Rated R for sci-fi violence and gore, and for language.
Directed By: David Twohy
Written By: Jim Wheat and Ken Wheat
Staring: Vin Diesal, Cole Hauser, Radha Mitchell, Keith David, Rhiana Griffith, and Claudia Black
They say most of your brain shuts down during cryo-sleep. All but the primitive side, the animal side. No wonder I’m still awake. -Riddick
By a wicked twist of fate, somewhere in the distant future a group of space travelers are peacefully sleeping in stasis when a small asteroid field begins penetrating the hull and the ship crashes on a baren planet they know nothing about. The few survivors see the planet as unforgiving in it’s terrain and heat. There is no relief as night never seems to come because of it’s three suns that scorch the dead planet. Pilot Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell) assumes leadership as the ships Captain is deceased from the crash. The ship is beyond repair and she is quick to learn that is only one of her worries. Bounty Hunter William J. Johns (Cole Hauser) has a prisoner aboard called “Riddick” (Vin Diesal) that is a mass murderer and criminal. Riddick is no longer officially captive and walks freely among the survivors, making everyone uneasy. What they don’t know is the planet is headed for an eclipse that allows some darkness dwelling creatures to come out and feed upon anything living. In the darkness, the few survivors suddenly rely on Riddick, who had surgically engineered eyes that enables him to see in the dark, and hope he will bring them to find a way to escape the planet that holds them hostage.
In it’s essence Pitch Black is about survival, the lengths people go to, and who they will rely on when the tides turn for the worse. What’s very interesting about Pitch Black is the richly drawn characters. What is most compelling is when their pasts, their secrets are all revealed none seem to be creatures of innocence. They all hide behind facades created, except for Riddick, the one who has the most to hide and essentially turns into their hero. The flip-flop of this situation is represented in the turn of the tide in the movie. When light turns to dark, everything and everyone’s role changes.
Somehow, though the vicious and menacing killer, Vin Diesal makes Riddick the most charismatic and likable character of the bunch, or certainly the one you are drawn to most. He upstaged the rest of the cast, and though you wanted them all to survive, the only one you really cared to see go on, was Riddick. In this movie you realize Vin Diesal has what it takes to possibly be your next Sly Stallone or even Arnold.
For being a film fairly low-budget on the science fiction genre scale, the director utilized what he had brilliantly. The creatures themselves are almost never revealed, which keeps the illusion of their mysteriousness about them, and also doesn’t expose bad CGI. Because of this there was not one time that it became obvious that they were CGI creations. Even in the close encounter scene where Riddick goes head to head with one.
The depth beyond the tale, mixed with mystery and the unknown, tagged together with fabulously curious characters makes Ptich Black a new and interesting addition to the science fiction family, and hopefully will be around to inspire other films in the genre to think outside the box.