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This review is from: Chronicles of Riddick [Blu-ray][Region Free] (Blu-ray)
Writer-Director David Twohy created a great anti-hero character with Riddick when he made the successful 'creature feature' Pitch Black. A sequel was inevitable but it took an entirely different route and as a result wasn't as popular, yet the epic Chronicles has more style and ideas than all of the new Star Wars pictures put together.
Focusing more on the universe of Riddick rather than Riddick himself Chronicles is huge in terms of story, special effects, action etc. completely detached from anything seen in Pitch Black. Originally intended as the first part of a trilogy Chronicles places the character of Riddick in the middle of a massive storyline, which probably alienated many viewers expecting just another sci-fi/horror/monster movie like Pitch Black.
The movie introduces us to the race of humanoids known as the Necromongers who are searching for something called the 'Underverse' conquering and enslaving numerous worlds as they go. The only thing according to prophecy that can stop the Necromongers is a Furyan, a race who are all but extinct - Riddick soon discovers he is the Furyan of the prophecy.
Vin Diesel is brilliant in his signature role and clearly enjoys playing Riddick and the supporting cast is just as good. The under-rated Karl Urban is always superb, there's the gorgeous and devilish Thandie Newton, Colm Feore as the supernatural leader of the Necromongers and there's even a small role for Dame Judi Dench.
The production and visual designs are stunning and at times breathtaking as the scale of them is so huge, it is very reminiscent of David Lynch's Dune. There are some amazing and exciting set-pieces, the invasion of the Necromongers is a particular highlight, as is the prison escape by Riddick and the subsequent escape across the planet's surface, which is gradually being incinerated by the sun.
I think Chronicles is a seriously under-rated movie and always defend its corner from critics and the Director's Cut greatly improves the theatrical version by adding scenes that explore Riddick's background as a Furyan. With great characters, impressive visuals and original action set-pieces it is one of the most imaginative, stylish, original and exciting science-fiction films - I can't wait for the other planned instalments!
The Blu-Ray version of Chronicles is nothing short of spectacular and if you're a fan of the movie I highly recommend it, however as another reviewer has pointed out, the extras are basically lifted from the DVD version and it would have been nice to see something new, but it's worth it just for the picture and sound quality alone.
I also highly recommend the animated short Dark Fury by Peter Chung which acts as a great bridging episode between Pitch Black and Chronicles.