Pitch Black (2000)

Directed by David Twohy
Written by David Twohy, Jim Wheat & Kevin Wheat
Starring Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Keith David, Lewis Fitz-Gerald

My Advice: Wait and Rent It.

Fry (Mitchell) is having a bit of a bad day. So a small mishap caused her to crashland her ship on a barren, bleak, uninhabited world. Okay, that's doable. But, well, you see, one of her passengers is a homicidal sociopath by the name of Riddick (Diesel)—and he's escaped. Errr, okay, situation's still under control. Ah, yes, but don't forget that the planet appears to be inhabited by nocturnal creatures who are as carnivorous and brutal as the IRS. Well, hmmm—they're nocturnal so as long as we've got three suns in the sky—wait, don't tell me—they're all going to eclipse this afternoon, aren't they?

We are living in a world populated by Alien knockoffs, you know it—you've seen bunches of them, I'll bet. Well the good news is that this is a knockoff with style. It's an interesting premise, with whacked out creatures and an anti-protagonist in Riddick that is just badass. That's right, Diesel plays the part beautifully—always unpredictable, always one step ahead, and always pretty much lethal. The only reason you're breathing in his presence is because he's decided it doesn't bug him—yet. The look of the film is pretty clever, too—and I'm not just talking about the killer triple sunset you caught a glimpse of in the trailer. You go from completely bleached out lighting effects in the daytime to...well, pitch black at night. It's smart and engaging.

However. Where the film is not so smart is in this little bit: if you were presented with the situation I handed you in the first paragraph, you would probably want to get off-planet pretty damn quick, wouldn't you? Granted, there's a reason they don't immediately leap up and rocket into space once more—but it wasn't good enough for me. "Total eclipse? Whoops, gots to go!" And that's another thing—what's up with those creatures? I won't say too much to spoil anything, but I was disappointed that we never really understood the relationship between the different kinds—are those baby creatures? What the hell have they been eating for 22 years? I almost wish a member of the crew had been some kind of biologist or something to provide us with some theories to keep me from busying my mind with them. Otherwise, the only thing I will mention is I thought the ending was a bit too hurried and, well, unbelievable—though I felt it should have been otherwise.

Still, with all of the things which bugged me—what carries the film is Diesel, some pretty whacked out effects, and a decent story. If you're dying for sci-fi, go see it, otherwise wait and watch it at home.

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