Review: Jack Foley
SPECIAL EDITION DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 9 minute opening sequence
of The Chronicles of Riddick; Introduction by David Twohy. The
Chronicles of Riddick Visual Encyclopedia; Johns’ Chase
Log. Dark Fury: Advancing The Arc; The Game Is On; Feature commentary
with director and actors Vin Diesel & Cole Hauser; Feature
commentary with director, producer and visual effects supervisor;
A View Into The Dark. Regions 2/4.
THE premise may sound familiar - the crew of a spaceship crash
lands on a planet and discovers that they are not alone - but
seldom has it been done as effectively as Pitch Black, a new sci-fi
thriller from director David Twohy.
Whereas most Alien wannabes have paled
by comparison to Ridley Scott's genre defining masterpiece, Pitch
Black manages to be both wildly exciting and endlessly inventive
while at the same time sticking to the same sort of formula associated
with this kind of spacemen-in-peril formula. Not convinced?
Then check out the inspired direction, which lends the film a
very distinct look; its pitch black humour and its refusal to
conform to the familiar. Few characters can be called likeable,
yet they exude a certain charisma reserved for all the best type
And it is this inability to pick a real hero which adds to the
excitement - rendering it virtually impossible to work out who
will make it to the final reel.
Among the principle players are Vin Diesel's cold, calculated
murderer Riddick; Cole Hauser's dubious lawman Johns; and Radha
Mitchell's docking pilot Fry, who would rather ditch her crew
than risk her own life when faced with the prospect of a painful
The remainder of the crew comprise a mixed assortment of religious
nuts, scheming entrepreneurs and children, all keen to prove themselves
against a mounting and unseen adversary.
The adversary in question only come out in the dark and pose
little risk at first, given that the uncomfortably hot planet
is surrounded by no less than three suns.
But as fate would have it, the crew find themselves faced with
an eclipse and must repair their damaged craft before the suns
set and plunge them into a nightmare scenario few can hope to
walk away from.
And when the creatures emerge (and, of course, they do) the stage
is set for a suitably sweaty dash for safety, the type of which
makes those hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and your
heart start beating uncontrollably.
And here's where Twohy's movie really comes into its own - for
having given us an uncomfortably bright opening section (the movie's
use of colour is quite amazing), the darkness which follows is
all the more terrifying; particularly as we are never quite sure
what lies within.
Like the best kinds of horror, Pitch Black succeeds by never
showing too much too soon, and offers only glimpses of its aliens
as they tear the poor humans to shreds. And it seldom pulls its
punches, throwing in surprises right up until the ending.
If the script at times fails to maintain the rest of the movie's
high standards, the actors more than compensate, turning in career-defining
performances which should send their stars into orbit, and which
help to make this a must-see minor classic which is undoubtedly
one of the year's best kept secrets.