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Pitch Black is a science fiction thriller. It is the first part of a trilogy of films featuring the character Richard B. Riddick, played by Vin Diesel. Riddick, (besides being a lump of muscle,) cannot see in light, and so wears shades during the day. He can however see in the dark, giving him a crucial advantage over his enemies. We are vaguely informed that this condition has come about through killing people and being left to rot in prison.
The films have a Star-Wars-style setting... spaceships swoop from planet to planet, apparently on very important business. Pitch Black begins with one particular spaceship crashlanding onto a seemingly abandoned planet. This spaceship is transporting Riddick, (the prisoner,) and a number of other wooden characters. Three suns happen to be orbiting this planet, subjecting the survivors to very bright light. This effect, (gained by increasing the exposure on the camera,) continues until halfway through the film, at which point there is a solar eclipse, (and someone thinks to turn down the exposure!) This cheap trickery serves no other purpose other than to annoy the viewer.
The other special effects are acceptable, but effects mean nothing if the rest of the film is terrible. Vin Diesel provides his usual atrocious performance... barely altering his facial expression at all. Let's not kid ourselves... he is not in the film to act, but to be Vin Diesel. More tragic still is the script, which was clearly written to provide his character with cliched lines. For example, one of the minor characters randomly brings up religion every now and then. This unexpected addition to the plot puzzled me, until Vin Diesel came out with, "Where is your God now?!" at which point I realised, the only reason why the religious man had been put in the film, was so Vin Diesel could say that line.
However, I am going to save Pitch Black the embarrassment of being given 1star for three reasons. Firstly, the action sequences are moderately entertaining... not that I would want to see them twice. Secondly, the leading lady, Radha Mitchell, is a good actress, and plays the only convincing character. Thirdly, Pitch Black is better than the second film of the trilogy, "The Chronicles of Riddick," which truly is shocker.
Despite the films being publicised as a trilogy, apparently there is not one, but two scripts being written for future films. All I can add is that I will not be wasting anymore of my time on this riddickulous drivel.
The Science Fiction film that brought Vin Diesel to our collective consciousness, this is a fast paced dark film where right and wrong are confused at various turns.
A deep space mining vessel is trundling along when it is hit by meteors and its pilot, Fry (Mitchell) has to crash land the vessel on a mysteriously beautiful planet. The crash kills a number of the crew of the vessel, the remaining members bury the bed, see what can be used and are astounded by the planet they are on, it is so bright it kills all other colours and is limited to rocks and sand, with no discernible life around.....until the lights go out!!!
As the survivors realise that there are hungry murderous forces at work below the surface of the planet one of the survivors a transiting killer by the name of Riddick (Vin Diesel) comes into his own creating chaos above and below the surface, the survivors realise that to survive any further they will need Riddick both good and bad to survive in their worst nightmare.
Vin Diesel ... Richard B. Riddick
Radha Mitchell ... Carolyn Fry
Cole Hauser ... William J. Johns
Keith David ... Abu 'Imam' al-Walid
Lewis Fitz-Gerald ... Paris P. Ogilvie
Claudia Black ... Sharon 'Shazza' Montgomery
Rhiana Griffith ... Jack / Jackie
John Moore ... John 'Zeke' Ezekiel
Simon Burke ... Greg Owens
Les Chantery ... Suleiman
Sam Sari ... Hassan
Firass Dirani ... Ali
Ric Anderson ... Total Stranger
Vic Wilson ... Captain Tom Mitchell
Angela Moore ... Dead Crew Member
If i'm honest, i'm not a huge fan of Vin Diesel, he seems adept at looking hard and robotically coming out with the odd one liner, but he lacks something whether that is charisma or whatever, I don't think it was the script but I found the acting in general stunted, I have seen Diesel more animated in later films so perhaps he is hampered by the script, but nonetheless the acting is average at best and the atmosphere and stunts are the best thing in this film.
This is a 3 out of 5 film for me, the action is frenetic and fast paced and the story has been well thought through, but the constant darkness really bored me and I found the film a bit depressing. Some of the fights and action sequences are amazing especially the fast paced crash at the start, but overall I found the film a tad derivative and not as good as it could have been. Speaking with my partner she feels it is a definite 4 out of 5, offering a new view on the old alien terror theme, she mentioned that the film was made on a small budget and should be judged as such.
The film has some good wisecracks and one liners and there are some very scary moments with the main monster taking his time to make his presence felt to overwhelming effect. The story is fun and frenetic without much real substance, but I don't think that hampers the film in anyway as it doesn't try to be anything other than a rollercoaster action horror, sci-fi film for fans of the genre.
The film is patient and action packed, it wasn't for me, but I can say it is very well made and will appeal to fans of the genre.
The DVD is now very cheap and can be purchased on Amazon for £3.85, or on Ebay or Marketplace for 99p or less.
