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PITCH BLACK was a lean and compact popcorn movie, unlike its sequel, THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK ($30), which is the over-the-top and grandiose. Of course, this is something you can get away with in a Hollywood, sequel, as long as the first film raked in the cash. Despite the fact that THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK tries to build an action/sci-fi franchise on an epic scale, the movie retains a whole lot of the popcorn munching fun contained in the first installment. Sure, THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK tries to shoehorn in far too much plot and back story mythology into the proceedings, but I kind of enjoyed having more to think about than just hungry monsters lurking in the dark.

The premise of THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK picks up the story a number of years after the events of PITCH BLACK. Riddick (Vin Diesel) remains a wanted fugitive, with the latest round of bounty hunters causing him to return to civilization and pay a call on an old acquaintance. Upon his return, Riddick learns of the Necromongers, a race of zealots, who travel across the universe, converting all they encounter to their warrior creed, while those who they cannot convert are slaughtered. Through a bit more exposition, Riddick is apprised that he is part of a prophecy involving the Necromongers, something he neither believes nor wants anything to do with when they come calling. Of course, fate conspires against our anti-hero, for he finds that he is unable to escape destiny. The cast of THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK also features Colm Feore, Thandie Newton, Judi Dench, Karl Urban, Alexa Davalos, Linus Roache, Yorick van Wageningen, Nick Chinlund and Keith David.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation is pretty stellar. Everything appears wonderfully crisp and highly dimensional, plus the image delivers a terrific level of fine detail. Some shots appear a bit softer, but that is usually when live action and CGI are combined. Colors are pretty vibrant, while the flesh tones look realistic. Blacks are dead on perfect and the whites are crisp. Contrast and shadow detail are generally excellent. The elements from which THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK has been mastered are pretty much without flaws. Grain is noticeable, and helps to maintain an organic quality for the presentation.

THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No surprises here, THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK sports the kind of wonderfully overblown action/sci-fi movie sound that one would naturally expect from this type of flick. The sound design is highly aggressive and places the listener in the middle of the action. All of all the outlying channels are well utilized for sound effects placement, as well as allowing for effortless pans throughout the soundstage. Fidelity is outstanding for both the music and sound effects, which come across in a lively, engaging manner. The bass channel packs a wallop and shakes the ground when required. Dialogue is crisply rendered and generally easy to understand. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director David Twohy, as well as actors Alexa Davalos and Karl Urban. Also included is an Introduction By David Twohy. Featurettes include: Virtual Guide To 'The Chronicles Of Riddick, Toomb's Chase Log, Visual Effects Revealed, Creation Of New Mecca, Riddick Rises and Keep What You Kill. Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements (requires a Profile 1.1 player). THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

Sure, THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK is the over-the-top and grandiose in comparison to PITCH BLACK, but fortunately, it has not forgotten its popcorn movie origins. The Blu-ray presentation is stellar. Definitely recommended to the popcorn movie set.



Chronicles of Riddick [Blu-ray] (2004)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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