As often happens with me, I find that movies I loved as a younger man haven’t necessarily aged well. Add Pitch Black to the list.
The elements that made it great to me in my youth are still there, its just that its weaker parts stand out like a sore thumb.
A passenger ship carrying various people is hit by space debris while its inhabitants are in cryo sleep. The pilots are woken up by the computer and attempt to land on a hostile looking planet. As the ship struggles to land the docking pilot Fry tries to dump the passengers, which would make it easier to land. She’s stopped by the pilot, but he dies during the landing. I always found the fact that Fry is so willing to sacrifice the passengers so easily interesting. It adds another level to a character that is otherwise quite bland. Upon landing on the planet the surviving crew and passengers find out that a dangerous passenger named Riddick was being transported with Johns, who they all presume is a cop. Riddick played by Vin Diesel escapes but is eventually caught. However, after discovering that the local wildlife are a much bigger threat than Riddick they work out an uneasy truce, in the hope of escaping the planet.
One of the things director David Twhohy gets perfect is making characters change they way they behave in ways that you don’t see coming. The cop is actually a bounty hunter and is willing to sacrifice everyone to get of the ship and pick up his bounty. Fry the pilot redeems herself during the film even after being tempted to the dark side by Riddick. Speaking of Riddick, Diesel is probably the best thing in the movie. He’s charismatic without even having to say much and is just as cool. I mean the man has surgically modified eyes so he can see in the dark. He clearly would leave them all to die and actually does at one point, but there also a sense of honour underneath all that bravado. Its lucky his character is so interesting as most of the others are incredibly dull.
Yeah. As you can tell we’re getting to the part of the movie thats not so great.
As well as being dull characters, they are apparently worthless as well. Keith David’s character Imam loses all three kids to the monsters but no one barely bats an eyelid. Also the director is clearly trying to hide the budget limitations during the early attacks, as its all close ups and distorted camera effects. Its very distracting and actually just comes off as bad film making.
Its a real shame as I remember really liking this film when I saw it, but its far too flawed to even be considered as good film now. Shame.