Visually Pitch Black is an excellent film, very atmospheric and with some good special effects. Sadly being good visually is not enough to make it a great film and especialy as I'm not a big sci fi fan then it has to be something special for me to get excited about it.
The film stars Vin Diesel, when a prison space ship which is flying on auto pilot hits the tail of a passing comet it crash lands onto a planet and the heavy impact leaves a lot of the crew dead as well as many of the inmates. The ships captain does survive and she is played by Radha Mitchell (Carolyn Fry) however she is horrified to hear that the highest category risk prisoner has also survived and is on the loose. Played by Diesel his name is Richard B Riddick however he is soon recaptured. However soon some of the survivors start to suffer gruesome deaths and both prisoners and guards are equally at risk and must work together to survive however that would mean that they both have to trust each other.
There is nothing really original about the plot of this film however it does do a good job of building the tension throughout the film, the special effects are pretty good and while the acting is nothing to write home about it is competent enough.
I found it to be an entertaining enough film without being something that I would go out of my way to watch again. There are a few plot gaps in places however it is a perfectly acceptable sci fi thriller.
Pitch Black is a sci fi film that stars Vin Diesel which has some impressive special effects and is a very visual film and one that I found quite interesting and I'm not a particularly big fan of sci fi films, it is no Blade Runner but it is still a very competent film.
A prison spaceship that is flying on automatic pilot hits the tail of a comet and crash lands onto a planet resulting in the death of most of the crew, the ships captain Carolyn Fry played by Radha Mitchell does survive and she soon realises that the most dangerous prisoner on the ship has also survived and he is now on the loose. He is Richard B Riddick and is played by Vin Diesel. Along with other survivors she manages to capture him however they are in more danger from the inhabitants of the planet itself and soon crew members are meeting rather grusome deaths and the violent killer Riddick is the surivors only hope of staying alive.
Visually this is an excellent film and while it has a fairly basic and unoriginal plot, nasty things in the dark picking off the humans, it does deliver a quite entertaining film with some good special effects and some nice tense scenes.
The acting is perfectly acceptable without really standing out as anything special instead it is the atmosphere created in the film that works really well. The plot moves along at a nice pace and holds the viewers interest through out the length of the film.
Overall a decent sci fi film and one well worth seeing.
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
I must admit that I have a soft spot for little science fiction films, and Pitch Black fits the exact bill I'm talking about. Now revered as a cult classic, Pitch Black may not be a meditation on the human soul or particularly clever, but it is an efficient sci-fi action film, that makes stars of a few of its cast members and boasts some stunning visuals.
The film begins as a spaceship rides into the tail of a comet while on auto-pilot, causing the ship to crash land with most of the crew dead. However, the captain, Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell), manages to survive, and realises that their most dangerous prisoner on the ship, Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) has escaped. However, they manage to bring him back in, treating him as the scum that he is and ensuring he is restrained at all times. However, the planet they have crash landed on is home to a fleet of grotesque monsters, and as the survivors of the crash begin to be picked off one by one, Riddick is their only hope for survival, seeing as he has been fitted with a special eye implant that allows him to see in the dark. However, it will also require a mutual trust if they are to survive.
Finally - an artistic horror film! Pitch Black has gorgeous visuals and lush cinematography, while also helping make a star out of lead Vin Diesel. The saturated film stock is a wonderful touch, and the film ends on a surprisingly bleak note, making this a stand-out science fiction film of the 2000s even if it hasn't got a particularly deep or thoughtful plo.
Pitch Black in my opinion is one of the greatest horror movies of all time. As Riddick says in the movie "its not me you have to worry about." The movies takes place in deep space aboard a transport ship that is forced to make a crash landing on an uninhabited (or so they think) planet after being punched full of holes from a meteor shower that they have the unfortunate business of running into. The ship makes anything other than a graceful landing leaving a small group of survivors to face what the planet holds. Not only is this a civilian transport its a penal transport as well. Transporting one of the most dangerous criminals of the time. One Riddick every bounty hunters Night mare or dream. As group digs a whole to bury the dead they discover a system of underground caves. During this time another group is off looking for water. Not finding water they find an abandoned settlement and a small ship. Hearing Shots they run back to find out what is going on. Arriving to find the caves, Frye having to make up for almost killing every one on the ship decides that she will be the one to go down and explore. Not realizing what the planet holds till its too late they all think that Riddick is responsible for the methodical picking off of the cast one by one. As Frye explores the caves she is being tracked in the dark by the only other living thing on the planet. A creature that is sensitive to the light. Realizing that she is about to be dinner she climbs up trying to reach saftey and the sun. Jack hears Frye screaming and she is rescued just before being consumed. Once they rescue Frye and realize that it is not Riddick that they are needing to worry about they decide to make an attempt to flee the planet. Going back to the settlement the fix the water system and have water for there stay on the planet. Frye explores the settlement coming across a device that tells her that the suns will be setting leaving the planet in total darkness and at the mercy of the creatures in the caves. Realizing that they are in big trouble as the suns begins to set leaving them in complete darkness they rush to save there lives. Will it be to late? This is a great movie with many great scenes. Riddick's eyes make him what he is in this movie. Great make up and filming. I love this movie and can watch it over and over again. One of the greatest movies of all time.
