The Chronicles of Riddick appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. As one might expect of a recent big-budget flick, Riddick offered positive visuals.
Despite a smidgen of edge enhancement at times, sharpness always remained rock solid. The movie consistently presented excellent clarity and definition. The haloes created slight distractions, but they didn’t make the image soft or ill-defined. I noticed no jagged edges but some mild shimmering occasionally occurred. The movie lacked noticeable source flaws. It came without any defects and remained nicely clean.
Riddick featured a palette that often went for subdued hues. Parts of the film came across as monochromatic, and when it branched into more intense tones, they still stayed fairly cool. Some rich reds provided the biggest evidence of color in this stylized piece. The subdued tones we did see looked very rich and full. Blacks became more important than usual, and the transfer delivered excellent depth and fullness to its dark elements. Low-light shots were clear and smooth. Because of the mild shimmering and edge enhancement, I almost knocked down my grade to a “B+”. However, I thought the flick looked too good to bump it below an “A-“.
No waffling occurred when I determined my ranking for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Chronicles of Riddick, as it firmly earned an “A-”. I expected an assault on my ears and that’s what I usually got. The soundfield consistently used all five channels to good advantage. The mix featured a wide and involving soundstage. Music demonstrated excellent stereo delineation, and the effects popped up all over the spectrum. Those elements showed nice localization and melded together smoothly. The surrounds played a very active role and added quite a lot to the mix. Given the film’s use of so much action, the soundtrack sure gave us many opportunities for involvement, and it never disappointed. This was a vivid and engrossing mix.
Happily, the audio quality lived up expectations as well. Speech consistently came across as warm and natural, and I noticed no signs of edginess or issues with intelligibility. Music could have become lost amidst all the effects, but the score managed to maintain its own personality. The music stayed loud and dynamic, as the track replicated the score with nice clarity and definition. Unsurprisingly, the effects packed a wallop. They were vibrant and accurate, with clear highs and booming bass. Low-end was always tight and firm, as the track exhibited genuinely terrific bass response. The audio lived up to expectations and worked very well.
When we examine the DVD’s extras, we start with an audio commentary from writer/director David Twohy plus actors Karl Urban and Alexa Davalos. Through the wonders of teleconferencing, the commentary offers the impression all three sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion. The piece focuses on locations and sets, with information about the elaborate nature of the latter. We hear a little about casting via stories like the one that explains how they landed Judi Dench. Some story and character notes also appear, along with good details about the differences between the theatrical and director’s cuts.
Those elements are the best part of the commentary, as Twohy aptly lets us know what changes he made for the longer version and why he executed them. Otherwise, this is a pretty bland track. Some of the character/story pieces give us a better appreciation for what Twohy wanted to do, and Urban provides some nice humor and insights into his role. Davalos proves less useful, as she mostly just talks about how great everything was. The commentary definitely suffers from too much happy talk as well as more than a few empty spaces. Parts of it succeed, but as a whole, this is a somewhat dull discussion.
This version of Riddick opens with a 46-second Introduction from Twohy. He simply lets us know that we may notice frame cuts when the material added for the director’s cut appears.
Next we see three deleted scenes. These last a total of eight minutes, three seconds and mostly present exposition that would have appeared early in the flick. The movie provides those notes later, so these were fairly redundant. The exception comes from the final scene, which depicts the death of a major character. It’s actually fairly interesting.
We can watch the scenes with or without comments from Twohy. He tosses out some notes about the sequences and also lets us know why they were cut. The commentary adds to our understanding of the filmmaking process.
With Virtual Guide to The Chronicles of Riddick, we get a piece that offers details about the movie’s various elements. We find out about things like the Necromongers, the Elementals, Helion Prime, and Planet UV; the feature digs into 10 components in all. Some of the information already pops up in the movie, but it offers a nice shorthand way to remind you of the different pieces. A fair amount of new bits help make this more enriching. In a nice touch, all the narration comes from cast members.
After this we locate Toombs’ Chase Log, a piece that follows the bounty hunter’s path. We see how he came to find Riddick and other aspects of his journey in this nine-minute and 55-second featurette. It’s not great, but it’s cute and will be fun for fans.
Riddick Insider: Facts On Demand essentially provides a subtitle commentary. With this feature activated, we learn a little about different aspects of the movie. It covers topics like the characters, the settings, vehicles, and other story elements. We also get notes about the production such as details related to the cast, costumes, sets and effects. Too many gaps without text show up, but the information provided is quite good.
Inside Visual Effects Revealed, we find a six-minute and two-second featurette. It mixes behind the scenes bits with movie clips and interviews. We hear from Twohy, visual effects supervisors Peter Chiang and Mike Wassel, compositing supervisor Sean McPherson, and digital effects supervisor Mike O’Neal. They discuss the execution of visuals like Aereon, a burning man, planet surfaces, set extensions, and CG animals. It’s too short to provide much depth, but it tells us some nice notes.
Riddick’s Worlds offers another interactive feature. It starts with a quick three-minute and five-second “guided tour” of the sets with Vin Diesel. He runs through them so quickly that we don’t get a very good look at them. The “Interactive 360 degree View” works better. It covers eight of the movie’s locations. It’s not all that interactive; basically, we pan left or right to slowly check out the settings. Nonetheless, it lets us inspect them in a satisfying way.
If you have the proper equipment, you can play the XBox Game. I don’t, so I can’t.
The disc opens with a collection of Previews. We find ads for The Bourne Supremacy, the new Billy Madison/Happy Gilmore DVDs, EarthSea, the Riddick videogame, and Drunken Jackasses - The Quest.
At least one Easter egg appears here. From the main menu, click to the left of “Play” and then hit “enter”. This lets you see a 46-second clip in which Colm Feore talks about pretending to be kicked in the head. It’s a slightly interesting piece.
A sequel to a movie not seen by a lot of people, The Chronicles of Riddick seems likely to end the series. It didn’t do well at the box office, and outside of its visual design, it fails to present enough distinctiveness and creativity to earn it much of an audience on DVD. The disc offers very strong picture and sound. The extras are hit or miss, but they add a mix of useful components. Universal brings Riddick to DVD well, but the movie itself doesn’t entertain well enough to merit a recommendation.