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Overall Rating
3.56

Awesome: 19.89%
Worth A Look35.8%
Average: 28.98%
Pretty Bad: 10.8%
Total Crap: 4.55%

12 reviews, 104 user ratings


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Pitch Black
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Junky, very minor; almost fun."
3 stars

If you ever wondered what it might feel like to be inside a spaceship cracking apart during a violent crash landing, 'Pitch Black' gives you the experience bright and early.

The camera jiggles around spasmodically, the actors shout unintelligible gibberish at each other, the sound hammers us. Unfortunately, this describes too much of the rest of the movie, too, without a crash landing as an excuse. Pitch Black is yet another insecure hissy fit of a movie -- a thriller without enough confidence in itself or its characters to calm down for two seconds and let the actors speak to each other like human beings.

Movies like this copy the who-goes-there thrills of Alien and John Carpenter's The Thing without those films' grubby, everyday, human-scaled group dynamics. Here, the spaceship in question is carrying a motley crew mostly headed for someplace called "New Mecca"; in addition to the expected Muslims (led by Keith David, of The Thing), there's a geologist, an antiques collector, a morphine-addicted cop, a teenage boy who's not what he seems, and a serial killer. This all smacks of gimmickry -- these aren't people, they're conflict units. In Alien and The Thing, the people confined together were allowed personalities which could then flare up.

The only people in Pitch Black with anything resembling a personality are the serial killer, Riddick (Vin Diesel), and the ship's pilot, Fry (Radha Mitchell), whose soft features juxtapose nicely with her tough nature. Mostly, the people wander around on the parched, godforsaken rock they've landed on, squabbling over how to escape, while gradually being picked off by slithering monsters who thrive on darkness. Of course, this planet has three suns and thus no darkness, but wouldn't you just know a total eclipse happens to be approaching?

Pitch Black does have an imaginative look. Whenever the characters step outside into the alien air, cinematographer David Eggby (Mad Max) bleaches out everything, which makes sense: These are alien suns whose light is passing through an alien atmosphere, so of course things will look different. And I liked how Riddick, whose eyes have been doctored to allow him to see in the dark, emerges as the unlikely hero who alone can see the ravenous monsters. The Riddick's-eye view of the beasts is a neat touch of psychedelia.

Problem is, you may wish you could see through Riddick's eyes all the time. Pitch Black, like so many other horror movies in recent years, is too often so dimly lit that you can't tell what's going on. Yes, the latter half unfolds during an eclipse, but a film can be dark and still be visible (perfect example: Carpenter's Halloween). The expensive, computer-generated creatures lurk around in the dark, revealed to us only in teasing flashes -- perhaps for the best, considering that what we do see looks heavily indebted to H.R. Giger's Alien/Species designs. And the editing, as usual, is far too jangled; if you don't like a shot, wait two seconds and it'll change.