Are you afraid of the dark? Well, you should be! Because Pitch Black is an exciting, edge of your seat Sci-fi horror thriller.
The basic premise of the film is that a cargo ship, transporting people to a distant planet, accidentally gets caught in an asteroid belt. The ship takes heavy damage and crashlands on a desert planet with three suns which keeps the planet blazed in permanent daylight. The crew is dead except for the pilot and all that is left of the passengers are a few Settlers. A bounty hunter and his quarry, a highly dangerous killer.
Whilst looking for water they come across a mysteriously deserted encampment that has been empty for 22 years. At about this time, a member of the party disappears and at first the convict, Riddick (Vin Diesel) is the prime suspect. It soon transpires that the creatures that killed the man lives underground in a subterranean cavern as they are photophobic (Allergic to the sun and and bright lights). These creatures are also responsible for the deaths of the people in the encampment.
The party are safe in the sunlight but to their horror, they discover that the planet is plunged into total darkness by a Total eclipse that occurs every 22 years and time is running out. Their only hope of survival is to fly from the planet in the abandoned ship at the encampment. They go back to the cargo ship to retrieve fuel pods but the eclipse occurs before they are able to escape the planet. Their only hope of salvation lies in Riddick, as he has implants in his eyes that allow him to see through the darkness.
The cast is made up of a group of unknowns and I think that there are only about ten people in total who actually appear in the film. They all act superbly though the pick of the bunch has to be Vin Diesel as Riddick (probably the best guy in movie history) ad Cole Hauser as his nemesis, the bountyhunter Jonze. The special effects are amazing, with the CGI creatures being so realistic there is a dinstict danger that those of a nervous disposition may soil their underwear. It's 104 minutes of exhilarating tension.
The DVD is presented in a 2.35:1 (anamorphic) ratio and has had a fantastic picture transfer. The images are really clean and the blacks, once the eclipse has occurred, are fantastic with very little pixellation
The 5.1 Soundtrack is superb and will have you looking over your shoulder to make sure that one of the creatures isn't behind you. You've got a choice of English and German for the languages as well as subtitles in English, German and Dutch.
The disc also boasts quite a few extras. These are :-
* Into Pitch Black
A good 'making of' documentary.
* A brilliant Feature Commentary with Director David Twohy and actors Cole Hauser and Vin Diesel.
This is probably the best commentary I've ever heard on DVD. It's very informative but at the same time gut bustingly hilarious (Especially Hauser bragging about how many aliens he's bagged with his shotgun)
* Feature Commentary with Director, Producer and Visual Effects Supervisor.
This one is a bit more strait-laced but is very informative.
* A DVD newsletter
* Production Notes
* Cast Bio's
* Filmmaker Bio's
* Web Cast/ Rave Footage
I think this is possibly the best film to come out of the Sci-fi/Horror genre (sorry Ridley!) and definitely recommend it. The only thing that's annoying is the amount of Aussies in it. I was half expecting Paul Hogan to pop out at any minute!
Picture the scene: First, you're on an interplanetary transport with a psychotic killer who can see in the dark. But he's chained up, so that's alright. Then the ship crashes on a deserted planet with only an abandoned mining village for shelter. But you survived the impact, so things could be worse. The aforementioned shiny-eyed loon breaks free in the crash, but he doesn't seem interested in picking you off just yet, so again, life could be much worse. Then, things start to go a little nuts.
Pitch Black is a mixture of many things. It's a sort of bastard hybrid Aliens vs. Classic 80s Stalk N' Slash, but it'd be grossly unfair to call it either of these things. The plot is pretty a pretty standard horror/sci-fi staple, as that psycho gets loose among the diverse-characters-with-a-dark-secret survivors, but the real tension gets racked up when the seasonal six month nighttime comes to the planet. You see, when it gets dark, all manner of flying betoothed (is that a word? It should be...) alien beasties start erupting from the honeycomb rocks. So, we're left with our band of misfits in a race against time to get back to their escape vessel as their light sources slowly diminish, and an uneasy alliance between the nutter-turned 'only guy who can save us in the dark'...
The stand-out here is Vin Diesel (also seen in Wall Street rip-off The Boiler Room,) as the ocularly-enhanced uber-baddie. If there is a downside to this gem, it's his rather unconvincing change of pathology at the end of the movie, but given the low budget (by Hollywood standards,) Pitch Black is an ingenious, tense piece of Sci-Fi with a satisfying amount of cool tech and nasty alien hostility.
