Eye For Film >> Movies >> Pitch Black (2000) Film Review
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
A spacecraft crashlands on an alien planet. The captain of the ship is killed. Caroline, the inexperienced co-pilot, takes command. As well as survival, there is another problem. What to do with the prisoner?
Riddick is on his way to some maximum security star where galactic bad boys are held for violent and persistent crimes. It's a one-way-ticket-in-chains and, right now, in the body of this wrecked craft, the psycho killer is planning escape.
On one level, Pitch Black is a power struggle between Caroline and Johns (Cole Hauser), the macho hard line security officer, who considers his relationship with Riddick personal. On another, there is an eclectic group of survivors intent on finding water and living through another day.
And then there are the creatures. At first, they appear like bats, swooping down in squealing swarms, followed by others, even more vicious, like prehistoric beasts from a dinosaur age, that respond to the smell of blood.
They are nocturnal, afraid of fire and light. The earthlings will be safe as long as they don't bleed, or let their torch batteries run out.
This daughter-of-aliens scenario demands a big budget for effects and space monsters, as well as B-list Hollywood names in the key roles. David Twohy has neither, which forces him to use imagination as an alternative energy source. It works so much better than the full James Cameron, because fear is in the mind, not expensively manufactured on a gigantic studio set in California.
The performances are fresh (Radha Mitchell as Caroline) and menacing (Vin Diesel as Riddick). The been-there-done-that attitude towards a lost in space plot evaporates quickly. Once you accept that a barren rocky planet has gravity and oxygen, just like the Gobi desert, the movie becomes less Mission To Mars and more The Lost World.
The style of Twohy's film, tightly scripted by brothers Jim and Ken Wheat, leaves room for surprise and gives a meaning to the expression "afraid of the dark".Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001