Chronicles of Riddick, The: Director's Cut (HD DVD) (2004)

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Released 6-Jun-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction-English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Introduction-Introduction by Director David Thowy
Audio Commentary-With Director David Thowy, Karl Urban and Alexa Davalos
Featurette-Virtual Guide to the Chronicles of Riddick (10 Video Clips)
Featurette-Toombs' Chase Log (10 min)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Visual Effects Revealed (6 min)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes- Vin Diesel Guided Tour (3 min)
Deleted Scenes-Three Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary (8 min)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Creation of New Mecca (11 min)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Riddick Rises (13 min)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Keep What You Kill (17 min)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 134:48
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By David Twohy
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Vin Diesel
Colm Feore
Thandie Newton
Judi Dench
Karl Urban
Alexa Davalos
Linus Roache
Yorick van Wageningen
Nick Chinlund
Keith David
Mark Gibbon
Roger R. Cross
Terry Chen
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $39.95 Music Dominik Hauser
Graeme Revell
Tim Simonec


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
German Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Swedish
Danish
Finnish
Dutch
Norwegian
Portuguese
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

David Twohy’s Pitch Black (2000) is the film which introduced mainstream audiences to actor, writer, director and producer Vin Diesel. With his baritone voice, muscular physique and shaved head, Diesel proved to have a striking screen presence, particularly in the action-adventure genre of film. However, before Diesel become the action hero of The Fast and the Furious (2001), xXx (2002) and A Man Apart (2003), Diesel appeared in Saving Private Ryan (1998) as Private Caparzo and the Wall Street (1987) homage Boiler Room (2000), and also provided the voice for the title character of The Iron Giant (1999).

In recent years Diesel has attempted to avoid being typecast by appearing in the Walt Disney crowd pleaser The Pacifier (2005), and Sidney Lumet’s engaging fact-based court-room drama Find Me Guilty (2006). Yet audiences and critics seem most content when Diesel is in the familiar territory of the anti-hero against a merciless backdrop.

Diesel’s best known anti-hero, the spiritual Furyan warrior Richard B. Riddick, is a character who appeared in Pitch Black, Peter Chung’s The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (2004) and the sequel to Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick (2004). The character of Riddick has also appeared in the successful videogame The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (2004) which is a prequel to Pitch Black, and the forthcoming videogame The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena (2007).

Twohy returned to the director’s chair for The Chronicles of Riddick and unlike the film’s predecessor which was a moderately budgeted sleeper hit, Riddick is a grand Hollywood production. The film stars A-list actresses’ Thandie Newton and Judi Dench, features elaborate futuristic costumes designed by Michael Dennison and Ellen Mirojnick, includes Holger Gross’ (Stargate (2004)) majestic production design and state of the art special and visual effects. Furthermore Vin Diesel returned to the franchise on the back of the success of The Fast and the Furious (2001) and xXx (2002), and with the actor’s name boldly etched over the title of the film on the theatrical poster, Diesel became the center of the franchise.

Set five years after the events of Pitch Black, escaped convict Riddick (Vin Diesel) now aimlessly wanders the ends of the galaxy. But Riddick is forced out of his self-imposed exile after the smug Bounty hunter Toombs (Nick Chinlund) unsuccessful tried to capture him. Riddick then steals Toombs’ ship and heads to Helion Prime in search of who placed the bounty on his head. During the journey while in cryosleep Riddick is plagued with visions of the otherworldly Shira (Kristin Lehman).

After arriving in Helion Prime, Riddick reunites with Imam (Keith David) a man he once saved, and learns Jack has been imprisoned on a the prison planet Crematoria for murder. Furthermore Riddick finds himself in the middle of an imminent war, as Helion Prime is about to be invaded by the Necromonger army, a semi-robotic race with the objective of galactic domination. The Necromonger army is led by the depraved Lord Marshal (Colm Feore) and he will slaughter whoever does not covert to his cause.

After the Necromonger army cause mass devastation on Helion Prime, Riddick is forced to discover his origins as he fights to survive and save a chosen few.

Unlike Pitch Black which was a character based thriller, The Chronicles of Riddick is a visually stunning high concept action adventure film. The film is held together with the mysterious and menacing character of Riddick and Vin Diesel brings charisma to the anti-heroic role. Alongside the main cast, actors Karl Urban, Linus Roache and Alexa Davalos are a welcome presence.

The differences between the theatrical cut and the director’s cut of The Chronicles of Riddick can be identified; the director’s cut introduces and develops the character of Shira, there are a number of extended scenes which introduce sub-plots (i.e. Furyan energy and Furya), the fight scenes which were initially edited to obtain a MPAA rating of PG-13 in the US are fully restored and the ending is more abrupt.