Another Alien looking movie with a bunch of lost space travellers and scary CGI monsters...not really. We meet the "crew" of a spacecraft which crashed on the surface of three sun planet. A muscular convict who can see in the dark and which is being taken to prison by a policeman, a Muslim family - father with three sons, a pair of traders, a freaky French antique collector, small boy and woman co-pilot which is being promoted to captain as the previous captain's dead. The whole bunch is rather diverse - each of those persons has its own personality which is different than all other movies full of mercenaries teams, marine teams and bad guy teams.
Place of the drama - a planet which looks like a big Sahara with three suns. Everything's bone dry around a forsaken station which looks like its residents fleed in haste. It looks good although you can feel the CGI everywhere.
Monsters - to be honest. They are not scary. From far away they look like a flock of ravenous birds but with closer look well they look just stupid - imagine some kind of for legged freaky lizard with a tail, wings and I shaped horizontal placed head full of teeth.
The plot = easy to predict, as the darkness falls the monsters come out. Riddick (convict played by Vin Diesel) can see in the dark right? so he can lead the group from the forsaken station to the spaceship, avoiding the monsters which are afraid of light. But he is a bad guy - can he be trusted? And is he really a bad guy or is there someone else?
The movie itself apart from not to scary monster creatures is good. I enjoyed it and I was really surprised in the end. It's worth a shot however you will find out some parts that:
- should be scary but werent
- should be funny but werent
- should deliver but failed
One of the marvels of a sci-fi film is how believable it is. Successful sci-fi films tend to be the ones where the characters and events are believable, and the fear and helplessness of the unknown comes across to the viewer. The 2000 film Pitch Black is one such film. The fear of darkness and of creatures unseen combines brilliantly with the fear that the only guy capable of helping you is also the one most likely to kill you. Read on.....
The plotline of a spaceship crash landing on another planet is a much followed one. It is prevalent in many films. This comes with a twist, as it has a passenger who is the most dangerous criminal known, being transported to a secure holding prison in space. With the plane crash landing, the survivors form a motley crew of families, the criminal: serial killer Riddick, and the man who's been chasing him, Johns.
The planet is seemingly sun drenched, but when the sun goes down and the darkness comes, scary happenings start. Strange flying creatures start hunting the survivors, and they need to reach safety on the planet. Sightless due to the darkness, they need a miracle, and it just so happens that Riddick has had his eyes surgically shined, meaning that the most dangerous serial killer is the only one who can see in the dark.
The Cast and Performances
Vin Diesel scares as Riddick, but the emotions he evokes through the character are also very well performed. Cole Hauser stars as Johns, Riddick's nemesis, and does so with the right amount of cynicism and scepticism, not trusting the serial killer in the slightest. Supporting roles from Radha Mitchell and Keit David make this sci-fi film very believable. The acting is very subtle, as the focus is very much on the sci-fi aspect of the creatures and the danger the dark palces the survivors in.
This is a very well worked film, with a good but basic plot involving all characters in equal measure. The scenes are amazingly filmed, and the special effects guys have definitely done their job. Director David Twohy has done his job perfectly here, providing the right atmosphere all the way through. The tagline 'Fight evil with evil' fits the bill.
A very good film, with a convincing anti-hero in the form of Riddick.
The DVD is available from amazon.co.uk for £4.98 new, £0.90 used.
This review may also be posted on ciao.co.uk
Thanks for reading.
Pitch Black is one of those films that thanks to a gimmick partially forced on it by budget constraints actually provides something a little different in the sci-fi world. Its central conceit a group of survivors being hunted by monsters which come out in the dark plays on basic human fears and instantly helps set up the tense atmosphere the film needs. The fact that neither we, nor they, know how long the darkness is going to last adds to the unsettling feeling.
It also unearthed an unlikely star in the guise of Vin Diesel as anti-hero and murderer Richard B Riddick. Gruff, terse and violent, Diesel somehow makes Riddick likeable giving him his own (admittedly skewed) code and sense of honour. It would have been easy for both Diesel and the writers to set Riddick up as the bad guy, yet they resist this temptation. Despite his violent nature, you cant help admire his determination to survive, whatever the cost. Diesel himself looks the part, acting distant and cool (in both senses of the word). Indeed, he seems to have found his perfect role (although, as a former bouncer, you do suspect this isnt much of a stretch for him!) Certainly, hes never done anything else anywhere near as good.
The central plot is so simple that the film is easy to get into and fun to watch. From the start its a battle for survival, which automatically brings an element of tension. As new developments make the situation more perilous, the survivors start to fall apart. This adds to the tension and gets you unsettled and on edge even before the monsters come out to play. The fact that none of the cast are big names adds to this, because its virtually impossible to predict who will survive and who will die.