I always chuckle at these movies, because the characters are just food delivery; you wonder what the creatures would do for sustenance without the occasional crash landing. (Here, they cannibalize each other too.) How about an alien movie where human flesh turns out to be poisonous to aliens? Then the conflict would be about who in the group should sacrifice himself so that the aliens could eat him, get poisoned, and die. The movie would be short, but at least it'd be different.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1801&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/15/07 12:39:15
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Trilogy Starters: For more in the Trilogy Starters series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2016 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2016 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell i dont hate u scott ur right its derivative cool but derivative 4 stars
10/13/13 David H. didn't make sense to me 2 stars
2/01/13 jcar a very good scfi flick with good effects, acting, action, and diesdel kicking butt! 4 stars
1/29/12 hurdygurdy man Plot on thin ice, c'mon frosbitten and didn't cover gloveless hand?? Left me cold. 2 stars
7/24/10 bagwell5 A rip off of Alien, but still well done. Cole Hauser gives a great performance, 5 stars
6/09/10 Harvey Scott Great introduction to the Riddick character. LIked it! 4 stars
8/30/09 CTT Nicely realized sci-fi 4 stars
2/17/09 Samuel NIce aliens(called biorapters) awesome movie 5 stars
1/11/09 PAUL SHORTT NEITHER SCARY NOR EXCITING 1 stars
8/30/08 Shaun Wallner This one was kinda boring. 2 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White Diesel's best movie so far 5 stars
10/13/07 Carlos Vin Diesals best movie hands down... 5 stars
8/11/07 TheRealNapster I loved this Film. It made it into my collection 5 stars
8/08/07 TigerSlap Erik Childress is so full of shit! This movie is great entertainment! 5 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega Fun action thriller, but they could do a bit better than expected. 3 stars
1/18/07 David Pollastrini great action, great gore 5 stars
6/08/06 William Goss Shameless sci-fi rehash that is loads more fun than it has any right to be. 4 stars
3/10/06 Dk A poor mans Alien it never really gets going 2 stars
3/05/06 chris f brilliant film way better that the trashy sequel 5 stars
1/02/06 cody a alien ripoff but a cool scfi action flick with cool characters, but ending stunk 3 stars
12/08/05 JM Synth Mr Diesel's only genuinely good film 4 stars
8/12/05 ES Better than its piece of garbage sequel 4 stars
5/27/05 Jake Great, sci-fi fun 5 stars
12/31/04 Max Without Vin this movie would of bombed! 5 stars
11/14/04 Rachel I love this movie. Great script (for the most part) intensely funny moments, good acting 5 stars
9/04/04 alisha vanmaanen wierd but i was still held captive to the end 3 stars
8/17/04 Herolder Yeah, it's an Alien rip-off, but a good one 5 stars
7/26/04 Vince Totally agree wth Star-Crosser : great cinematography + Vin Diesel. Excellent. 5 stars
6/10/04 Ali Hbous A fine piece of Sci-Fi 4 stars
3/01/04 Star-Crosser The cinematography and Deisel's suprising charisma make it worthwhile. 5 stars
12/09/03 John Bale Like an old Saturday Arvo Serial but the imaginative photography makes it watchable. 3 stars
11/12/03 Twenty-Two YUMMMmmmmmm........ Vin Diesel! 5 stars
11/02/03 American Slasher Goddess Extremely dull clone of Aliens. 1 stars
10/03/03 Timmy Best movie since "Aliens" 5 stars
7/08/03 Shawn Great Movie! Watch it a couple of times and it gets even better. 4 stars
5/28/03 Alana This film is awesome - Vin Diesel's best performance to date& excellent cinematography. 5 stars
5/27/03 mr. Pink An Alien rip-off, which isn't even a good one at that. Really dull! 1 stars
3/24/03 Sugarfoot I need no more proof, when I say that Scott Weinberg is a dumbass. 4 stars
12/31/02 Bob Hardcore Boring commercial crap. 1 stars
11/24/02 Sweetgrrl1972 It's super fun fantastic! Who goes to a movie like this to think anyway? 5 stars
9/23/02 Eloise i enjoyed the blood'n guts, the birdy monsters and Vin, yummeee 5 stars
7/05/02 KMG The little girl looked like Leaf Phoenix when he was in "Space Camp" 3 stars
6/11/02 Zefram Mann What would have been a throwaway flick is made great by the dynamic Diesel's character adds 5 stars
3/03/02 Butterbean Great Movie!!! I'm looking forward to the sequel! 5 stars
2/19/02 Katie Sheppard I loved it!!!! Vin Diesel is sooooooooooo sexy and he plays and awesome killer!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/14/02 Chris Bradford Im a big fan of Vin Diesel 5 stars
1/29/02 Gracy Lionheart Predictable, but fun to watch if you're in the right mood. Better than The Patriot any day. 4 stars
1/27/02 Andrew Carden Pretty Good For A Movie That Was In Theaters For Only 1 Month. 4 stars
