered (RSDL) format with the brief layer change almost unnoticeable at 68:34.
The audio transfer is very good indeed.
The sole English audio track for the movie is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix encoded at 384 kbps. Despite not being at the maximum bit rate, it delivers a very visceral and satisfying aural experience. It is free from major defects in the way of distortion, hiss or pops.
The dialogue is always clear and well located in the centre channel for the main part. I noticed no problems with audio sync.
Original music is once again attributed to Graham Revell (Freddy vs Jason and Pitch Black). It is a very rousing score, perfectly suited to the militaristic action on the screen - it would be equally fitting in Gladiator or Troy for the most part. It helps to build suspense at the appropriate points (the sun rising on Crematoria, the advance of the Necromonger forces and so on). I realise that I always enjoy Revell's work - and this score is no exception.
The movie enjoys a very active soundstage. The front speakers deliver a consistently wide spread of noise with some very nice separation between the three main speakers. The surround speakers are used almost non-stop, whether to support the rousing score or in providing a more subtle ambience. There is a also significant use of front-to-rear pans, great swirling surround effects and some lovely direction and locational effects.
There is some very strong, visceral LFE activity present that helps to make the most of your subwoofer. The deep bass present from the engines of the spacecraft are reminiscent of the early scenes in Star Wars Episode II and there is frequent use made of the sub during the barrage of sound in the many battle scenes. Very good stuff.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are a number of extras present, but they are not of the greatest value. Wanna bet we see a "Special Edition" sometime soon?
The anamorphically 1.78:1 enhanced menus are impressively realised, with great animation and nice sound effects. There are two options provided on the very first menu - "Convert" or "Fight". Choosing either option ultimately leads to identical extra features, but gives a different backdrop - and the Easter Egg is hidden in a different location on each. They offer the options of playing the film, selecting one of a healthy twenty-eight chapter stops, activating the subtitles, or viewing the following extra features:
A series of video clips presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 kbps) narration by Toombs and other characters, which explain some of the background to the world of Chronicles. We are thoughtfully provided with a "Play All" option:
A collection of eighteen short "diary extracts" by Nick Chinlund (Toombs), telling of his voyage to recapture Riddick. They play in sequence and run for 9:59 in total. They are presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.
An enjoyable and informative information track, which pops up little text bubbles of trivia about the film as it plays. Well worth having turned on for your second viewing of the movie.
A fairly short (6:03), but interesting, piece that illustrates how some of the special effects and location designs were arrived at. Presented at 1.33:1 with letterboxed inserts and a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.
A number of featurettes which offer a look behind the scenes of The Chronicles of Riddick. In the first, Vin Diesel's Guided Tour, young Vinnie talks us through the sets in live action footage running for 3:12. The remainder of the scenes are 360 degree "interactive" photographs...hmmm. They are all presented at 1.33:1.
The following trailers are offered:
Who knows? I refuse to install that awful Interactual player yet again to find out.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
At the time of writing, the Region 1 disc has not yet been released. From research, the Region 1 release of this DVD appears to contain a few additional features, beyond the normal subtitle and language variations:Compared to the Region 1 (Director's Cut) release, the Region 4 version may miss out on:
It looks like the Region 1 version may be better for die-hard fans.
The Chronicles of Riddick is a solid, genuinely rather entertaining follow up to Pitch Black. I don't care what the critics said - this is an entertaining sci-fi action flick, with good characters, a good plot and some marvellous set design. When Richard B. Riddick finds himself on Helion Prime, looking for the person who put a million dollar (plus) bounty on his head, the worst has yet to come. The Nazi style Necromongers are trying to overrun the galaxy...can anyone stop them? A thoroughly enjoyable popcorn flick is given a great transfer and a couple of half-decent extras. Sit back and enjoy the spectacle.
The video transfer is close to reference quality.
The audio transfer is excellent.
Extras are not as worthwhile as I had hoped - but not terrible either.
|DVD||Momitsu V880 upconverting DVI player, using DVI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES|
|Speakers||JensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer|