The Chronicles of Riddick appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a largely satisfying presentation.
Overall definition seemed positive. Occasional wider shots betrayed a little softness, but most of the film felt accurate and well-defined.
I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes felt absent. Print flaws also failed to appear.
Riddick went with a palette that accentuated orange/red with some blue/teal tossed in as well. The hues seemed appropriately rendered given stylistic choices.
Blacks showed good depth and darkness, while low-light shots became smooth and concise. This turned into a high-quality image.
I felt pleased with the DTS-HD MA 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, as 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.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2004 DVD? The lossless audio seemed a bit more dynamic, and visuals looked tighter and smoother, with superior colors and blacks. While the DVD worked fine for its format, the BD offered a clear improvement.
The Blu-ray includes both the film’s theatrical version (1:59:12) as well as an Unrated Director’s Cut (2:14:06). Note that the DVD I reviewed only came with the longer flick.
How does the Director’s Cut expand the original? It adds some violence that doesn’t work for “PG-13”, and it also expands character and narrative areas. None of these make Riddick a good movie, but the longer version does feel more complete.
Alongside the Director’s Cut, we get 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 unrated 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.
The Unrated version of Riddick opens with a 45-second Introduction from Twohy. He simply lets us know that we may notice frame cuts when the material added for the unrated version appears.
Three deleted scenes last a total of eight minutes, two 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 seven-minute, 40-second 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, as 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 nine-minute, 56-second piece that follows the bounty hunter’s path. We see how he came to find Riddick and other aspects of his journey. It’s not great, but it’s cute and will be fun for fans.
Inside Visual Effects Revealed, we find a six-minute, one-second featurette. 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.
Creation of New Mecca spans 11 minutes, 12 seconds and offers info from Twohy, producer Scott Kroopf, executive producer George Zakk, production designer Holger Gross, production illustrator Jim Martin, costume designer Ellen Mirojnick, prop master Tom Tomlinson, visual effects supervisor Ian Hunter, and actors Vin Diesel, Keith David, and Judi Dench.
“Creation” looks at characters, costumes, props and aspects of the New Mecca setting. It becomes a fairly effective overview.
With Riddick Rises, we get a 13-minute, 26-second reel that brings comments from Diesel, Twohy, Zakk, Kroopf, Gross, Davalos, supervising art director Kevin Ishioka, fight coordinator Bradley James Allen, stunt coordinator Bob Brown, and actor Nick Chinlund.
“Rises” covers the lead character, Twohy’s impact on the film, production design, cast, and stunts. Despite a little happy talk, this delivers a mostly engaging piece.
Keep What You Kill fills 17 minutes, 30 seconds with remarks from Twohy, Diesel, Zakk, Kroopf, Urban, Gross, Mirojnick, conceptual artist Matt Codd, costume supervisor Jim Tyson, makeup department head Victoria Down, makeup designer Ve Neill, and actors Colm Feore, Linus Roache, and Thandie Newton.
Here we look at aspects related to the Necromongers. “Keep” echoes the other featurettes and works pretty well.
New to the Blu-ray, U-Control offers the usual interactive affair. This one splits intro four domains: “Picture in Picture”, “Complete Chronicles”, “Chronicles Compendium” and “Anatomy of a Fight”.
Under the “PiP” segments, we get glimpses of pre-viz footage, shots from the set, concept art and comments. We hear from Diesel, Twohy, Kroopf, Gross, Martin, David, Mirojnick, Zakk, Feore, Hunter, Ishioka, Chinlund, and Brown.
Across these comments, we get thoughts about the push toward a sequel, story/character areas, sets and production design, costumes, stunts and action, various effects, cast and performances,
Like many other “PiP” features, this one offers a spotty affair. While it provides some useful material, it also pops up less often than one might prefer. It also repeats some clips from other featurettes, so it becomes good but not great.
With “Complete Chronicles”, we get notes from an unnamed narrator who tells us about aspects of the Riddick character and the series mythology. The notes come accompanied by text and movie shots.
“Chronicles” offers a decent summary of Riddick’s narrative, but as with “PiP”, the clunkiness of the format becomes a problem. This material would work better as a summarizing featurette.
“Compendium” brings a text encyclopedia that provides information about “Races”, “Worlds”, “Beliefs” and “Key Players”. Unlike the other features, the notes found in the “Compendium” don’t change as the movie progresses.
Instead, “Compendium” acts as a consistent resource if the viewer wants to access these details at any point. This creates some useful footnotes, though the text bits themselves tend to feel superficial.
Lastly, “Anatomy” appears six times and simply offers images/text that detail the physical impact of the movie’s violence. That seems like an intriguing concept but it’s not interesting in action.
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.
A sequel to a movie not seen by a lot of people, The Chronicles of Riddick does nothing to create new intrigue. Outside of its appealing visual design, it fails to present enough distinctiveness and creativity to earn it much of an audience. The Blu-ray boasts strong picture and audio along with a nice collection of bonus materials. The movie does little for me, but I can’t complain about this high-quality Blu-ray.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK