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With forty passengers on board, technical problems force the spaceship Hunter-Gratzner to crash land on a distant planet. The passengers were heading for other worlds and only ten have managed to survive, but one of them, Riddick (Vin Diesel), is an armed and dangerous convict determined to take control of events. The planet at first seems barren, with no evidence of water or living creatures, but when the sun sets the survivors discover they have the planet's terrifying nightlife to contend with.
Owing a major debt to Alien and its cinematic spawn, Pitch Black is a guilty pleasure that surpasses expectations. As he did with The Arrival, director David Twohy revitalises a derivative story, allowing you to forgive its flaws and submit to its visceral thrills. Under casual scrutiny, the plot's logic crumbles like a stale cookie, but it's definitely fun while it lasts. A spaceship crashes on a desert planet scorched under three suns. The mostly doomed survivors include a resourceful captain (Radha Mitchell), a drug-addled cop (Cole Hauser), and a deadly prisoner (Vin Diesel) who quickly escapes. These clashing personalities discover that the planet is plunging into the darkness of an extended eclipse, and it's populated by hordes of ravenous, razor-fanged beasties that only come out at night. The body count rises, and Pitch Black settles into familiar sci-fi territory.
What sets the movie apart is Twohy's developing visual style, suggesting that this veteran of B-movie schlock may advance to the big leagues. Like the makers of The Blair Witch Project, Twohy understands the frightening power of suggestion; his hungry monsters are better heard than seen (although once seen, they're chillingly effective), and Pitch Black gets full value from moments of genuine panic. Best of all, Twohy's got a well-matched cast, with Mitchell (so memorable with Ally Sheedy in High Art) and Diesel (Pvt. Caparzo from Saving Private Ryan) being the standouts. The latter makes the most of his muscle-man role, and his character's development is one more reason this movie works better than it should. --Jeff Shannon
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I remember getting Pitch Black on US import DVD about 5 weeks before it was due out at the cinema here in the UK (almost a year before the UK DVD release) due to a February cinematic release in the US compared to an October release here , and it was a directors cut no less , but sadly , those days of getting movies weeks before their actual UK cinema release are long gone , as nearly all movies on DVD/Blu-ray in the US are now released at the same time (give or take) as the UK , so I find there is little point buying imports anymore.
This is arguably the film that launched Vin Diesel's career and , with what I thought was an excellent sequel that followed (apparently the critics didn't liked it) , it didn't just rehash the same storyline like so many sequels do , it completely opened up the Riddick universe and was turning out to be an excellent franchise.
As for the most recent instalment in the franchise , its fair to say the story has gone back to the first film , but still enjoyable enough... I'm not a big fan of Vin Diesel movies , but I do like his Riddick franchise which he has made his own and I could quite happily sit and watch all 3 movies in one sitting , and rumour has it , he's signed up to do more.
Visually the Blu-ray transfer is excellent. The scene where Riddick is chained up after the death of Zeke , the detail on his hair (what little there is) is quite remarkable. Even the alien creatures , which looked rather flat on the original DVD , gain incredible detail.
The contrast of going from having 3 suns to all out darkness , the black levels are solid and don't suffer the jerkiness that the DVD suffered from.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS master audio and is quit impressive given the low budget of this film , and the opening crash sequence is definitely one for the sound demo-ests out there with a decent audio setup... Although the best sound demo ever that still ranks No:1 for me is , Star Wars: A New Hope and the shutting down (or whining down) of the sub-light engines on the Millennium Falcon on its approach to the destroyed planet of Alderaan... It just can't be beat !
The extras are ok , but nothing really to shout about from what you got on DVD. There is a picture-in-picture behind the scenes feature that you now get along with a couple of other additions (U-Control for e.g.) but for £7 this is excellent value and very worthy of an upgrade.
The role of Riddick really suits Vin Diesel, and he plays it perfectly. The plot and pace are nicely balanced - just fast enough to keep the tension building but with some strategic pauses to actually develop the characters far more than the norm in slasher sci-fi.
It’s amazing how far you can stretch a small budget with some very clever FX and filters, a couple of charismatic actors and a nifty twist on the old ‘aliens ate my crewmates’ storyline.
There’s nothing in Pitch Black which hadn’t already been done by Ridley in Alien, and then re-done again with Arnie in Predator. But none of those had Claudia Black in them, nor that sneakily brilliant wheeze of giving Riddick a pair of glinting eyes.
And it does start with a simply brilliant spaceship crash, and I’m a sucker for spaceships falling out of the sky.
The budgets in the two later films get bigger but the original one is hard to beat.
Watching Pitch Black on a small screen, I felt it looked cheaply produced, due to the filter used in the cinematography, but this rapidly changed during the second half of the movie, when the pace of the film changes rapidly.
Invariably Vin Diesel really is the highlight of the movie (for a change) , along with quite a reasonable supporting cast, and a spectacular enemy that really is worth waiting to see.
Originality isn't high in Pitch Black, and other movies such as Aliens are better, but Pitch Black is a well put together Sci -Fi Movie that deserves a watch.