Directed by David Twohy
Reviewed by Adam, added on Jan 1 2005
Unlike most of my DVD reviews, I'll just be reviewing the movie itself. Yes, somebody else has already reviewed the film, but not the unrated version - which is, in my humble opinion, far better. I'm sure most of you that hated this film will continue to hate it, regardless; but I urge those of you that found it to be simply average to take a look at the unrated cut. Plus, there's no sense in talking about the features, as there aren't many. The commentary is pretty good, but that's about it...
The Director's Cut adds about fifteen minutes to the film, making it about two hours and eight minutes or so in length (despite what the box may say - those things are never right anyway). The additional footage adds a new character, missing completely from the theatrical cut: Shirah (Kristin Lehman), seen in the Riddick Xbox game. She is a living beacon for all wayward Furyan warriors, calling to them to remind them of their heritage, and to tell them of what the Necromongers have done to their race. Shirah helps to give Riddick a better motivation for going after the Lord Marshal in the end. She also better explains exactly what happened on planet Furya thirty years prior to the film.
Also added to the film are scenes which extend others, giving us a bit more understanding of the motivations of people like Lord and Dame Vaako. We have a few more moments with Keira and Imam, and an extended character arc for the female merc on Toomb's second crew (this addition wasn't necessary, but it does provide for a really creepy moment between the girl and Riddick). There's also more depth to the explanation of the Necromonger religion, as in what exactly the Underverse is, and why the Necromongers seek it out. The ending is slightly different, ending simply with Riddick uttering, "You keep what you kill," as he sits upon his new throne. All and all, the additions are fun to watch, but they have a greater purpose than this...
The way the new footage is integrated into the film - especially the new Shirah/Furyan stuff - makes the film into a more palatable action/adventure epic. But, believe it or not, it actually helps make the film more of a tragedy. The one character we've come to love and accept - Keira, formerly Jack - dies, and our anti-hero - a man who just wanted to be left alone - is now the leader of an empire he hates. We don't see any resolution to Riddick's "promotion"; all we're left with now is the knowledge that Riddick will become the Lord Marshal, whether he likes it or not. The theatrical cut's additional moment showing the Necromongers leaving Helion Prime, and Aereon's end narration, are gone. The new ending is more a gut punch - but a good one.
Like I said before, though, whether you like the director's cut more than the original or not, depends largely on whether or not you liked the theatrical version. If you hated it, this version probably isn't going to make things better. If you thought it was OK, you may just find that "The Chronicles of Riddick" is better than you remember. If you liked it just fine to begin with, you'll love this version even more. If you fall into one of the latter two categories, and you are a film buff, you really should (at the very least) rent this version.
And while you're at it, check out the Xbox game (a review is available here, written by yours truly)
Riddick Fans: 8.25/10
It was OK: 7.75/10
The Rest: 7/10