Pitch Black Reviews
The plot isn't quite as predictable as one would expect and the premise makes a pretty original survival. The provocative moral struggles in the end are also something to behold. It's no Aliens 1 or 2 but it's definitely good enough for a watch.
Its a simple tale really, hardly original, just a basic survivor thriller set in space. A group of people on a spaceship are forced to crash land on a remote desolate planet. The planet is a vast arid desert with no signs of life or water or so they think. Into the fold comes 'Riddick', a prisoner who was being transported by a merc. At first he seems a threat to the stranded crew but they all soon realise they are not alone on the planet and must trust Riddick to help them.
So yeah its nothing special in terms of plot, the planet they crash on is yet another desert planet (popular in sci-fi) and the hunter/prey aspect is as old as the hills. The cast playing the crew are pretty bland also, none of them really interest you, the strong female lead played by Mitchell is actually annoying and an obvious wannabe 'Ripley' type character (difficult to avoid that comparison I'm afraid). The fact she wanted to kill the crew to try and save the ship as it went down just annoyed me even more, some leader. But I guess that sets up the finale doesn't it, she was still annoying though.
The rest are dull, Keith David playing some religious Muslim preacher type and Hauser as usual being the shifty guy, the rest are merely alien fodder. Its no surprise at all that the film is saved and interest levels are heightened by Riddick the criminal. Its not specifically because he has big muscles, but mainly because he's a bad ass, a typical Clint Eastwood type anti hero who doesn't say that much, growls a lot, mutters the odd cool tagline, has a rebellious anti society/law view on life and an all round kick your ass attitude. Of course his glow in the dark night vision eyes just look uber cool and add to the intrigue. A real 'Snake Plissken' type character in all essence but he doesn't show much evidence of being a cold killer as tagged throughout.
Admittedly it is a disappointment that you find out he paid a surgeon for his special eye job because he needed it for a spell in a dark dank prison. This kinda takes away the mystery behind that idea as you tend to think he's some kind of special mutant-like human or something. Although as we all know we do find out he isn't human after all...in the sequel.
I think the other thing that impresses with the film is the visuals and especially the way the film has been lit. You can see the film has been purposely overly lit (almost over exposed) for most outside planet sequences to try and show a more alien terrain and atmosphere. Its a simple trick really that shows initiative and does work at times although at others it can look cheap. There is also a nice variety of color intensities going on throughout too, all to show various perspectives (often forced) such as alien vision, Riddick's vision, heat, reflective, shadow, glowing, cool etc...its all quite inventive.
But there are some nice CGI effects in here too, some nice skylines, space panorama's and a cool eerie eclipse. There were obviously limitations for the film and you can see this, but all in all everybody did really well to make the film look glossy and realistic. A classic example of having to think and work hard to make the film work, where as if you have too much money you can become too complacent and lazy letting too much CGI do it all for you.
The alien creatures are so so and not overly stunning. Nothing wrong with them, the bat concept works well for the story but they do look a bit too CGI, bit plastic and shiny. Really this could be called attack of the giant vampire bats in space, but hey its a sci-fi horror that's not suppose to be serious.
After watching I still gotta ask why the aliens don't often attack Riddick though. These creatures are suppose to be darkness feeders and attack anything they come across in the dark, even more so if its bleeding. Yet so many times Riddick is wandering around alone in the dark and never gets so much as a bite, weird. Also I'm guessing the aliens started to attack each other for lack of food? and the presence of aliens in this universe must be common knowledge? because no one is bothered when they come across the mass of alien skeletons on the planet (the big ones) or the live aliens.
Must just mention Riddick's goggles, he needs them for protecting his eyes in light, yet he does tend to wear them almost all the time, even in the dark. Many times in dark sequences he has the goggles on or removes them to see in the dark. If you're in the dark why not just take them off completely? you wouldn't need them at all. I'm guessing this is for the image, also to make the odd luminous eyes reveals more dramatic I think.
Yeah its silly in places but its not suppose to be ultra realistic. I mean would you be able to pop out of cryo-stasis without batting an eyelid, feeling right as rain within minutes ready to pilot an out of control spaceship? doubt it. The film has that happy balance of your typical action hero flick crossed with some semi serious sci-fi so its not completely ridiculous. The basic premise is a trashy B-movie-like sci-fi action flick and it could so easily of bombed, but it works perfectly mainly down to ingenious use of light effects and a superb anti hero character.
This is standard stuff, but the characters are interesting and abstract enough that you get absorbed into the story. Chief among these characters is Riddick, a convicted killer who's shined eyes can see in the dark. He's played by Vin Diesel who pulls off bad ass like no other. The dialogue is weak and the script is rather cliche, but with a cool soundtrack, nifty creature design, and a solid cast that includes Radha Mitchell, Keith David, and Cole Hauser as a shady bounty hunter, Pitch Black is intriguing and entertaining.
A group of marooned space travelers struggle for survival on a seemingly lifeless sun-scorched world.
