Pitch Black (2000) – David Twohy


The Sci-Fi Chronicles book has been serving me well lately, so I decided to stay with it for a bit longer, and consequently dug into the first Riddick film, Pitch Black. It’s a modest little film that helped launch Vin Diesel to fame when he took on the role of the ocularly augmented killer, and anti-hero – Riddick.

I remember not being a fan of it when I first watched it, 15 years ago, when it first came out, so I figured it was overdue for a re-watch and re-evaluation. I came away thinking it was better than I remember it, it’s still not the best sci-fi film, and honestly, the Riddick voice-over, and a lot of his dialogue is just horrible.

Twohy writes and directs, and the film finds a commercial spacecraft, carrying its passengers in stasis, all except Riddick, because apparently everything in the human body falls asleep in stasis but the animal part, and that, according to Riddick, is all he is. It’s that kind of writing that put off the film the first time, and still didn’t win me over this time.

Trouble happens when the ship crash lands on a forlorn problem, and they quickly discover that their troubles are just starting…

We get brief moments with most of the passengers and crew, amongst them, Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell), Imam (Keith David), Shazza (Claudia Black), Jack (Rhianna Griffith) and the merc who is bringing Riddick in, Johns (Cole Hauser), before things really go sideways. It seems there’s a lifeform on the planet that can’t abide the light, and hunts in the dark, difficult, when there are three suns, but on the rare occasion when a month-long eclipse happens (and hey, one is about to start), they overrun the planet… Which is weird, because what do they live off of, if they can’t stalk the surface the rest of the time, and it looks like there are no other flora or fauna on the planet to subsist on…



Anyway, when these folks realize that their lives will be at stake, and not just with the killer in their midst, an uneasy alliance is reached, and they all work to ready one small spacecraft for travel, while trying to keep their own secrets and agendas hidden. No one is playing completely honest, and no one can be completely trusted, and once darkness falls…

The story does move along at a fairly rapid pace, and is little more than a b-movie actioner. It’s entertaining for what it is, it isn’t pretending to be anything more than it is, but for me, it just wasn’t enough. I don’t always have to like the lead character, it certainly helps, but Diesel just didn’t make me believe in Riddick on any level.

That being said, even now, some 15 years on, most of the effects still look really good, there are a couple of goofy CG moments, but they tend to be quick. There’s a nice, forbidding visual look to the film that works nicely.

But now, of course, that tells you I still have to get through two more Riddick films…


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