I loved Pitch Black, it took many of the great features of the Alien series and combined them with a hard, edgy character. much like Ripley in Alien:Resurrection. It also pulled open the confines of the corridors and space ships into an entire planet, populated with insurmountable odds stacked against the useless humans.
Those features endeared me to the movie and made me love the character of Riddick. So it’s somewhat disappointing to see The Chronicles of Riddick and discover that the edge has gone.
The big disappointment for me is that it loses what Pitch Black was all about, and it’s difficult to understand why it does this, but I think it’s down to the scale of the movie. Whereas Pitch Black was small, confined by the darkness, and a few people against a multitude of the same creatures, this movie is all about the galaxy struggling against a huge race of all sorts of creatures converted to one cause. It’s all a bit too big and unfocused.
Another aspect that seems to lose something in the sequel move is of the character Riddick, in this movie he just doesn’t seem so threatening and so dangerous. In Pitch Black he was an unstoppable killing machine who had virtually no morality at all, yet here, he’s portrayed much more as a normal guy with a heart who can fight more than the average guy. Here it really does lose the essence of the original.
That said, he does seem to be able to easily kill these guys, and that’s another thing, they just look like guys in suits. This is nothing compared to the predatory killers of Pitch Black. So again not only is Riddick’s cold blooded unstoppable killer status lowered, but so is the ferociousness of the enemy, where they instead rely on huge spaceships and overwhelming force.
Saying that, the scenes of the ships and conquering force appearing are visually superb, and that carries through all the effects of the movie, they are believable and highly engaging, totally immersing you in the universe. They don’t stand out either, so that when you cut to a small set scene in the city streets, you aren’t suddenly wrenched from one style to another. They are very well done, and combined with some of the action sequences, they make for some stunning scenes.
Yet the action sequences are also a point of contention with me, for the trend of zooming the camera into the action and performing multiple fast cuts, is getting out of hand in Hollywood and it’s destroying movies with fight scenes. This is one reason why movies such as Ong Bak are working so well nowadays. It’s especially prevalent in this movie, and despite the added attraction of Vin Diesel having learnt some of the moves in the art of double knife fighting (it has some specific name which I can’t actually remember), yet for all that we see nothing in these fight sequences, and I really mean nothing.
The one plot aspect that really did make me wonder why was the addition of a mini-Riddick in the guise of the recast role of Jack. It seemed a poor plot device that she had grown to be just like him and that he had sacrificed his entire life to protect her. This is a huge change from his original character who would have left any of them to die in Pitch Black, had it not been for an affinity with the pilot Fry and a feeling of obligation.
However much this character has changed, Diesel is excellent as Riddick and it is a character I would like to see again, although much more in the Pitch Black style of the character. This film definitely needed more focus on that character.
Presented: 2.35:1 Anamorphic
The picture is superb, there’s no real difference to tell between the CGI aspects and the real scenes with the mood being matched well between both. The cinematography of both is excellent, although heavily let down in the fight scenes, the opening attack on the planet is quite stunning.
Presented: Dolby Digital 5.1
I would have loved for a DTS track on this movie, whatever version, however the 5.1 is bold and competent. Plenty of LFE mix and base kicking in with good use of the spatial aspects of 5.1. It was very good and loud audio track.
Presented: Insider Facts movie view, Behind the Scenes tour with Vin Diesel, Audio log of Toombs chase of Riddick, Interactive Guide to the universe of the movie, Playable XBox Demo of the videogame, Easter Egg.
The menu presentation on the DVD is very good, and the dual options are a nice touch, although confusing as you expect to see different content on each, yet it’s the same.
Insider Facts movie view – This is a feature you can see more and more of on DVD’s with a bunch of extras, it can be an interesting addition to the movie giving you facts and information about the production, background information on characters and events in the movie, and even real life facts relating what you’re watching. In this movie it’s pretty well done and gives you a lot of information about the universe in which the story is set, a lot of additional background information which actually proves quite interesting.
Behind the Scenes tour with Vin Diesel – All too short, and quite uninspiring. Being whisked through sets to be told this is where we filmed…then raced on. A space filler if ever I saw one.
Audio log of Toombs chase of Riddick – Again, another space filler for hardcore fans only. I found this very dull and painful to watch the repetitive video, never mind the droning audio.
Interactive Guide to the universe of the movie – This was quite interesting, and provided some facts and knowledge around the characters and races involved in the movie. It was a dip in and dip out feature for me though, and I suspect would again only appeal to the hardcore fans.
Playable XBox Demo of the videogame – Having this game already I didn’t investigate this too much, but it’s a great inclusion. Just wish it was the whole game!
Easter Egg – A nice little hidden egg provides some more behind the scenes footage.
The movie is a great sci-fi \ action epic, and it’s very enjoyable entertainment presented in a visually stunning style. You truly appreciate the size and scope of this movie, and it does make you want to see more of Riddick. However it doesn’t stay true to the original characterisation for me, and I felt this was a poor aspect of the movie, it really did lose what Riddick was all about.
The DVD is a good package, although you really have to like the movie to sit through many of these extras. The inclusion of the game demo is a great cross marketing ploy, but also gives the viewer some extra lifetime on their purchase.