While the film does not radically differ from the theatrical cut, the director’s cut is more coherent and fans will be pleased to see the film as the director intended. Ultimately The Chronicles of Riddick is a grand sci-fi adventure and while the plot is paper thin, Vin Diesel and the stunning visual effects should keep audiences entertained.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The Chronicles of Riddick has been previously released on two occasions on standard DVD. Both the theatrical DVD release and director’s cut DVD had commendable transfers.

With the HD DVD, the transfer is again praiseworthy in contrast with standard DVD transfers however, in comparison with other high definition transfers unfortunately it is a hit and miss.

The transfer for The Chronicles of Riddick is encoded on a HD-30 Dual-Layer Disc in High Definition 1080p resolution using VC-1 compression.

The Chronicles of Riddick is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 wide-screen and it is 16x9 enhanced.

According to IMDB The Chronicles of Riddick was shot on film but the transfer was created from a digital intermediate scanned from the original film negative.

As you can see from the above screen-shot from the standard DVD transfer, the spaceship, the surface of the tunnel and the snow have limited detail. Overall the image while it is satisfactory, it is not particularly detailed.

On the HD DVD transfer, the same gritty opening scenes of the high speed chase on the ice planet of UV 6 are remarkable; this sequence immediately demonstrates the quality of the transfer; the white snow is harsh and detailed and the intricate rugged surfaces of the darkened tunnels are perceptible. Also the use of colour manipulation is lively and more of a pale mauve tint while the black levels are clear and the shadow detail is perfect.

Ultimately Twohy’s unique and hyper-kinetic vision is exhibited well with the sharp and defined transfer. The look of the film utilises heavy digital colour manipulation alongside dimly lit cinematography and frantic camera framing during the action sequences. All these qualities are clear and evident as the transfer is free of the usual video artefacts such as aliasing, edge enhancement and interlacing.

However the HD DVD transfer is somewhat of a hit and miss; for example the earthy warm environments of the Helion Prime feature many CGI backdrops, and at times these images unfortunately look flat and filtered.

Unfortunately I am unable to find out the encoding bit-rate of the transfer and this would have been interesting to know considering the number of audio soundtracks available on the region free HD DVD.

Also as the HD DVD is the very same product from Europe (the disc itself has European classifications) there are a number of subtitle options. Each of these options appear in a clear large Arial font and are true to the on screen action. The subtitles unique to the film are burnt onto the print as theatrically intended.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

As mentioned there are a number of audio options available in the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 format.

The increased bit rate of the audio soundtracks are immediately noticeable as the soundtracks prove to be aggressive yet crisp, creating a volatile environment.

As first-rate sound design is essential to films of the science fiction genre, no detail has be spared by the award-winning sound designers Byran Bowen, Harry Cohen, Ann Scibelli, Jon Title and Peter Zinda.

With the larger budget and extravagant script the soundtrack is more about intensity and volatility rather then building suspense and tension. In this respect, the sound design truly reflects the films extraordinary environments with excellent dynamic range as well as a great usage of the subwoofer. Equally the dialogue and narration is clear and focused at the front of the sound stage and with the clear ‘whiz-bang’ sound effects the whole audio experience is enveloping and intense. Even the few ‘quiet’ dialogue-driven scenes feature low level atmospheric sound effects.

The original music score is provided by New Zealand film composer Graeme Revell (The Crow (1994), The Saint (1997), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Daredevil (2003), Sin City (2005)). Revell’s score is grand and imposing and accompanies the imaginative visuals of the film very well.

All the elements of the soundtrack are mixed increasingly well with excellent channel separation and although the absence of a TrueHD Dolby mix is a disappointment, the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 soundtracks prove to be an excellent home theatre experience.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

As mentioned, The Chronicles of Riddick has had a few lives on DVD and the HD DVD contains almost all the extras available on those releases, plus 3 documentaries which were available on the limited R1 3 disc set of the Unrated Director’s Cut.

Main Menu Introduction

Immediately after start up, the user is asked to select a language as the main menu is offered in various languages. This option is unique to Australian and European HD DVDs. The main menu can be accessed in the following languages; English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

The main menu is animated with scenes from the film and features a section of the score. The design of the main menu is well themed to the visual style of the film. The navigation system for HD DVD is different to that offered on a standard DVD. The menu appears on the left half of the screen and can be accessed during the film without interrupting playback. The menu features direct access to the language and subtitle options, twenty-eight scene selections as well as the extra feature content. The menu is reliable and did not cause any errors despite constant switching of soundtrack languages, subtitles, scene selections and extras.

Screen Saver

A Universal logo appears if the main menu is left on rotation.

The following extras are presented in Standard Definition video with MPEG-2 compression.

Introduction

Director David Thowy provides a brief introduction to the directors cut and explains how inserting the odd 16 minutes of new footage in various scenes resulted in ‘jump-cuts’ in this version of the film.

