Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pitch Black (2000)

Seen: On blu-ray on our big screen/projector set-up.

Oh, you know me, always looking for science-fiction that I've missed. Pitch Black throws together a motley crew of space travelers who crash-land on a seemingly deserted and definitely sandy planet. Young pilot Carolyn (Radha Mitchell) takes over as captain when her superior dies in the crash, and she does her best to find a way off the planet while keeping her passengers safe from the deadly creatures they discover. One of her transports is an infamous criminal named Riddick (Vin Diesel), whose special set of skills may be their best line of defense despite his questionable loyalties.

Supposedly made in 2000 but feeling in most ways like it comes from at least five years earlier, Pitch Black is a dark survival thriller that manages to hit enough of the right notes for me to really enjoy it, even if I am well aware of its shortcomings. The cast is strong, and the premise is a solid- if not especially inventive- one. Of course, the anti-hero formula fits well here, with Diesel really suited to the role of the confident, enigmatic Riddick. He's a vicious murderer with eerie glowing eyes that see in the dark, but you can't help but get the feeling that he's an ok dude. I liked Radha Mitchell a lot as Carolyn, since she is the main other competent person in the group (aside from Claudia Black's cool Australian lady, Shazza). The main problem is that she looks like a 12 year old, so I was sort of taken aback when she assumed leadership. But for the most part she is strong and resilient, which as a woman of course means she is *SPOILER ALERT* killed off. Many movies are jerks in this way.

Shot primarily with a white-blue filter to suggest the multiple suns and weird stretches of semi-twilight, the film at first manages to not completely visually date itself as the CG alien creatures aren't shown in full for quite a while. Unfortunately once the big conflict at the end emerges there is no stopping the mediocre effects from coming out, which detracts from the overall intense horror-thriller vibe they had going. That being said, it's still a pretty damn exciting final sequence.

ALSO this is a *SPOILER* but can I just ask whether it was a surprise to anyone that Jack was really a girl? Like, the moment he was introduced I said, is that guy being played by a woman? And then it's some kind of big reveal at the end and periods are involved. I mean you know I love it when women dress in drag, I seriously do, but I felt strange for pointing it out early on and then questioning whether I was right or not (not that it actually matters) while I waited for the other characters to catch up.

Anyway. I liked Pitch Black, but acknowledge that it's pretty dated and often slips into cheesiness in not the best way. I totally want cool shiny eyes like Riddick, though.


Pair This Movie With: When the movie started I was pretty convinced we were secretly watching Stargate, and I know they'd make a killer double feature of half cheesy/half legitimately awesome sci-fi set on desert planets.

1 comment:

  1. This was a very solid B movie Sci-Fi film. As you stated it has some flaws but the tension they manage to build up in the film is pretty amazing.
    Have you ever seen the sequel? I heard that a 3rd film is currently in production.

    nice post