Credit must also go to David Twohys assured directing. Filmed in bleached, washed out colours (again, partially due to budget constraints!), theres a real other-worldly feel to the planet the survivors land on. This creates a surprisingly disconcerting sense of displacement and disorientation.
Recognising that his plot is fairly flimsy, Twohy doesnt hang around when it comes to the running time. Its fairly short and the script ensures that new revelations happen at regular intervals to keep interest levels high. There arent many points where your attention starts to wander or you are teetering on the edge of boredom. Twohy recognises that the dark gimmick can only be used for so long before it becomes tiresome and annoying and manages to end the film just in time!
Despite the deliberately unsettling tone, theres some evidence that Pitch Black has its tongue planted in its cheek. There are definite elements of (pitch) black humour in there, which will make you smile and do help to lighten the mood a little.
Twohy also takes the sensible decision not to reveal the monsters until fairly late in the film. Again, this was partially forced by budget considerations, but actually adds quite a bit to the atmosphere. For long periods, the monsters are unseen, or hidden in shadows. Just like in Jaws, this is actually more unsettling than if we saw them in all their glory early on. In fact, when the monsters are finally revealed, it is a bit of an anti-climax. Its not that they are poor, just that they are nothing new and not particularly scary.
Lack of originality is, indeed, one of the criticisms which could fairly be laid at the feet of the film. It features identikit characters. With the exception of Riddick, they are sketchily written and could have been lifted from virtually any other science fiction film. This does help the film maintain a strong pace, as it doesnt get bogged down in background information or character motivation. Equally though, it does cause problems when the killing starts, either because its difficult to remember who is already dead and who still survives, or because theres no emotional attachment, so the fate of the characters is irrelevant. Even the ending fails to have the impact the writers clearly hope it will.
The plot too is startlingly unoriginal its little more than the original Alien on a planet instead of a spaceship. Its been done hundreds of times before - and better. However, the fact that that the action takes place in the dark and the gimmick that Riddick can see in the dark, helps to give it a slightly different angle and feeling of freshness.
The problem is that, although this dark element is the films saviour in some respects, it is its Achilles Heel in another. The darkness can make it a little difficult to see what is happening at times and this makes some of the action confusing. Although for the most part it is well-shot, the darkness, combined with Twohys occasionally shaky camera style can cause problems. This is particularly true towards the end of the film, when the action element is cranked up and its sometimes tricky to make out what is happening.
True horror fans will also be a little disappointed, as Pitch Black is neither particularly scary nor violent. Theres very little in the way of blood and although there are a few minor attempts to startle the audience, these are very half-hearted and wont catch veteran horror films by surprise.
For all these criticisms, through Pitch Black still manages to provide yet another slightly different interpretation on the survive the monsters theme. Its unique selling point, taut script and mostly good direction help to make an entertaining, yet disposable addition to the sci-fi genre.
Director; David Twohy
Running time: approx. 110 minutes
The stunt where Riddick dislocates his shoulder was performed for real by Vin Diesel.
© Copyright SWSt 2007
Budgets on films can have a huge impact on the finished product. On many occasions a films budget will be too small and this may be reflected on the screen by unknown actors or poor sets and CGI. In other cases, a budget may actually be too high giving the director dilutions of grandeur, overcomplicating a story and making it a farce. This happened a couple of years ago to the Vin Diesel vehicle The Chronicles of Riddick, the screen was full of so much overpowering science fiction nonsense that the story just shrivelled up and died. So why did they make the film in the first place? That would be due to the success of the 2000 prequel Pitch Black, a film which showed what could be achieved on a limited budget.
In the vastness of space a group of intergalactic travellers are in hypersleep when their ship gets hit by a meteor shower. Before they can fully awaken they have crash landed on a liveable but strange planet with three suns. With only a few survivors they seek out to explore the planet. However, initial problems are caused by one of their own, Riddick (Vin Diesel), a convicted murderer on his way back to the slam. He has escaped and people are going missing. However, is it Riddick who is to blame or the strange noises coming from the dark? Eventually they may have to decide to let Riddick help them escape the planet because an eclipse is coming and flesh eating creatures come out at night.
Pitch Black has a plot that is pure B movie schlock a monster of the week, if you will. However, when done correctly this kind of story can be compelling and scary. The monsters on show here, or not as the case may be, are not particular original in that they fear the light but as a special effect they are excellent. Designed by award winning Patrick Tatopoulos (Independence Day) the creatures look really good, even if the budget of the film was lower than average.
Another element that makes this film stand out from the average is the acting. All the supporting actors play their part and several are notable Australian thespians. However, it is the central performance of Riddick by Vin Diesel that makes this film a sci-fi horror classic. Diesel is now a well known actor but before this film he was not. Therefore, to see his character rise out of the ensemble to lead was a real surprise and soon became one of the best anti heroes of recent times. Riddick is portrayed as evil by his jailor but Diesel gives him a humanity that makes you forget the killer he really is. It is the charisma and naked animal charm of Diesel that makes this, potentially loathsome, character a success.
