affraid of the dark are you?"
When a transport
carrier crashes onto a barren planet, the survivors think they only have
the elements to contend with. Along with the ordinary passengers, an extremely
dangerous fugitive called Riddick (Diesel) was being transported back to
prison by Officer Johns (Hauser). The group, reluctantly led by the only
surviving officer Carolyn Fry (Mitchell), discover an old abandoned research
station, which reveals that the planet is to go into darkness for the first
time in 22 years. As the planet becomes shrouded in darkness the group has
to contend with the Riddick escape and the awakening, hungry planetary inhabitants.
Once in a while
a Sci-Fi movie comes along that takes all what is good in the genre and
adds its own unique twist. Pitch Black is one of those movies.
By making the villain
the hero, you turn the rules of storytelling on its head and produce a real
tension for the other characters in the story and for you the viewer. With
Riddick you have a protagonist who you simply can't trust, thus meaning
you never know what he is going to do next. He could just as easily slit
your throat as save your life because the situation warrants it. The success
of the character is this fact however, as you just can't help but be enthralled
by him. Riddick would be nothing without the stella performance by Vin Diesel.
This is the movie that gave him his leading man status and is arguably his
best role. His performance instils a real sense of menace into the character,
as his deep voice and dominating physique combine to create a look that
produces one of the best antiheroes to hit the big screen. You just can't
help but be drawn to the character as there is something intriguingly interesting
about evil and with Riddick you just never know what he is going to do next
and if he could ever be trusted.
As well as Riddick,
Pitch Black succeeds in creating more watchable characters that you really
do start to care about. Radha Mitchell plays the reluctant leader of the
group Carolyn Fry, a docking-pilot thrown into the captain's role after
the rest of the crew are killed. This is breakthrough role for the Australian
actress who shows a real gift for drama as her character rises to the occasion
even though she is harbouring a terrible secret. Cole Hauser is a talented
actor whose potential has not yet been realised. As officer William J. Johns,
Hauser creates a foil for Riddick and a slight element of mistrust within
the group of survivors. This is to Hauser credit, as it becomes apparent
that Johns is just as complicated a character as Riddick. When you add in
good supporting performances from the always-excellent Keith David as holy
man Iman and a good Hollywood debut from young Australian actor Rhiana Griffith
as Jack, you have an excellent ensemble cast.
The cast would be
nothing with a tension filled story and this sci-fi horror at its best.
A variant on the Alien mythos, the plot sees the survivor's not just face
the peril of the escaped murder amongst them but they have to contend with
the planet's only surviving inhabitants and they are very hungry. As the
planet plunges into darkness, the air is filled with the terrifying cries
of these almost demonic creatures, as they awaken from their twenty-two
year slumber. For a lower budget movie, the special effects and creature
designs are up there with some of the best in resent years. This is helped
by the darkness of the piece but there is no denying that the scene in which
one of the survivor finds themselves alone in the dark is one of the scariest
sci-fi horror scenes in a very long time.
Pitch Black is good
old-fashioned scary Sci-Fi horror. It keeps you on the edge of your seat
from the exhilarating opening to its dark and eerie conclusion. Vin Diesel's
performance creates an anti-hero for the new millennium and the rest of
the cast draw you into their situation superbly. Watch it only if you are
not afraid of the dark.
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen
2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, the picture and sound quality
are extremely good. The picture is extremely sharp throughout with no
pixelation in the slightest, even during the more energetic night sequences.
The sound is also first rate with clear dialogue and a surround track
that comes into its own when the creatures appear.
Feature commentary with
Vin Diesel, Cole Hauser and director David Twohy
This chatty and funny commentary takes you behind the scenes of the acting
elements of Pitch Black. Vin Diesel and Cole Hauser discuss their characters
and how they changed from the original script and the inevitable final
confrontation. Director David Twohy talks about the structure of the movie
and the scenes he deleted or couldn't afford to do to create his final
print. All three of them reminisce about the arduous Australian Outback
Feature commentary with
director David Twohy, producer Tom Engelman and visual effects supervisor
This track covers the technical side bringing Pitch Black to the silver
screen. Both informative and chatty, the three discuss the various special
effects house that were used to create spaceships, planet backdrops, sets
and the creatures. They also talk about the different shooting style used
to give the film its distinctive look including the different colours
to represent the suns and the use of focusing to show the illusiveness
of Riddick after his escape.
The Chronicles of Riddick
Preview (9.22 mins)
Watch the first nine minutes of the big budget sequel to Pitch Black,
The Chronicles of Riddick.
An Introduction by David
Twohy (2.26 mins)
The director introduces Pitch Black and reveals how the film influenced
the making of the sequel. He also talks about how The Chronicles of Riddick
will be completely different to the first film but the core message is
still the same. These films are about Bad vs. Evil.
The Game is on (1.47 mins)
A trailer for the Vivendi computer game "The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape
from Butcher Bay"
The John's Chase Log (7.11
Star Cole Hauser narrates William J. Johns' 76 day pursuit log of Riddick
after his escape from Butcher Bay prison. A computer-generated map shows
Johns' pursuit of Riddick across the system.
The Making of Pitch Black
The original 2000 featurette with interviews with director David Twohy
and star Vin Diesel, Cole Hauser and Radha Mitchell. Taking you behind
the scenes of the Australian Outback shoot, you see how the film was put
together and how the terrifying creatures were designed and brought to
Dark Fury: Advancing the arc
A mini featurette previewing the animated sequel to Pitch Black that
bridges the gap between the end of that story and the beginning of The
Chronicles of Riddick.
The Chronicles of Riddick
Visual Encyclopaedia (2.18 mins)
Cole Hauser narrates visual information on Orrey, Mercs, Slams and The
Chronicles of Riddick.
A View into the Dark (4.07
Director David Twohy and Vin Diesel take you behind the scenes of The
Chronicles of Riddick and explain the connection between the sequel and
Previews of Thunderbirds, Van Helsing and The Chronicles of Riddick
This is more of a promotional
DVD for The Chronicles of Riddick than a special edition of Pitch Black.
Most of the bonus material has something to do with the big budget sequel
and only an extremely short making of featurette and Johns' Chase Log
have anything to do with original movie. The commentary tracks are very
good however but this doesn't make up for the shortcomings of the rest
of the bonus material. If you can find the original DVD release or are
lucky enough to already own it don't buy this DVD, but if you are not
that luck this Special Edition is too bad if you just want to watch the
movie, listen to the entertaining commentaries and find out about the
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