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January 19, 2014
Riddick Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
12/9/201315/1/2014Village RoadshowDavid Twohy
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Vin Diesel


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Riddick now has a pet to play with!

Vin Diesel's Riddick character has gone through an interesting film history. The first film Pitch Black was shot in Australia on a modest $US23 million budget and made a bit over double that amount at the box office. The second film, The Chronicles of Riddick, saw a massive jump in scale, and budget to $US105 million and only made $115 million at the box office worldwide. The franchise was effectively dead - so much so that Vin Diesel obtained the rights to Riddick for doing a cameo in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. So this is the third film in the franchise but the only way it could be made was for Vin Diesel to pour most of his money, and his house, into this film and we're glad he did as Riddick is a pretty entertaining film that has a lot going for it.

Riddick tells the story of a dangerous, escaped convict wanted by every bounty hunter in the known galaxy, Riddick. He has been left for dead on a sun-scorched planet that appears to be lifeless. Soon, however, he finds himself fighting for survival against alien predators more lethal than any human he's encountered. The only way off is for him to activate an emergency beacon and alert mercenaries who rapidly descend to the planet in search of their bounty. With time running out and a deadly storm on the horizon that no one could survive, his hunters won't leave the planet without Riddick's head as their trophy.

First of all we need to point out that we are reviewing the Standard Edition Blu-Ray release - there is also an Extended Directors Cut on Blu-Ray which, according to IMDB, adds around 7 minutes of footage. It is somewhat baffling as to why there are two releases - has seamless branching stopped working suddenly for two versions of films on a single disc? In any case we are reviewing the Theatrical version on Blu-Ray.

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Riddick has some visually gorgeous scenery.
While being a fan of Vin Diesel the Riddick franchise is one which has left me in two minds. I'm not a horror fan so avoided Pitch Black at the theatres, but enjoyed it on DVD when it came out. The second film went in a different direction and while I loved the artistic style and set design, the story left something wanting. This third film has a tone much similar to the first which is a good thing, but it's really a film with two distinct halves.

The film begins with Riddick stuck on an unknown planet, alone, and battling to survive. While it is later detailed how he got to the planet in a brief flashback, the fact is he's alone, surrounded by deadly creatures, and learning how to live off the land. Soon enough he becomes friendly with a wild jackal/dog who soon becomes his companion in the, we suspect, years that pass (unless the local wildlife grows at a very quick rate). Soon enough though a storm approaches which has the potential to bring with it something much more deadly then rain. Riddick's only chance is to send a distress signal which will bring in mercenaries to the planet to collect the bounty on Riddick's head. The only chance for Riddick is to survive the mercenaries, and steal one of their ships.

The mercenaries here are varied enough to be of interest with the highlights being Jordi Mollą as Santana, Dave Batista as Diaz, Matt Nable as Johns (and who many would recognise from Australia's Underbelly: Badness TV series) and the only female in the film Katee Sackhoff as Dahl. Each put in pretty entertaining performances although at times the dialogue is a bit corny and bland particularly around Dahl's sexuality or sexual activity. Take the following exchange "Why am I not loving this plan so far? Oh, I know, I know. Because it sucks ass and swallows! I'm not taking orders from your pet whore who think I won't smack her right back." to which Dahl replies with "I don't fuck guys. Occasionally I fuck 'em up if they need it." Later in the film there's another exchange "If Riddick comes back here without us, you go ahead, you kill him on general principle" to which Dahl replies with "Is that before or after I'm supposed to fuck him?" It's just not great writing in places and puts too much emphasis on Dahl's sexual prowess - we never got lines like this in films such as Alien, Resident Evil or Terminator 2 which have strong, almost solo, female lead characters.

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It's the guy with the "fucked up face".
Occasional poor dialogue ignored, this is otherwise a pretty entertaining film with some good action sequences, some humorous moments and some edge of the seat stuff. If you're a fan of the Riddick character then this is a sequel worth checking out.

As we've said before reviewing Blu-Ray releases is becoming somewhat dull when it comes to describing the video quality. Now that almost every studio is using the AVC MPEG-4 video codec - barring the occasional VC-1 release - and that the Blu-Ray format is approaching a decade in age it's rare to find a disc that disappoints, and when they do, more often then not it's the source material rather then the video encoding. As a film releases theatrically only months ago it will therefor come as little surprise to hear that Riddick is a gorgeous release on Blu-Ray.

Our PS3 is showing a video bitrate often sitting well above 30Mbps and it allows plenty of fine detail at all times - and given the amount of darkness, and deep reds, on this alien world is a good thing. We did notice, however, that some of the CG smoke and dust does look, well, CG but thats a result of the post production rather then the transfer to Blu-Ray.

Riddick is presented on Blu-Ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (24-bit/48Khz) and it's a cracking track which is aided by the films genre. As with any sci-fi/action release the surround sound channels are used frequently, and aggressively while the often limited in terms of dialogue - particularly in the first half of the film - when the mercs arrive on the planet the dialogue is generally crystal clear due to the impressive sound prioritization.

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Katee Sackhoff is the only woman in the film.
Besides the main audio track this Blu-Ray includes an Audio Description track which is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224kbps (again, why no surround sound?). It's a very descriptive track which provides plenty of detail, especially in the opening part of the film which is predominantly silent with only Riddick on the planet. There is only one English subtitle track which is accurate to the dialogue, and coloured according to who is talking.

It's fair to say that this disc isn't loaded with extras which may disappoint some and we really would have loved an audio commentary with Vin and David who are so invested in the franchise talking about the production and funding difficulties with this film (including Vin Diesel having to put up a lot of money to get the film made). Anyway here's what's on the Blu-Ray (besides the pre-menu trailers which included The Family and Lovelace).

The Twohy Touch (6:22/HD): This extra focuses on the director of Riddick - David Twohy. There's some on-set footage and discussion about how deeply involved both David and Vin are in the creation of this world, and how invested they are in.

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Some of the mercenaries hunting Riddick.
Riddickian Tech (10:14/HD): This is a pretty cool featurette which focuses on the technology, and vehicles seen within the film. There are plenty of interviews which looks at the design of the vehicles and practical filming of the vehicles.

Vin's Riddick (8:50/HD): Vin Diesel is Riddick and has starred in all three films, and his input into the franchise has been instrumental in keeping the franchise alive and has stepped up to being a Producer.

Meet The Mercs (10:44/HD): As the title suggests this looks at the various Mercenaries in the game - and we give kudos to David Twohy for ensuring everyone has a different "look". There's a bit of a focus on Katee Sackhoff as the only female cast member.

The World of Riddick (10:50/HD): This is a pretty impressive look at how the filmmakers created the sets and look of the alien world including filming the Jackal dogs in the film - from practical to CG creations.

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Riddick's Furyan eyes...
Riddick: Blindsided (5:29/HD): This is an animated look at how Riddick ended up going from Lord Marshall to isolated on an alien world. This is also shown in the film, but more detail in this clip.

Riddick isn't the greatest sci-fi or action film ever, nor does it pretend to be, but fans of this franchise, and even those that have never seen the previous films will likely enjoy this latest outing.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.