The direction from David Twohy should also be praised. On a limited budget he has managed to stick to the rule less is more. We are not bombarded with special effects continuously but are instead baited into traps by great direction, lighting and set design. Like Jaws and Alien before it, Pitch Black works because it is more about the characters story than the monsters impact. It is unfortunate that Twohy lost all credit for this film by the bombshell that was The Chronicles of Riddick. The sequel to Pitch Black is everything that it is not over budget, over produced and over awful. Directors like Twohy and Steven Sommers (The Mummy) work best when their artistic temperaments are curtailed by a limited budget.
The film is a horror and does have some scary moments. The level of gore is relatively high in parts but not on the scale of recent horror pictures. I think that it is watchable by those that do not like ultra violent or scary movies more Deep Blue Sea than Nightmare on Elmstreet. So would I advise you buy this film? If you love sci fi or horror and collect DVDs then maybe yes. If I where you, I would check your TV listings regularly and next time you see it on, make some popcorn, switch off the lights and enjoy.
Director: David Twohy
Actors: Vin Diesel
Price: Amazon UK £6.97
Two Commentaries from the director and the actors. Ok if you like that kind of thing but nothing of real worth.
Watching "Pitch Black for the umteenth time, I was again enthralled be the deapth of Vin Diesel's acting capabilities. Every one of his features, his character performance is completely believable. As Riddick, his character is wholly unexplained, and in Dark Fury, and the Chronacles of Riddick, we are still left with two questions. Who are the Furians, and what beginning, would have caused Riddick to become such a wanted criminal, being persued by every mercenary in the "Chronacle of Riddick Universe." As with "Batman Begins", where is Riddick Begins. There would be an action film to be seen and enjoyed. Speed, action, suspense,violence, and a dark hero. One could even throw in sex, a small amount, to get the women even "more" interested in Vin. Riddick's coming of age, his first crimes, his first kills, the destruction of his people. Wouldn't he be considered the "MOSES" of the Furians? The only survivor of a Race and Culture, striped for the populaces of the Universe. If the Necro's destroyed the Furians, who set the Mercenaries after Riddick. Start with these questions, and fill in the blanks!
I remembered going to see Pitch Black at the cinema and I remembered I liked it but as is usual for my brain which refuses to store anything but the most necessarily of facts, I had completely forgotten the story itself. I had vague recollections but little more. In an effort to avoid the sludge of Saturday night TV (after 'Strange' of course) I settled down with a borrowed video to watch Pitch Black again. Cutting his teeth in his first lead role, Vin Diesel plays Riddick the possibly psychopathic killer being transported under heavy guard on the good ship Hunter-Gratzner . He's mean, he's dangerous, he's built like the proverbial house. Apparently he is eye candy for the girls (but doesn't do it for me I'm afraid!). Hunter-Gratzner however, is a cargo ship carrying 39 passengers and some rather valuable cargo. All asleep whilst travelling in deep space, the passengers get a rude awakening as their ship disappears off it's flight path and then crashes into a planet in the vicinity of the constellation of Taurus. Feisty acting Captain Carolyn manages to land the ship but not without considering dumping the majority of the passengers first. The human's drive to survive is one of the main themes of the movie. Carolyn doesn't want to be the Captain but with the real Captain and first officers dead she has to take the part. Whether the ship was sabotaged is one of the questions we never really get an answer to. It becomes a moot point as the remains of the crew first deal with the fact that Riddick has managed to escape his chains, their ship is a wreck and there doesn't seem to be a great deal of water on the barren desert of a planet they find themselves on. This is a place where trees on the horizon become great skeletal graveyards of giant dead creatures not unlike our dinosaurs. Finally the group discover a base but not a soul can be found living there. In a room full of shadows sits a model of the plane
t and the three suns that surround it. Some hairy encounters with some half-seen creatures later, Fry realises the planet is about to move into an eclipse - an event that happens once every 22 years. By this point Riddick is already the object of a great deal of suspicion and fear, the object of awe by a young boy called jack and the least of their problems as everyone realises the creatures on the planet hate the light and love the dark. Cue eclipse and a billion hungry aliens. Pitch Black is unashamedly cribbed from the Aliens films. Even the creatures remind us of the big bitch from Alien 2 (and I don't mean Sigourney). None of this seems to matter though as Pitch Black despite it's unoriginality manages to build a tense movie with a pacey script and some excellent special effects. Made on a budget that's just plainly embarrassing, Pitch Black shows just what you can do when you get an adequate cast, director and writer. You don't necessarily get a brilliant film but you do get something highly watchable and entertaining. Director David Twohy had already done some fine work on the Warlock films and Waterworld (even if the latter was utterly abysmal as far as story was concerned), so we do get some fascinating shots of the desert with that bleached out look which makes you want to drink water as your watching. The set itself is dramatic with the giant bones and strange termite like structures that prove to be home to the dreaded aliens. Wheat brothers, Jim and Ken do manage to put together a script that keeps the story being told. Again it isn't hugely inventive and they seem to have tried hard to get that one memorable line such as 'I'll be back', and 'make my day'. I don't think they really manage to pull that off but there's the occasional line that will make you smile if not laugh. They do manage to put a little bit of a twist on the will they won't they survive theme so kudos to t
