ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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The Chronicles of Riddick: Unrated (2004)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: David Twohy

Starring:
Vin Diesel/Riddick
Alexa Davalos/Kyra
Colm Feore/Lord Marshall
Thandie Newton/Dame Vaako
PLOT-CRUNCH
In this sequel to the underground hit "Pitch Black", we find our darkness-loving criminal Riddick (Diesel) having to scrap with a space Roman/Nazi-like Empire called the Necromongers. They are bent on dominating the galaxy while Riddick is bent on kicking their asses back to bad fashion heaven! SUPERSIZE SOME OF THAT MACHO B-S PLEASE! THANK YOU!!!
THE LOWDOWN

"You're not afraid of the dark...are you?" – Riddick

Although I didn’t go into a tailspin over "Pitch Black" as much as the masses, I did get hardcore “Disco Fever” off one element within the picture and that was Vin “The Machine” Diesel as anti-hero Riddick. Man, I adored that character to severed limbs, relished Diesel’s low-key, yet aggressive, show and have been yearning for Riddick to return to the bloody screen ever since. Well, the wait is finally over! "The Chronicles of Riddick" was a “summer first” for this jerk, whereby I managed to wholeheartedly grin throughout a film even while sitting in a theater surrounded by mooks with ringing cell phones and skank-like girlfriends who never stopped yapping out loud. I was sucked into this tale faster than you can say “I want Diesel’s biceps, give me steroids now!" At the time, one of my main peeves with the PG 13 cut was its lack of onscreen violence. Now that the Director’s Cut (15 minutes longer) is upon us via this DVD release, have the wrong things been set right? Let’s find out!

The broad mythology of "The Chronicles of Riddick’s” narrative was the first chunk of sugar that I nibbled on fervently throughout this watch. It wasn’t too “mumbo jumbo” driven to lose me in its shuffle and it wasn’t overly simplistic either…it was just right. The themes of destiny, individual faith, conquering in the name of religion and discovering one’s roots, all arose to rub my dagger the right way. It should be said that this Director’s Cut gave us more meat to cook when it came to character/plot development and Riddick’s mysterious background. In terms of the latter, a new character named “Shera” was introduced to up the stakes of the game and flesh out the Riddick’s roots subplot. I was digging it the most! Riddick’s past fascinates me! THANK YOU for that!

The potent fanboy rush continued through the many knee-slapping, “I want to get in there too” action set pieces. They didn’t pull any punches with the physical goodies and I grooved on being assaulted by mammoth hand-to-hand fight sequences, various “we have to escape” scenarios, a couple of slick gun battles and a “race against the sun” bit that had me punching the moron sitting next to me in joy (Yeah you, JoBlo!) Now that’s what I’m talking about! In the “MORE GOOD NEWS” area; this Director’s Cut thankfully gave me some of the sweet strawberry dessert that I so craved when watching the watered down PG 13 Theatrical version. Yes, this cut delivered the onscreen violence that was omitted! YEEHAW! Although not as extreme as I thought it would be, the added nastiness did make a difference on the whole, with the major “knife fight” in particular coming through full blast this time around in the “f*ck yeah” department. What a rumble!

Furthermore, the panty-dropping look of the picture also contributed to my enjoyment. If it wasn’t the gnarly “Gladiator”-inspired attire boomeranging me, it was the awe-inspiring sets, slick spacecrafts and various compelling planet settings whooping my skull into bread crumbs. I truly felt as if I had entered another world and taking into account that the planet I live on sucks baboon dong...I appreciated the much needed vacation. To top it all off, the flick excelled with its characters and relationships too! Sexy and talented Alexa Davalos (Kyra) was quite the revelation! Not only did her character’s emotional tie with Riddick give the flick heart, but seeing her Kung Fu some heads with panache had me yelping in approval. The girl had me at the first fly-kick! Having said that, amidst all of the chaos of visual effects and interstellar warfare, the highlight of this rousing adventure was, for me, once more...the one, the only Vin Diesel in his best role ever! Diesel owned the movie from frame one with his tough guy demeanor, hordes of kool one liners, underlying intensity and able carnage skills. In my opinion, Riddick has the potential to become an iconic character that will beat the test of time. The Terminator, Rambo, Dirty Harry…add Riddick to that list. Vin...great to have you back in tip-top shape, bro!

