Somewhere, out in space, the transport vessel, Hunter-Gratzner, is carrying 40 passengers suspended animation. One of these passengers is Riddick (Vin Diesel), an escaped convict and murderer who is being moved back to a slam. Away from humankind or even daylight. The ship is travelling in a ghost lane with no stops, and as a voice over from Riddick points out, that leaves a lot of time for something to go wrong. Incidentally, something goes wrong. The captain dies leaving the docking pilot, Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell) and navigator, Greg Owens (Simon Burke), to land the ship safely on an unknown planet. As the ship hurtles towards the ground, Fry starts ejecting parts of the ship to lose weight. At the last moment, she tries to jettison the passangers, but Owens stops her. The ship crashes leaving 11 survivors: Riddick's guard, William J. Johns (Cole Hauser), holy man Abu "Imam" al-Walid (Keith David) and three young men he is escorting on hajj, antiques dealer Paris P. Ogilvie (Lewis Fitz-Gerald), stowaway teenager Jack (Rhianna Griffith), settlers John 'Zeke' Ezekiel (John Moore) and his partner Sharon 'Shazza' Montgomery (Claudia Black), Fry, and Riddick. Riddick escapes and the crew become extremely concerned about him s but, along with difficulty breathing, a lack of water, and three suns blazing down on them, Riddick might be the least of their worries. Especially when it seems they are not alone on the planet and the darkness is approaching.
|Face-off... err... Face/hammerhead off?|
|And next on Literal TV: Stars In Their Eyes|
Pitch Black is a wonderfully cut together film. Speedy editing that captures the true essence of the movie as it develops. The first half is played almost like a sci-fi horror with Riddick appearing in the background of shots or being inter-spliced with shots of what is going on elsewhere with the survivors. The second act is more steadily paced with building suspense and tension as the darkness closes in on the characters. Not only this, but the writing keeps the character development believable and understandable, something that can get lost with big budget sci-fi thrillers. Issues rise with the 'pitch black' landscape often being reasonably well lit, but as irritating as it may be for the film pedants among you, it does not take away from the merits of the film. Wonderfully filmed otherwise; the small but bright lights beautifully penetrate the dark surroundings in the latter half of the film, a delightful, and somewhat creepy contrast, from the exciting and bright first half.
A truly enjoyable sci-fi that contains drama, thrills, creeps, and appeals to every instinct in the human body. Vin Diesel in his perfect role (though I still await a Time Splitters: Future Perfect film with him as Cortez) and a deeply satisfying plot with some great lines. ('You said it was clear!' 'I said it looked clear.' 'How does it look now?' '... Looks clear.') A thoroughly enjoyable watch.
Best Bit? The lighting, suspense, and general action in Riddick and Johns' fight is a particular highlight of the film.
Watch this spot for a review on the sequel: 'The Chronicles of Riddick.'