hem. The score is by Graeme Revell who has some excellent credits to his name such as Dune. It definitely enhances the feel of the movie and fits well with the camera work. It has that primal heartbeat 'I'm in danger' feel to it. Radha Mitchell plays Carolyn well and manages to give the character some depth despite the fact that her script doesn't give her a lot of room to manoeuvre. Quite impressive really seeing as she's ex Neighbours chaff. Vin Diesel also works adequately as Mr. Beefcake and I do have to say that I came out of the show thinking 'I want to have eyes like that!'. For reference Riddick has had a surgical procedure on his eyes that gives him the ability to see movement in the dark - hence the interesting special effects. If I had to complain it would be the poor use of the utterly gorgeous Farscape actress Claudia Black (to whom the title of this piece is dedicated). Trying not to give too much away here but Claudia fans may be disappointed to find that she doesn't really make her presence felt and that the casting director didn't spot that perhaps she could have played Carolyn even better that Rhada. Not to mention the fact that she's called 'Shazza'! Long live Aeryn whatever the networks say! If you are a general fan of sci-fi I would definitely put this down on the one to watch list if you haven't already. Despite the fact that it's low budget and laughably unoriginal it manages to get away with it by producing something pretty slick, tense and highly entertaining.
The Movie Sci-Fi movies have always been something of a mixed bag in my opinion. For every good one there are countless other bad ones...or should that be really bad ones. Fortunately, you have places like this to let people in on the good ones and this, dear reader, is a good one. The plot is simple and derivative but in terms of great ways to spend an evening in front of the goggle box, it provides all any fan of the sci-fi/action genre could wish for. We begin in space with a routine flight to the planet dubbed New Mecca. However, it is doomed to never get there as a meteor shower forces its crew of of hyper-sleep and into a crash-landing on the nearest planet, a desert planet burned constantly by the white heat of its three suns. Few survive and amongst those is a multiple murdered who was being transported to a prison planet in chains but who escaped in the confusion after the crash. There is no night here, just eternal day and no life whatsoever. Or is there? It's no secret to say that the crew soon find that day turns to night here once every 20 years and that murderer Riddick's(Vin Diesel) escape is the least of their worries because when it does, the beasties come out to feed...and guess what? It's soon going to be feeding time and the crew who imprisoned and were hunting Riddick are going to need to turn to his love of violent chaos to help them through the night... David Twohy takes a smallish budget here and manages to turn in a stonkingly entertaining movie. Yes, it's a little hokey, yes it borrows many ideas from other movies, most notably the Aliens franchise, but when it's this much fun who cares right? Pitch Black is fun and it is rather well made as well and was in many ways the springboard for Vin Diesel's continuing career as the new darling of the action movie genre. Here he is great, launching himself into the Arnie style role he has been given with gusto, delivering the occasional one
-liner and generally looking mean and kicking butt. The rest are equally good, although they slip neatly into stereotypical quirky action movie style roles after the opening 30 minutes which are rather impressively written for this genre. As soon as the beasties show themselves you start picking out the victims and it's just a matter of waiting for when...or is it? Pitch Black has a few surprises up it's sleeve in this respect. Yes, you've got the same stereotypes thrown into the cinematic mixing bowl but the result which pops out of the oven is something very different than what you'll be expecting I assure you. It's rare to see surprises in this kind of movie, Pitch Black gets brownie points for having them. In terms of special effects there are some absolutely gorgeous shots here of alien landscapes and outer space nebulae and all that jazz. Particularly impressive is the way in which the planet during daylight has been filmed through a kind of washed out lens(there's a term they use for it but I forget now!) which gives the whole of the opening section a white hot, scorched and very alien feel to it. It's a little off-putting at first(and you'd be forgiven for wondering if the colour saturation is on the blink lol) but once that initial discomfort disappears then it really draws you in. Good too are the creature effects, a mix of digital jiggery-pokery and puppeteering on the big dudes(which resemble a cross between a giant bat, the alien from Aliens and a hammerhead shark) and pure CG on the flocks of the creatures which circle around over head constantly. Cleverly, they've made sure you never really get to focus too long on most of the creatures and by making them flock together you can't anyway but it looks incredibly impressive! For sure there are some rather brainless moments and there comes a time when to push the story along the screenplay has someone go off and do something incredibly stupid but
