The Chronicles of Riddick Review
The Chronicles of Riddick Special Edition (Directors Cut) finally arrives on Region 2 after having been available in the US since late last year. I'll come clean and admit that not only have I not seen the cinematic or standard DVD release of the Chronicles of Riddick, but I haven't even seen Pitch Black, the prequel, so my review of this movie will be unbiased at the very least! Although I haven't seen either movie, I wasn't going into this movie completely blind - I'd played the video-game and I knew the general plot of the first movie and of Riddick's character and abilities. I'm pleased to report that my enjoyment of the second movie was not spoilt by not having seen Pitch Black first, in fact quite the opposite, it has now made me want to seek it out and see what I missed!
I wont reinvent the wheel, as our own Cas Harlow had already provided a fantastically detailed review of the Japanese R2 version elsewhere on this site. Instead, I shall focus on my impression of the movie as a newcomer to the franchise. Whereas Pitch Black was more of an action adventure, taking inspiration from the Alien series amongst others, the Chronicles of Riddick certainly feels like an attempt to open up a world and multiple story lines. Perhaps they've taken inspiration from the Star Wars franchise, but the Chronicles of Riddick does seem strong enough to support multiple sequels, animations, video games etc. Most of this is down to the strength of the Riddick character himself thanks to Vin Diesel. I'm not sure whether Mr. Diesel has been type-cast or if he has a range of different characters that we haven't yet seen in his various acting roles, but either way, he's great as the minimalistic, broody action anti-hero. He certainly knows how to fill the role of a character like Riddick and the fact that he co-produced this movie shows that there is more to him than just muscle.This movie did not receive very good press when originally released and I was aware of this before watching the movie - however as is often the case, I sat down expecting the worst, but really enjoyed it, perhaps because it wasn't as bad I'd expected. I was pleased to see some new blood in the world of sci-fi, having been bombarded with Matrix and Star Wars sequels and spin-offs over the last few years. There is a strong hero, a fantastically over the top set of bad-guys and a surprisingly strong supporting cast (including Dame Judy Dench no less). I haven't seen the theatrical release so I can't comment as to whether the extra footage of the directors cut enhanced the film, but apart from a few glitches where the new scenes were spliced in, I didn't notice any tell tale signs such as scenes that didn't fit the pacing of the movie, as can sometimes happen with directors cuts.
All in all, Chronicles of Riddick Directors Cut is an enjoyable movie and one which has left me not only wanting to catch up with the prequel Pitch Black, but also looking forward to any future sequels that might come along, so from a complete newcomer to the series, it's a thumbs-up!