On the slight “bah” side of things, I did feel as though the middle section of this tale ignored the bigger picture too much in favor of showing us Riddick causing a ruckus in a decrepit jail. Hey, don’t get wrong...it was still a hoot and a half (Tea Cup baby…Tea Cup…) but it strayed a tad too much from the main storyline for my liking. Lastly, although this Director’s Cut did pad up the violence, I still thought that more onscreen red grub would’ve been needed to give this tale total impact. If only the flick had taken the “Paul Verhoeven” route when it came to its bloodshed…a man can dream…

On the whole, Riddick was, for me, the first TRUE summer blast of the season. And now that summer is over; I can safely say, it was the “only” true summer blast of the year as well. It started off with a bang, gave me respect from the get-go (nice to see it tied to "Pitch Black"), followed that up with a pummeling via visceral plot turns/action set pieces and ended with a sucker punch that sent me to the mat yelling in elation, “Conan the Barbarian!” Catch RIDDICK!!!!!
GORE
This Director’s Cut gave us more to stab in! We get a knife in the face, a severed head, a knife in the head, people being burned to a disintegrating crisp, stabbings, imaplings and some minor bloodshed (cuts and bruises). Although this alternate cut didn’t go as ape shit in the graphicness as I had hoped, it at least showed most of its kills onscreen no matter how brief.
ACTING
Whereby The Rock is today’s Schwarzenegger (light and endearing), Vin Diesel (Riddick) is the contemporary Stallone. Here, Vin was macho kool at its grittiest, delivering those badass lines with gusto and whooping ass with high class. YOU GO, BOY! Alexa Davalos (Kyra) rocked as the female-like Riddick and handled her emotional and physical scenes admirably. Colm Feore (Lord Marshall) chewed firmly into the role and gave us an intense and memorable villain. Thandie Newton (Dame Vaako) had fun with her flirtatious part while I had fun with her heavy cleavage. Karl Urban (Vaako) underplayed it perfectly and although I would’ve picked a younger actress than Judi Dench (Aereon), she still gave a strong show as the Obi-Wan Kenobi of the story.
T & A
We get a couple of heavy cleavage shots (Thandie Newton being one of its benefactors) and the ladies get Vin Diesel in a tank-top looking like the man‘s man that he is!
DIRECTING
Twohy kicked all kinds of butt offering aesthetically-inclined action sequences, a groovy mood, a tight pace, and slick angles while never letting the flick’s heavy visual effect nature cramp his style. George Lucas should see this film and take notes!
SOUNDTRACK
The score by the great Graeme Revell (who also did the score for "Pitch Black") was loud, engaging and imposing. It flawlessly capturing the epic scale and high energy of the affair.
DVD FEATURES

Distribution: Universal Studios
Release Date: November 16 2004

IMAGE: We get Full Frame: 1.33:1 and Anamorphic Widescreen: 2.40:1 options.

SOUND: We get  English Dolby Digital 5.1 and French Dolby Digital 5.1 options. 

EXTRAS

David Twohy Intro: Before the film, Writer/Director David Twohy appeared to introduce the new cut and explain to us that there will be slight editing jumps where the new footage jumps in. To be honest I noticed that happening maybe once (the massive knife fight). Deleted Scenes (8 minutes): This feature offered 3 lengthy “deleted scenes” with one being an alternate opening, the other being an “exposition” scene and the last being a variation on Toomb’s demise. The latter was actually my favorite where I dug seeing that “Hell Hound” subplot come full circle with impact. This feature also had a director’s commentary option and I checked it out with it on. The commentary was an insightful good listen. Groovy feature!

Virtual Guide to The Chronicles of Riddick (7 minutes): How’s this for a unique feature! This segment had a couple of characters from the film give us background info and comments on the various locations/races that populated the picture. You can play each section separately or one after the other. This was a sweet bit that will please the hardcore Riddick fan in terms of getting the full 411 on Riddick’s world.

