Director: David Twohy
Running Time: 109 Minutes
“You aren’t afraid of the dark, are you?”
Richard B. Riddick, Pitch Black
While transporting cargo, passengers and one Richard B. Riddick (escaped convict, murderer), a commercial shipping vessel is caught in a comet storm. At least, that is what the surviving crew theorise. This pushes them off their flight path and straight into a nearby planet’s gravitational pull. Though severely damaged and a lot lighter, the ship crash lands with a few survivors. Riddick escapes, while the survivors start combing through the wreckage for salvage and other possible survivors.
It soon becomes apparent that Riddick is not the most dangerous thing on this planet. Their best chance of survival is to team up with each other to find a way off this rock.
Performance & Special Effects
I had no idea who Vin Diesel was when I saw this back in 2000. I’d never heard of him or Radha Mitchell but I really enjoyed both their performances, as Riddick and Fry, respectively. Cole Hauser (Johns) was the epitome of nemesis and Diesel played the role of anti-hero to perfection. I enjoyed that these characters were flawed, trying to get by and make the best of a situation with what they have. There is greed, cowardice, courage, fear and a myriad of other emotions and insights within this characters and cast.
The supporting cast was equally good. The writers created and interesting cross-section of individuals aboard the commercial shipping vessel. There were prospectors, a holy man and his sons, an unaccompanied minor and a rich, pretentious prick with a love for ancient artifacts and “life little luxuries”.
The special effects are amazing, even 16 years later. I fell in love with the creature/monster design. Patrick Tatopoulos‘ vision and execution was unique. The bi-pedal, sonar using, light sensitive raptors were the highlight of the film for me. The CGI is impressive and extremely well done, especially for the time.
This film was a bit of a dark horse that year, with a small and largely unknown cast, Keith David, and a great story. This is one of the most rewatched films in our household. The script is sharp, I particularly love the scenes of “Riddick vision” and the monsters do more than just go bump in the night. A small feature which made a massive impact on my was the sounds that the creatures make. They don’t sound like bats or dolphins, even though they use a type of sonar. It’s a very distinctive noise and always put the hair on the back on my neck on end when I hear it.
This wasn’t an especially complicated plot, and I’m sure that some would argue that this was just another summer action film but it really did come out of nowhere, which no marketing (not here is South Africa, anyway) and did ridiculously well. Boiler Room was released in the same year, close to the same date actually, and didn’t do even half as well as this film. Granted, it was an entirely different genre but it goes to show that the pull wasn’t Vin Diesel. If you’ve not watched it already and you enjoy some kinda science-y stuff, I urge you to take the time and give Pitch Black a go.
My rating: 5/5
Buy or rent Pitch Black from Amazon.
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