Pitch Black
3.5 out of 5 stars

Not alone. Survivors search for water

See also:
The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) Riddick (2013)

dir David Twohy
scr David Twohy, Ken Wheat, Jim Wheat
with Radha Mitchell, Vin Diesel, Cole Hauser, Keith David, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Claudia Black, Rhiana Griffith , John Moore, Simon Burke, Les Chantery, Sam Sari, Firass Dirani
00/Australia Grammercy
Review by Rich Cline
With a witty script and a cool sense of building dread, Pitch Black is a surprisingly entertaining sci-fi thriller. Maybe it's due to the Australian filmmakers, who fill each frame with a dry, subtle humour and keep the story surprising, even as it sticks to the predictable rules of the genre.

In deep space, a ship's crew wakes up from suspended animation to find themselves plunging from the sky onto a desert planet with three suns and no signs of life. We have the usual stock characters: unproven young leader (Mitchell), hothead supercop (Hauser), murderous prisoner (Diesel), sardonic gentleman (Fitz-Gerald) and a bunch of kids, for some reason. And just as they discover that the planet is about to be plunged into a 22-year night, they realise that there are hungry nocturnal predators (giant flying bat-scorpions!) looking for fresh meat.

The premise is utterly routine, but the cast and crew bring it to life with lots of details. Mitchell is terrific at the centre, self-doubts colliding with responsibility and fear. And Diesel is a bundle of surprises--energetic, funny and never who you think he is. These kinds of twists help overcome the routine infighting and power struggles, and the laughable do-something-stupid-and-die set-up. The film looks fantastic, with above average effects balancing nicely against a low-tech, clanky future (shades of Mad Max). Twohy's direction is brisk and stylish, with some nifty directoral touches that keep things both fun and scary, no matter how silly it is underneath.

[15--violence, language] 18.Aug.00
US release 18.Feb.00; UK release 20.Nov.00

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Pitch Black "A disappointment. The alien in Alien was far more frightening than the flying objects in the darkened planet's tunnels. Of course, the woman pilot had to go investigate. Should have lost her early on. If you see body parts, don't you naturally assume that something is not quite right in Denmark? The only redeeming features of this movie were the 'bad guy' becoming the 'good guy' and the cinematography. Thank goodness we didn't have to leave the theatre thinking we were left with the pilot." --Frank D, net.

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© 2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall