"Pitch Black" (2000)

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Pitch Black (2000)
Directed by: David Twohy
Running time: 109 minutes

Hello everyone. I was planning to review Horrible Bosses this week as I thought it would be released by now but it turns out I was a week ahead of myself and it doesn’t come out in Australia until next week. So since I also didn’t get the chance to watch Cowboys & Aliens either, I’m reviewing an older film that I watched on Blu-Ray earlier in the week. Enjoy!

Now Showing this week is Pitch Black which was directed by David Twohy and had its cinematic release back in 2000. It told the story of a working class transport ship that, while travelling through deep space, came in contact with some loose debris from a nearby comet. The debris punctured the hull, through the captain’s cryo-stasis tube and killing him, and cause the ship to begin losing pressure. The navigation officer Fry (Radha Mitchell) instigates a rather destructive emergency landing on a nearby desert planet. They suffer heavy casualties but a small group of survivors made it out alive. However, one of the passengers on board the ship is an escaped serial killer named Riddick (Vin Diesel) who was being transported back to jail, and since the crash he has disappeared. Now the survivors must find a way to either call for help or fly off this planet, all the while a dangerous serial killer is on the loose. The survivors also get the impression that there are creatures living under the ground of the planet, unable to come out into the sun. The planet having three suns means that they shouldn’t be an issue; but with a title like “Pitch Black”, one assumes that the daylight is only temporary…

This film was a favourite of mine when I was a kid, simply because I love a good monster sci-fi movie. But watching it now, I realise that there is more in it then I originally saw at 10 years old. The development of Fry and Riddick was not really apparent to me when I originally saw it. And while Fry’s development was a very simple “jaded at the beginning of the film, but compassionate by the end” sort of deal, Riddick is a very interesting character. You’d think he would be a simple “monster at beginning, human being by the end” character, but he actually goes through several changes back and forth. But then I ask myself, does he really? Perhaps he was a monster for the entire thing, just a very clever monster. I’d have to spoil the film to explain further, so I won’t, but I found him to be a very interesting character (particularly for a Vin Diesel character!).

The one major complaint I would have for this film is the lighting. Not that it’s too dark, for a film called “Pitch Black” I would expect it to be dark, just when the suns go down behind the other planets there is sometimes more light on screen then could be believably created by the survivors. Most of the time these are explainable by a tiny glow of the suns on the rim of the planet in the sky; or the slight twinkle of stars; but there are a few times when you look at the film and think “wow, they are quite well lit for a bunch of people carrying burning liquor bottles!”.

But if that is my only complaint for the film then I reckon that isn’t too bad. Everything else is quite good: the monsters are scary (and mainly hidden, which is a plus for horror!), the acting is fine and so is the character development. Now, the character development isn’t like Lord of the Rings or something; but the opening sections, before the monsters come out, give the audience an indication of the kinds of people each one of the survivors are and that later justifies the actions they make once the film gets into motion. A lot of them don’t develop since their flaws get them killed, but they all make sense which is something I appreciate. A character doesn’t necessarily have to develop across a story as long as all their decisions make sense to the audience based on their established character traits.

In closing, I suggest you check Pitch Black out. Just don’t check out the sequel: The Chronicles of Riddick. It was disappointing like having a great meal at a restaurant, and then on returning for a second time all you were served was the chef’s excrement on a plate. See you next time!

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