Thursday, 4 April 2013


So the world got a little bit excited when this trailer was released. 23 seconds of video have made people crawl out of their holes, pull on some goggles, and see the light again. Why? They've been waiting nine years for those 23 seconds. Later on this year, we will see the full feature, but for now, lets take a step back in time and see where this all started. This is Pitch Black.

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? 
Some people believe that everybody is born for a reason. There should be no doubt that Vin Diesel was born to play Riddick. A perfect balance of creepy and cocky that solidifies his persona as a stone cold killer. He steals the show and, apart form a brief voice over, he doesn't even talk for the first half an hour. But in that time, we see him escape twice, get caught twice, and fashion a knife out of bone in order to, what appears to be, minor hairdressing. Hmmm. His performance, alongside the will-do-anything-to-survive attitudes of Burke as Hauser as Johna and Mitchell as Fry, really creates the atmosphere of the film when the low budget-ness of everything can sometimes jar. At the start we are introduced to all the survivors just through looks but all of the actors develop their characters individually and create a wonderful ensemble performance that leaves you to decide who you like and who you would like to see die. Fantastic performances all round, but, again, it is Vin Diesel who steals the show. No wonder he got two sequels named after his character.

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.'

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