Pitch Black

Reviewed By Scott Weinberg
Posted 02/22/00 08:53:12

"How many times can we see the SAME damn movie?"
3 stars (Average)

Webster's defines plagiarize as "To appropriate as one's own the writings, ideas, etc. of another." Now, nobody loves good horror/sci-fi as much as I. (Hey, I went to see Supernova!) I had heard some early and quite positive things about Pitch Black, and was pretty excited to see it. I dragged my friends who wanted to see Boiler Room; they're still mad at me.

Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien Resurrection, Horror Planet, Galaxy of Terror, Supernova, Forbidden World, Nightflyers, Event Horizon, Starship Troopers, Virus, The Thing, Deep Rising, Creature (aka Titan Find), Deepstar Six, Leviathan, Hardware, Lifefoce, Moontrap, Screamers, Species, Spaceship, Species 2, Split Second, I Come in Peace, Deep Blue Sea, Anaconda, Lake Placid, Xtro, Tremors, etc.

These are movies in which either A) a group of people get eaten in outer space or B) a group of people isolate themselves and THEN get eaten. Me, I'm all for it. But please just try to add SOMETHING new. Just a little something, like make one of the charatcers a robot.....wait.....never mind.

My point is that this whole sub-genre is usually junk. But every time they roll out another one, I go see it. I was damn psyched to see Pitch Black. What I saw was a thinly-veiled collection of absolutely shockingly familiar scenes. To those who haven't seen the above titles, perhaps Pitch Black will come off as an "awesome and fun thrill ride". Me? I yawned a lot.

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Spaceship crashes on planet, crew gets eaten, credits roll. Now I realize I'm probably going to get some backlash for ripping this movie, but when it comes to the whole horror/sci-fi thing, I know my stuff as well as anyone. Trust me when I tell you that Pitch Black offers almost nothing new.

The good points are there: Some of the acting (Radha Mitchell, Vin Diesel, Cole Hauser) is pretty good, and the movie is directed by someone who has an obvious flair for visuals. (The crash-landing is pretty cool, and the three-sun eclipse looks neat, but I can see cool graphics on my computer.)

It's just that the oppressively familiar script is constantly there to remind you that you've seen literally ALL of this before, only done much better. The aliens look almost identical to those in (ahem) Aliens, the characters are uniformly drab, and not a whole lot really happens in this movie.

It turns out that this planet has some pretty convenient (and inconvenient) features: The air is breathable, which is good, and it's always daytime, thanks to the three suns in orbit. (Damn, Tatooine only had TWO suns. Take THAT, Lucas.) Through coincidences that occur only in horror movies, our crew unfortunately crash-lands only one day before a total solar eclipse. The fact that these eclipses occur only every 22 years really raises the "Yeah, right" quotient. Also, these creepy monsters are terrified of light. (Gee, how'd they get there, then? What a terrible planet for a race of photophobes to live on!)

Anyway, the eclipse kicks in, and the buffet is on. Fortunately for the crew (but not really for the crediblity factor), one of them has had surgery that allows him to SEE in the DARK. (Wow, that's even MORE lucky, huh?) But this guy is a mean and brutal prisoner. Will he use his night-vision to help the crew escape? Will anyone survive? Are ALL the coolest scenes in the commercials and the previews? Well, if you don't know the answers to these questions, buy a VCR.

To my fellow sci-fi fans, don't hate me. I still love all the crap, and I always have high hopes for the next one. It's just that you can only see the same exact movie so many times before you start to hope for a little more. The laziness of the script destroys nearly any of the "fun" movies like this usually offer, and most of it is just plain silly.

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