BLU-RAY REVIEW: Riddick
Vin Diesel Returns As The Galaxy's Most Wanted Convict...
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Vin Diesel has always been one of my favorite action stars. From his breakout role in 1998's Saving Private Ryan and his voicing the robot in 1999's The Iron Giant to his ongoing roles in The Fast and the Furious and, perhaps the favorite of sci-fi fans, The Chronicles of Riddick, to include 2000's Pitch Black, 2004's The Chronicles of Riddick and The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury and 2013's Riddick, now available on home video.
The brainchild of David Twohy, whose other work includes 1996's The Arrival and 2002's Below, Richard B. Riddick - as played by Vin Diesel - makes for one of the most memorable if not eclectic and eccentric characters in all of sci-fi. He's been a soldier, a mercenary, a pilot, a security forces specialist, a convict. But he is first and foremost a Furyan, one of the last of a warrior race destined for greatness. He's persistent, disgruntled, and angry...yet Riddick has a heart of gold underneath an exterior of armor and scars. And it's because of these traits Riddick is such a captivating character.
Enter 2013's Riddick, which returns the saga to its sci-fi thriller roots. When last we saw Riddick, he was on the thrown of the Necromorphs, reigning supreme over a group of alien warriors, dismayed and lonely as ever. Searching for his home world of Furya, Riddick finds himself betrayed by his Necromorph warriors and abandoned on a desolate rock. Seeking a ride off-planet, Riddick turns on a distress beacon and soon finds two different groups of mercenaries seeking his death. Of course, they'll have to compete with the alien beasts and torrential weather for Riddick's head. Thus, together with the same men who want to collect the bounty on his head, Riddick must survive a stormy night filled with viscous creatures the likes of which none of them have ever seen; none but Riddick.
Similar in style and pace to Pitch Black, the first film in the series Riddick does an outstanding job of both keeping the series alive as well as introducing new fans to the now classic character. While Riddick might seem a bit too similar to Pitch Black for some casual fans, most should find it engaging and fun thanks to the new characters, new beasts, and the plot twists which actually relate back to the original film itself. With a variety of new bounty hunters and a new best friend for Riddick, this new film continues to expand the series' mythos and explore a character who, at his core, is heroic, thoughtful and even a bit caring...in the right context.
The film beautifully comes to life with a gorgeous 1080p video transfer. The video impresses with awesome contrast, the dirty, sandy color pallet captured beautifully. Likewise, the English DTS-HD 5.1 surround track features impressive dynamics across the full sound field. Dialogue is crisp and clean from the front speakers as viewers hear boulders tumbling and crashing, gunshots cracking, bones snapping and monsters screeching - all impressively filling the surrounding speakers.
As for bonus material, the Blu-ray includes both the theatrical version (119 minutes) and an uncut version of the film (127 minutes) which features an additional 8 minutes of content. The new content will impress die-hard fans as it explores more of the Necromonger culture, which is a plus. Other bonuses include the 6-minute "The Twohy Touch," which addresses the questions "Why another Riddick movie?" and explores the project's development; the 10-minute "Riddickian Tech," which explores the weapons, vehicles and future tech seen throughout the film series; the 9-minute "Vin's Riddick," which explores Vin's favorite antihero; the 11-minute "Meet the Mercs," which introduces the monster fodder of the film; the 11-minute "The World of Riddick," which explores the film's setting and finally the 5-minute "Riddick: Blindsided," a short promo comic.
Overall, there's nothing else out there like David Twohy's Riddick and the man who brings the soldier-turned-convict-turned-Lord Marshall-turned-renegade warrior to life. Vin Diesel personifies the antihero in his titular role here and there's no better antihero captured on film than Richard B. Riddick.
Riddick is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley