Friday, July 5, 2019

Movie Review: Pitch Black (2000)

Pitch Black (2000) co-written and directed by David Twohy

A low-budget cargo ship with forty passengers on board crash lands on a remote and presumably uncharted planet. The captain is dead and the pilot barely manages to land the ship, having to jettison a lot of the cargo. She even attempts to dump the passengers (who are in suspended animation) but a fellow crew member stops her. Once on the planet, only a handful of people survive, including escaped convict Riddick (Vin Diesel). Riddick escapes and the survivors worry both about getting off the planet and avoiding being killed by the convict. Their problems only get worse when they discover a previous shipwreck where the survivors all died twenty-two years ago. The planet has perpetual daylight thanks to its three suns, but every twenty-two years the planets align just right and total darkness covers the land. That's when the indigenous, underground dwelling life forms come out and attack whatever is alive on the surface.

The movie is an effective combination of science fiction and survival horror. People get picked off one by one, though some are surprising and enough is invested in the characters that a viewer will care about the loss. Diesel gives a good performance as the anti-hero. Riddick only seems good in comparison to the bloodthirsty native life forms. He does have a character arc that Diesel handles well. The special effects are low budget and occasionally look twenty years old. On the other hand, the film is visually stylish, making the most of what it can do. Occasionally one sun is more dominant than the others, so scenes are saturated in yellow or blue depending on which star is above the horizon. I saw this when it originally came out and it holds up pretty well nineteen years later.


p.s. I did not watch this unrated version, though I am sort of curious.

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