Toombs’ Chase Log (10 minutes): Another distinctive feature! Here we get to follow “Toombs’” activities through a visual log that has him yap to us and remark about what’s going down in his quest. The log began before the film and ended on planet UV-6 where Toombs’ hunted down Riddick at the opening of the picture. An entertaining and harmless feature!

Riddick Insider (feature length): Talk about maximizing “repeat DVD viewing”! With this feature “on”, we get little pop up “info filled” boxes surfacing at the bottom of the screen as we watch the flick. The boxes give us facts on everything from the actors, specifics on the worlds of the story, the characters and even the Universal Studio logo! A Grade- A feature that will have me returning to watch Riddick at least one extra time to get the full “jist” of things!

Visual Effects Revealed (6 Minutes): This segment took us on set to demonstrate how some of the more ambitious visual effects found in the film were executed. The Visual effects dudes behind the goodies also came in to explicate how they pulled them off. A gnarly feature!

Riddick’s Worlds: (3 minutes): A happy go lucky Vin Diesel takes us on a guided tour of the various “in Studio” Riddick sets. Vin was in good spirits and going from set to set with the lad while hearing his10 Cents was fun stuff! This feature had another option tagged to it, named Interactive 360° view of the Sets. There, we get to gander at 8 different extensive drawings of each individual sets while having the option to travel around and check it out. NICE!

Play The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay Xbox Game: If you slap this DVD into your XBOX, you’ll be able to play the first level of the Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay videogame. I don’t have an XBOX hence I didn’t play it…bummer…how about making that game available for PC? COME ON!

Audio Commentary: Writer/Director David Twohy and actors Karl Urban and Alexa Davalo all come in to talk shop! David was the most prominent speaker here giving us background info on the scenes at hand, pointing out the deleted scenes and sharing on set trivia and moments. Karl Urban had a charming sense of humor, Alexa Davalo seemed shy but still delivered and Twohy was simply a fountain of information. Overall, this was a decent commentary but it would’ve benefited having Diesel in the mix! I mean…he is the film!

Well slap a dress on me and call me Tracy! I’m a mucho content Riddick fan! This Director’s Cut DVD punched hard film and extras wise. All Riddick followers should get this version of the DVD. Leave that PG 13 release on the racks where it belongs! GET THIS ONE! NOTE: This awesome DVD also sported DVD Rom goodies (I don’t have DVD Rom…bugh)!

BOTTOM LINE
"The Chronicles of Riddick" was a sci-fi roar of larger-than-life and macho proportions! There was a kooler than a corpse on ice vibe here that made sure to keep my rocks shaken and stirred the whole way. It was for me the “best” of the big summer movies and the better Sci-Fi/action flick I've seen in ages! I still don’t get why it didn’t do as good at the Box Office as expected! This fly ride moved fast and “Furian”, looked spectacular, sported enough depth for me to care and proudly put out the finest anti-hero of this century (Riddick), portrayed by the most underrated actor of that same century (Vin f-ing Diesel).

I guess my only beef with the flick was in its screenplay structure (the jail scene), but that was minor to say the least. And it should be said that the "Unrated Cut" is the only version of the film for me. Forget the PG 13 edit! It's for the birds! Sure, I didn’t get as much graphic violence as I had expected but the up in brutality and exposition in regards to Riddick's roots did make the film a more fulfilling sit down. In conclusion, sign me up on the “official” Riddick fanboy list and yes, I STILL WANT THEM SEQUELS!
BULL'S EYE

This is the first flick of a planned trilogy.
 
Vin Diesel revealed that the title of the second film may be "The Underverse".
 
Notice that Riddick's shaved head in the film was often a cause of continuity problems.
 
Vin Diesel is a great man.

PLAY THE RIDDICK "ESCAPE FROM CREMATORIA" VIDEO GAME HERE

VISIT THE OFFICIAL CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK SITE HERE

READ THE ARROW'S DARK FURY REVIEW HERE

 


 

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