12/11/01 Jim Reasonably suspenseful, cool cinematography, nasty aliens, and Radha Mitchell in a tank top 4 stars
10/31/01 Sumixam Not too bad, the creatures aren't overly exciting but a promising flick nevertheless 4 stars
10/04/01 Mark Conway Can i just say this is one of the crapest movies i have ever seen in my life. 1 stars
10/01/01 Shane Robert Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good! but the ending was unexpected?????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3 stars
8/14/01 Kitty It's an original movie plus Vin Diesel is in it! 4 stars
8/03/01 KC Au Pretty forgettable flick. Not scary. 3 stars
7/31/01 Robert best sci fi movie ever 5 stars
7/08/01 officer 412/l nice looking sci-fi on a low budget 3 stars
6/21/01 Beth The movie kicks ass Vin Deisel is a major hottie in it 5 stars
6/19/01 jessica ohh Vin, baby 4 stars
6/15/01 M Hatfield Wow! Wot a bod! 5 stars
6/14/01 Elaine Lewis Fucking Awesome 5 stars
6/11/01 ReeRee757 Mmmm...... Vin Diesel. Ay papi. Oh yeah, loved the movie too. 5 stars
5/29/01 Desire' Vin , baby you are sooooo fine!!! 4 stars
4/23/01 TigerDream Cool effects and all but still a crappy story to go with it and very dull 2 stars
2/06/01 Trashstar I liked the colour scheme of the movie, liked the charecters, almost awesome,bad ending. 4 stars
1/07/01 Toni That movie kicked so much ass I loved it! Vin ,baby you are hott! 5 stars
12/08/00 jetcat punchy, tidy script with cool filming style 4 stars
11/20/00 Matthew Bartley Thoroughly enjoyable 4 stars
11/14/00 The EVIL Penguin Made Deisel a rising star. 4 stars
11/14/00 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Pointless, derivative, and DULL!! I can't believe people actually dug this. 1 stars
11/13/00 Neil Not a bad movie with good effects and very origional 4 stars
10/18/00 terry c compared to anaconda this one shines 4 stars
6/08/00 Jaime N. Christley Underrated sci-fi actioner; fast, well-made, and SHORT 4 stars
6/01/00 Keiros Shoulda spent an extra coulple of million to make Alien5 2 stars
5/21/00 mellemel BORING! Why did I waste my money! 1 stars
5/19/00 MR joel harwood VERY DRY 4 stars
5/10/00 The worst killer alien movie I think I have ever seen. 1 stars
4/18/00 Brien kidna sucked 3 stars
4/12/00 Dr. Rev. Krule, MD Decent movie, well worth seeing Diesel, good special effects 4 stars
3/24/00 malcolm had some nice shots. too coincidental. Diesel eats up the screen. 3 stars
3/22/00 Adam Fun, that's it. 4 stars
3/21/00 bonedaddy what was with the glow worms 4 stars
3/21/00 El Tigre Turn off you brain and enjoy the ride. Vin is awesome. 4 stars
3/11/00 brentley Very entertaining, but script & FX could have been better. 4 stars
3/10/00 Kyle Broflovski I liked this movie better than it liked me. 4 stars
3/07/00 yankee this movie was tiring. Special effects was all there was. No plot what so ever 2 stars
3/03/00 Michael Thompson Decent fun Sci-Fi Fare 4 stars
3/01/00 PhilmPhreak Any sci fi is better than no sci fi 3 stars
3/01/00 DarkNyt Not as good as I expected, but much better than what it could have been. 4 stars
2/29/00 Captain Highcrime I've seen better; but on the up side, it could have been ALOT worse (Supernova, anyone?) 3 stars
2/26/00 Alyssa What Alien 3 SHOULD have been. Vin Diesel is incredible. 5 stars
2/26/00 Drano Cool as Fuck!! Vin Diesel kicks ass! 4 stars
2/25/00 Crispin Fully disagree with illiterate Erik. This is a well made and paced movie. 5 stars
2/25/00 Cheaps Never, ever complain about Star Wars again ! 3 stars
2/24/00 notspork are you crazy??? vin diesel is a fucking SUPERHUMAN. every female should see this movie. 5 stars
2/24/00 Wyatt Earp Way better than I expected 4 stars
2/23/00 Overflow Bitch Not bad. Expected more. 3 stars
2/23/00 Zensmile A pretty good movie. I thought the creatures were a bit hokey...but great scifi graphics. 4 stars
2/23/00 Kman Either an underfunded A film, or a well done B movie. Well worth seeing if you liked Aliens 4 stars
2/22/00 Louis Pretty good if you're bored on a saturday afternoon. 4 stars
2/22/00 Obi Wan Fucking Phat!!! Vin Diesel ROCKED in this flick. Loved it . ..expected nothing got plenty 5 stars
2/21/00 Judy Alan KICK ASS ACTION AND PRETTY DAMN SCARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/21/00 majawat could have been much worse 4 stars
2/21/00 Jerck Mehoff awsome 5 stars
2/21/00 Jason Kallelis Nothing special. Aliens with a few new twists. See it matinee if you want a cheap thrill 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  18-Feb-2000 (R)
  DVD: 01-Jun-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  18-May-2000


Directed by
  David N. Twohy

Written by
  David N. Twohy
  Jim Wheat
  Ken Wheat

Cast
  Vin Diesel
  Cole Hauser
  Radha Mitchell
  Ric Anderson
  David Keith



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