This feature also appeared on the director’s cut of The Chronicles of Riddick.

Audio Commentary with Director David Thowy, Karl Urban and Alexa Davalos

The audio commentary unfortunately is not enlightening and out of the three participants Thowy speaks more then the actors who were recorded in London. The director who was recorded in New Zealand is forthcoming regarding this cut of the film and he explains the changes and what scenes worked and what didn’t. Behind the scenes production background is also mentioned, as well as why the sequel is different from the predecessor. The other participants are mostly congratulatory towards their absent co star Vin Diesel. The commentary overall is of an average quality.

This is the same commentary which appeared on the director’s cut of The Chronicles of Riddick.

Virtual Guide to the Chronicles of Riddick

This is an interactive feature which includes narration provided by the characters Toombs, Dame Vaako, the Lord Marshal, Kyra, Imam and Aereon who all explain their worlds.

This series of video clips original appeared on the theatrical DVD release of The Chronicles of Riddick.

Toombs' Chase Log

This feature is in the same vein as the Virtual Guide, as it is essentially a back story. It features the character of Toombs recalling his 92 day pursuit of Riddick. This feature can be accessed either as eighteen short extracts or one 10 minute feature.

This feature also appeared on the theatrical DVD release of The Chronicles of Riddick.

Visual Effects Revealed

This short six minute feature includes Writer/Director David Twohy, visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang, Sean McPherson, Mike O’Neal and Mike Wassell of Rhythm and Hues. The filmmakers detail the creation of Crematoria, Hellhounds, the Visible Thermal Front and the Elemental effects.

This feature also appeared on the theatrical DVD release of The Chronicles of Riddick.

Vin Diesel Guided Tour

An out of character and enthusiastic Vin Diesel guides the audience around the massive and impressive sets of the film.

This feature also appeared on the theatrical DVD release of The Chronicles of Riddick.

The 8 interactive 360º photographs of the film sets which accompanied this feature on the original theatrical DVD release of The Chronicles of Riddick are not included.

Three Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary

The two deleted scenes and one alternate scene are titled Aereon and Iman on Helion, Original Planet UV and Toombs demise are all included with optional commentary provided by Writer/Director David Twohy.

The following behind the scenes featurettes originally appeared on a limited release of the R1 director’s cut of The Chronicles of Riddick. The following three featurettes were included on a bonus 3rd DVD, although one featurette titled Interactive Production Calendar from that release has been omitted from the HD DVD release. These features are best described as standard Electronic Press Kit (EPK) supplements.

Creation of New Mecca

This 11 minute featurette is focused on the inspiration, conception and construction of the futuristic worlds of The Chronicles of Riddick.

Twohy also mentions he would like to continue writing and directing the franchise.

Riddick Rises

The 13 minute featurette is focused on the character of Riddick, the character's origins, training and weapons. This featurette includes the participation Twohy and Diesel.

Keep What You Kill

The final 17 minute featurette reveals the back-story of the villainous Necromonger Empire and their strategies and weapons. Again Twohy participates in this featurette.

Despite the number of extras available on this release, a few are still omitted; these include the Riddick Insider subtitle fact track, the theatrical trailer and also The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay-X-Box demo which appeared on the original theatrical DVD release of The Chronicles of Riddick .

Censorship

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R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

As mentioned the Australian HD DVD release is identical to the European release.

The American HD DVD includes the same extras and technical specifications.

The only minor differences are the Australian HD DVD includes more Dolby Digital Plus soundtracks (Italian Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 and German Dolby Digital Plus 5.1) and subtitle options (Italian, German, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese).

The American HD DVD release includes an English DTS 5.1 soundtrack option which is omitted from the Australian release.

Summary

The Chronicles of Riddick is a Hollywood spectacle; it is audacious and boisterous, and certainly enjoyable.

The film is visually stunning and in comparison with the standard DVD the obvious differences of the high definition format are perceptible.

The picture quality is clearer, crisper and lively, yet in comparison with other high definition transfers The Chronicles of Riddick is a hit and miss; some scenes are noteworthy and remarkable, while others seem flat and filtered.

The accompanying soundtrack options are lively and energetic, although the absence of a TrueHD Dolby mix is a disappointment.

A range of extra features are available, although most have been derived from the two standard DVD releases of the film.

The extras range from superfluous to short interesting behind the scene pieces.

It would have been interesting to see the range of extra features placed into a U-Control picture in picture commentary similar to Universal’s Miami Vice HD DVD.

Overall The Chronicles of Riddick HD DVD is a quality release.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba HD-A1, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Interesting - The Face of Bo REPLY POSTED
Reviewers Equipment may be the issue.... - Anonymous
Re: Reviewer's Equipment - Anonymous
A bit picky.....You may want to check your facts. - Anonymous