Director: David N. Twohy
Writer: Ken Wheat, Jim Wheat, David Twohy
Here’s the kind of film that usually comes and goes unnoticed, barely a bleep on everybody’s radar. You know, it’s mid-February, people are awaiting the Oscars, summer is still far off… And the studios release a bunch of flicks they greenlighted but are not that confident about, hoping that they’ll spark somehow in such a dead season. Most often, rather small, non-star driven sci-fi movies like “Pitch Black” are little seen, released quickly on video and then disappear. I mean, does anyone remember “Deep Rising”? “Soldier”? “Supernova”? Exactly. Yet, against all odds, “Pitch Black” hit me in the right places and I believe that those who are lucky enough to give it a chance won’t forget it either for at least one reason… VIN DIESEL.
Right now, early 2000, Vin Diesel doesn’t mean much as far as box-office goes, but I’m pretty confident that, within a few years, the man will rule the screens. He’s nothing less than Schwarzenneger’s long-awaited heir. Oh man, the guttural voice (which he lent to “The Iron Giant” last year- yes, he voiced everybody’s favorite giant metal dude), the hard, muscular body, the tough face, the attitude… Whenever Diesel’s on-screen, you can’t help but grin and wait eagerly for him to kick some ass. You might remember him from “Saving Private Ryan”, but with Pitch Black he really gets to shine, even though -or maybe because- he’s the villain.
The film starts out classic, as a spaceship flies through space. But then something happens, asteroids hit the ship and crash lands on the planet nearby. Some forty passengers were travelling on it in cryogenic sleep, but most of them died, including the captain. And so the second in command has to take charge. She’s Fry (Radah Mitchell, very compelling), a complicated, confused but skilled young woman who will do everything to try and leave this hellhole. Because the planet they fell on is really not paradise, but more of a deserted ball of rock and sand, over which three suns shine. Fry’s job ain’t made any easier by the heterogeneity of her group, which consist of a difficult antics dealer, a Muslim man and his kids, a doped-out merc as well as a dangerous convict who goes by the name of Riddick. But as they’ll all soon discover, there’s an even deadlier threat upon them, in the form of bloodthirsty alien creatures who hit mercilessly in the dark. This mismatched platoon will have to find a way to work together if they want to stand a chance of not dying gruesomely…
“Pitch Black” is certainly not a masterpiece. It’s a B-movie, but it’s a real cool, exciting one, full of cheesy but entertaining dialogue, ridiculously macho confrontations, as well as quite a lot of gore. It’s in the lines of such other “survival” flicks as Aliens or Predator, to give you an idea. Not particularly deep or transcending, but nonetheless mighty enjoyable, and well made too. This is the second film of David Twohy, who previously directed “The Arrival”. Once again, Twohy does a great job behind the camera, crafting every scene with skill and style. His film is visually striking, with an interesting use of bleached photography to convey the overwhelming brightness of the desert (sorta kinda like in “Three Kings”). The editing is sharp, the score’s effective and the FX are neat, especially the creatures. And last but not least is Vin Diesel’s Riddick, a wonderful creation. He’s so badass! He does plenty of cool shit in the film which defy logic, but that’s what’s cool about it. So check out “Pitch Black”, and you’ll have a blast!