for the most part it's well written even if it does decend into cliche once the creature feature kicks in. Overall, it's a really entertaining movie, not one which offers much in the way of intellectual stimulation but makes perfect bubblegum for the eyes to chew over and is well worthy of a rental at least. Oh and if you do check it out, then it simply has to be on DVD because that's the only way you'll get the full alien effects of the daylight footage...I swear it didn't look as good in the cinema and undoubtedly won't look as good on VHS either. The DVD Well then, onto the Disc itself. Not bad, not great but yes umm, not bad lol. In terms of the picture and sound quality then yep. no problems. It's a new disc of a relatively major release so you'd expect nothing else really. Picture quality is sharp, grainless and free from damage. The colour hues are 'odd' and unsettling during the daylight shots...but that's how they're meant to be and the bleaching technique used to give the alien landscape its white hot effect really comes to lfe on the DVD, far better than if you've seen this on video or in the cinema. Oh yeah, it's an anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 thingumy as well if you need to know such things. In terms of sound, you are given a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 so no complaints there either. I'd love to ramble on about the quality of the audio transfer further but I'm stuck with playing discs straight through my TV speakers here so I'll just say - 'tis good, I've not noticed anything 'wrong' with the audio so I've no complaints and no particular accolades to bestow upon it either. What else? Umm, well the menu isn't particularly intuitive but there aren't that many extras so you'll not care. At least it doesn't feel the need to blast you with a montage of all the good bits of the movie before you eve
n get to the 'play movie' option. Personal bugbear, and it doesn't apply here so I'm happy. Extras So, onto the extras then...not as many as I would have liked but all the ones you'd probably expect. I would have liked some deleted scenes and some more info. on the making of the movie in terms of documentary footage for a start but you get what you're given and I've seen worse. Commentaries There are two commentaries on this disc, one from the director with stars Vin Diesel and Cole Hauser and the other from the director, producer and visual effects supervisor. I kinda think when they put two commentaries on a disc it's because someone didn't want to put the extra expense into making additional documentaries but there ya go. Are these worth listening to? Always, in my opinion, but no, they're not the most interesting or informative commentaries you've ever heard. Do count the number of times Vin Diesel says 'Loved this' or words matching closely in the first because it accounts for at least 50% of his contribution lol. To be fair, it sounds like they loved the movie erm, to the point where they get too into watching it at points and forget they're meant to be commenting! Hauser in particular is one you'll forget is even there by halfway. The other commentary is better though, focusing upon the technical aspects of the movie and explaining the motive behind some of the plot elements which helps explain a few things you'd have probably missed or not fully caught on to first time around. Webcast - Pitch Black rave events Apparently they organised various rave parties across the US shortly before this movie was released which were intended to 'immerse people into the Pitch Black experience'. Yes, that's right they unleashed a screaming host of ravenous bat creatures to tear apart a bunch of drugged up clubbers...oh no
wait, no they dimmed the lights gave them fluorescent rods, unleashed the likes of Carl Cox and filmed them boogying down. I misunderstood what the Pitch Black experience was all about. :P Anyhoo, they did that which is a cool way to advertise if you ask me and then broadcast the events live across the web...and now you can watch them here. Personally, I can't really see the appeal of watching other people erm, 'raving' for 20-odd minutes but there ya go, it's here if you want it... Trailers Two promo trailers as always are provided on the disc. I can't see the point in having them as ever but they're here. Making Of Featurette Umm, very short and rather like an extended trailer. The one thing which really disappointed me about this DVD release was basically that they put so little effort into showing all the behind the scenes stuff. I kinda do like seeing how they created the creature effects, watching the puppets being built up from a block of clay or whatever and all that jazz. In sci-fi movies, particularly one packed with these kinds of effects, there is plenty of scope for this kind of intruiging extra but there is nothing like it on this release. There's a little here, but it's pretty much a whistlestop tour of the obvious aspects and very much like an extended trailer because most of the time is taken up by movie clips. Production Notes, Cast and Crew Bios The reading bits, for those who buy films for a good read. Actually, considering the rather sparse information given in the audio commentaries, the production notes are actually worth reading this time around. Cast and crew bios are the usual kind of thing, you're either interested or you're not, personally, well there's a few relative unknowns here so again, more interesting than usual. Overall To sum up then, the movie is a good one, definitely one of the bet
ter sci-fi offerings of recent times and whilst not exactly particularly clever or groundbreaking it will offer a fair bit of entertainment and does have a certain amount of rewatchability...always good if you're buying it! The washed out imagery during the daylight scenes is very off-putting at first but you soon get used to it and really come to appreciate its purpose and the DVD provides the very best platform to see the technique at its best so if you are going to buy the movie, make sure you get it on DVD because the image quality is important here. In terms of extras, it's not great and probably makes this a 3.5 star offering but the movie itself raises to 4 stars. Buy, watch and enjoy...and don't turn out the light, you never know what might be lurking out there!