Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Movie Review: "Pitch Black" (2000)

Director: David Twohy
Year: 2000
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes

A transport ship carrying 40 passengers, including a wanted murderer named Riddick (Vin Diesel), crashes on what they believe to be a deserted planet. Shortly after the crash, Riddick escapes, which leaves the survivors on edge. However, they soon discover that Riddick is the least of their worries. 

"Pitch Black" is directed by David Twohy, who also wrote the film along with Jim and Ken Wheat. It is the first film in what would become an ongoing series of "Riddick" movies spanning the next decade and a half. It stars Vin Diesel as Riddick, a murderer being transported to prison on a commercial shuttle along with 40 civilians, all of whom are in cryosleep. When the ship is unexpectedly struck by numerous objects, it crashes down to the planet below. The survivors of the crash, beyond Riddick, are comprised of crew members Carolyn Fry, played by Radha Mitchell, Riddick's captor William J. Johns, played by Cole Hauser, and numerous other passengers played by the likes of Keith David, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Claudia Black, and Rhiana Griffith, to name a few. The crash allows Riddick to escape, which unnerves the survivors, but they all soon discover there are things on this strange planet a lot more dangerous than Riddick and his life of crime.

This film is a rather simple sci-fi action movie with an antihero protagonist. Vin Diesel has made a career out of playing the antihero, whether it be his portrayal as Riddick, Dominic Toretto, or Xander Cage. The movie starts off as a survival film with a bunch of people from all walks of life that must come together to find a way to get off of a planet which seems to have endless daylight and no water. It turns into a different kind of survival movie when blood-thirsty creatures are discovered living underground.

This was a modestly budgeted affair, but Twohy managed to make a fairly effective sci-fi monster survival movie despite its now dated CGI. The creatures are nocturnal on a planet with constant daylight, which seems counter-intuitive until an eclipse happens that will not end anytime soon. This allows these creatures to emerge from their holes and attack the survivors one by one. Once the lights go out, it becomes a desperate fight to stay alive against an insurmountable enemy. The best hope for the crew's survival is Riddick, considering he, just by chance, has surgically modified eyes that allow him to see in the dark. What a coinkydink. Apart from this contrivance, the acting isn't exactly great here. Radha Mitchell goes in and out of her Australian accent, which confused us. Vin Diesel plays essentially the same character he has played in every movie he's ever made, and that's the mumbling tough guy who spouts off one-liners whenever he gets the opportunity. There aren't any other notable portrayals, and while no one is so bad that it detracts from the movie, it's just not all that memorable.

"Pitch Black" has some intense and exciting moments sprinkled throughout its run time. Like we said, the special effects aren't terrible and the creatures are decent looking considering the movie's budget, even though there is essentially zero variation between them and these effects are now super dated. "Pitch Black" is a solid action flick that will keep you entertained.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 57%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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