DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Read David Graham's film review of Riddick

They had to make this film, David Twohy says. Fans begged them to. On Facebook.

The sincerity of this is sweet, though it does leave one wondering how far his team will go to keep people happy - Vin Diesel risked his house to raise the funds for this one and despite the obvious love with which it was made, it's unlikely to make as much money as its two predecessors. Having said that, it remains impressive that this small group of dedicated independent filmmakers have managed to carve out a space for themselves in a genre normally dominated by mega budget blockbusters, and there is indeed plenty here that will make fans happy.

Copy picture

The film itself unfortunately suffers a bit in the transition to the small screen. Because, like Pitch Black, it features a lot of monster combat in darkness, it depends on good visual quality so viewers can follow what's going on, and on smaller televisions some of this is likely to be lost. It also depends on a good sound system as in places the mixing is off and Diesel's gravelly narration tends to get lost under the soundtrack. It's a shame as this is really the sort of film that should be watched with friends and beers, making this its natural environment.

Accompanying the film itself are three features - one about Diesel and his iconic character, one about the mercenaries who make up the rest of the film's characters, and one which presents us with a storyboard or cartoon version of a short tale set in the interim between The Chronicles Of Riddick and this film. The latter doesn't feature a particularly gripping plot but it's pleasing enough to look at, even if the artwork closely resembles that in any number of roleplaying game supplements.

The feature on Riddick is lightweight but charming. Diesel is obviously devoted to his character and his enthusiasm is infectious, but what's most interesting is to see him ease in and out of it on set, completely shifting his body language as he ceases to be the friendly co-producer focused on effects and technical issues. We're told about his background in writing and directing as if there's a surfeit of indie filmmakers who haven't been through this DIY route, but the point is fairly made. Still, it might have been nice to hear more directly from him rather than just watching from a distance as he connects with other aspects of the filmmaking process.

Perhaps the most interesting of the three features is that devoted to the mercs, partly because it explains a few oddities in the film itself (such as the scene where a prisoner is released only to meet a sticky end) and partly because it's rare to see this much attention paid to supporting characters of this sort. Each has clearly been developed as an individual, even if we barely get to see them onscreen. Katee Sackhoff is particularly interesting, talking about the way her character was developed to give her a useful function and ensure she was more than just a token female presence. Jordi MollĂ  seems quite out of place as a serious actor in a role not really scripted to be anything more than a cardboard villain, but again, that redemptive enthusiasm is there.

All in all, this is a package that delivers what fans want without outstaying its welcome. It doesn't go into great depth (it's not clear there's great depth available) and it doesn't provide any amazing new insights, but it does round out the production background nicely and you'll get more out of watching the film itself after you've watched the rest.

Reviewed on: 07 Jan 2014
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Marooned on a planet full of monsters, Riddick must face off against mercenaries and issues from his past.
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Product Code: B00F8J5Q66

Region: 2

Extras: Features on Riddick and on the mercs. Riddick Sunsided storyboard / short film. Subtitles.

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