A space ship carrying a cargo of commercial passengers is forced to crash land on an unidentified planet, which, although there doesn't seem to be a shred of animal life anywhere to be found, still manages to be somehow inhabited by swarms of carnivorous birdlike creatures that only come out at night. Ask not what these animals must feed on when there isn't a crew of fleshy earthlings conveniently placed there for them to nibble on. Such rigorous application of logic is not one of `Pitch Black's strongest selling points. Neither, in fact, is the cast of characters it has managed to assemble for the occasion. Here we have the typical `cross section of humanity' routinely called upon to make its appearance in films of this type. The ship's crew and passengers include two feisty young women, a hardnosed law enforcer (is he really a hero or a man with something to hide?), an effete wine-guzzling coward, an androgynous teenager (the `revelation' involving this character comes as a surprise only to the dimwitted characters in the film), a family of Muslims and a truth-seeing, muscle-bound serial killer who becomes the group's physical and intellectual mainstay.
The story, though simpleminded and derivative of any number of other better films, nevertheless, manages to border on the murky and incoherent quite often. We often aren't sure who is doing what or why (though, in all honesty, we don't particularly care either). The special effects are generally sub par for a film of this genre and the only real attempt to create an otherworldly atmosphere consists in applying various types of light filters to the camera lens. Completely lacking in suspense, excitement or originality (although the ending has a slightly unexpected twist), `Pitch Black' is strictly one for the video graveyard.
There's many a plot hole and some curious impulses by various characters, but at least some of the characters besides Riddick were somewhat well developed (although corny in the case of Radha Mitchell as the junior pilot and only survivor from the crew when their craft is forced to crash onto an unknown planet. Said planet has 3 suns - meaning, like the British Empire, the sun never sets... except every 22 years when there's an eclipse. The 400 lb gorilla in the room is that the "monsters" are nocturnal - uh huh, so they live underground and live off..... oh never mind.
Really, the film does use some nice sepia tones to show the harshness of a planet in total sunlight 24/7, and the cgi of the creatures is a cut above your usual "b film", but, while there is a bit of tension built up, the final outcome never seemed in question. I kept thinking of the Agatha Christie novel "Ten Little Indians" where the cast of characters are bumped off one by one. Same here, and really it was a shame to see Claudia Black (she of the great Farscape) bumped off so early.
However, all kidding aside, you could do much worse in viewing an action sci-fi type film, and the Diesel carries the goods here - his machismo is apropos to the character as is his particular brand of fatalism. Riddick has been called an "anti-hero" by many, but I continue to find him a man true to his own convictions, and while maybe those convictions aren't all warm and cuddly, they are honest and he's true to them - compare that to the bozos running for political office.
I'm somewhat of a rabid Radha Mitchell fan (the woman is gorgeous and talented; she should be a much bigger star), so seeing her in a solid, gritty sci-fi/horror flick like this is a pretty good use of two hours for me.
The basic story is about a transport ship (piloted by Mitchell's character) that is forced to crash land on an unknown planet. A planet that happens to be inhabited by deadly, light- sensitive predators that come out to feast every twenty-two years when a cosmic event shields the planet from its three suns for a time. One of the passengers of the ship also happens to be a deadly, light-sensitive predator (Vin Diesel) on his way back to the maximum-security prison world that he escaped from. The rest of the crash survivors are forced to rely on Riddick because of his ability to see in the dark and his natural survival instincts, but will he ultimately help them escape, or leave them to their dark fates?
Pitch Black isn't perfect. There are a few rather large plot holes (What do the beasts do for the rest of the twenty-two years, just hang out? And what do they live off of on such a barren planet?), but nothing that really took me out of the story. Some of the characters are overly dumb, annoying, or inexplicably antagonistic, but such story devices and character archetypes come along with the genre, more often than not. The special effects and monster designs do look their age, but that can be forgiven in a movie that's more than eleven years old, and they're really not any worse than what you'd see today on the average made-for-TV sci-fi flick. On the other hand, the filmmakers did do a good job of using visual trickery to make the outback of Australia where the movie was filmed look a lot like a harsh, alien world, and on a small budget I'm assuming. So they get props for that.
As for what I liked about Pitch Black, it was a pretty entertaining ride. Mitchell was great as the flawed, conflicted pilot unceremoniously promoted to leader, and Diesel was well- suited for Riddick, who's really the main character of the movie. There are likable characters to get attached to and fear for, several tense situations (though calling the movie scary would be a stretch), and a solid amount of action.
All in all, Pitch Black was a pleasant surprise. I was more impressed with Diesel than I've been at any other movie of his that I've seen, and none of the lesser elements of the movie are significant enough to stand out much. Recommended.
Wow. This is the 10th anniversary of "Pitch Black", a low-budget scifi thriller. Directed by David Twohy and starring Vin Diesel, the film will guarantee one hell of a thrill ride.
As the story develops, good or bad starts to lose its meaning. At the start of the film, Riddick (Vin Diesel) is portrayed as the villain but as the tension develops between the main characters, everything changes. This is one of the best elements of "Pitch Black"
Mr Twohy had a "small" budget (approx 20 mil) and 60 days to shoot. Boy, did he do a good job! Ok, the CGI is a bit out dated but still the creatures are very effective. They remind me a bit of the better known aliens made by HR Ciger. But the one thing that is surely perfect in "Pitch Black" is the cinematography. The daylight scenes are very good looking with an orange tone. The visuals are harsh and it serves the film very well. I'm always looking for something new and different and when I saw this for the first time, the visuals of "Pitch Black" had me.
Now, I still consider "Pitch Black" to be one of the best scifi horror movies. It's full of suspense and character twists that will surely give you an element of surprise. Vin Diesel is perfect for the role of Richard B. Riddick. Still, his most memorable character...
"Did not know who he was fuckin' with..."