Sunday, June 23, 2013

MR Pitch Black

It's getting Dark.
Are you afraid of the dark? You will be...

Movie: Pitch Black also known as The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black 
Directed by David Twohy
Release date 2000
Genre Science-fiction horror/thriller
Country USA

Pitch Black is a little science-fiction horror film that attained a surprising cult status after its original release back in 2000.

It comes from the mind of writer/director David Twohy behind the fantastic The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford and Waterworld. The man had been writing films for quite a while in Hollywood but has only directed a dozen or so films these recent years.

The film was co-written was co-written with Jim Wheat & Ken Wheat. In their first script the titular Riddick was originally supposed to be a woman named Taras Krieg.

While I do wonder what kind of film that would have made, the final product was quite a great surprise and without a doubt one of the best little gems the genre has produced in that entire decade.

The story takes place in a distant future and follows the passengers of the spaceship Hunter-Gratzner.

The pilots Greg Owens and Carolyn Fry are suddenly waken up from their cryo-stasis when some comet debris hit the ship killing another pilot in the process.

The spacecraft crashes on this desertic planet.

Only a few passengers are still alive including Muslim Abu 'Imam' al-Walid, a young boy (...) named Jack and this man who is passing himself for a cop named William J. Johns.

The ship was also carrying this dangerous criminal Richard B. Riddick that was being transported to a prison. In the middle of the crash, he cut loose from his restrains and escaped.

Johns urges the other survivors to help him find Riddick back.

The passengers discover they actually crash landed on a place like no other. The planet has three suns. And every 22 years there is a month long eclipse and they landed in the worst possible situation.

By a pretty long stretch of coincidences, the sun is coming down soon and there's some giant monstrous creatures living in caves, that hate light, that will come up at the same time...

It's a pretty simple and pretty straightforward plot. But the film didn't need to be any more complicated for its own good.

It's clearly inspired by Ridley Scott's Alien directly and with probably also a bit John Carpenter's The Thing in there.

The creatures aren't that important for the film in the end, just like the monster was for the original Alien.

The actual pitch black only really start at the two thirds of the film. Once the darkness arrives the threat changes... for the worse (for the characters).

It's mostly a character driven piece.

Our heroine Carolyn Fry actually supports the plot equally as much as Riddick. She's not strong enough at first to either lead the back or be their voice of reason. She's played by a great Radha Mitchell.

Our badass survivor Riddick/Vin Diesel has such an imposing screen presence! He finally joins the crew to up the chances to get off that rock.

The film revolves a lot around the duality of all its characters. Be it the ones hidden their true agenda like Johns or our criminal/anti-hero Riddick. Rhiana Griffith does also a pretty fantastic job as Jack(ie).

The rest of crew gets decimated one by one, turning to faiths that won't be saving nobody but the "sinner" at the end of the day. 

It's all really bad luck for the spaceship passengers.

It sure is a lot of coincidence to take in, it's like a worst possible scenario taking place for these space-faring people. The ship was just carrying this prisoner with the surgically enhanced eyes to see in the dark, with a crash timed right before and eclipse that unleashes all these monsters.

They start worrying about the crash and finding their way off that planet, trying to survive, get some water, then the monsters show up and finally they really need to find their way out of this planet. Or at least survive long enough.

It's a science-fiction take on your classic castaway story.

The characters are actually quite intelligent to know the mistakes to avoid if they wanna stay alive.  Although the end up forced to go through those situations and endanger themselves.

I really liked the simple "back to basics" approach of the design of these monsters. They have a pretty interesting bestial look since they evolved to survive total darkness - though you have to wonder that they would eat and survive on in a non-spaceship crash month.

The film became a cult hit and is without a doubt one of the best and most original films of the genre I've seen. It feels like one of those great little budget horror films from the 1980s.

It was even shot on a pretty simple low budget. But then again, these shortcomings always forces some creativity out of a film production.

The music was composed by Graeme Revell. It's just a gritty and intense as the picture.

Overall, it's a pretty darn excellent modern scifi/horror film.

I'd go even as far as saying it has nothing to shy away from the great cult classics of the late 70s/80s.

Don't let Vin Diesel fool - if you usual avoid his xXx-Fast Furious-ventures - it's an excellent intense creepy thriller film.

The film was later re-released under the updated title Chronicles of Riddick banner. It's actually a director's cut, making the film 2 minutes longer, cleaning up and tightening the presentation. With better cuts/edits.

Te overall mythologies was not really that important in Pitch Black and just slightly hinted without any real intentions. Such as the outside world, a mentioned New Mecca and also that space-wide shipping lane. But the characters don't question any of it, so does the audience.

It was followed by a big blockbuster-scale sequel, an anime, games and another episode is scheduled for later this year on theater.

The follow-up would later elaborate on the mythos and mostly try establishing a set of rules for its "original" universe. With some mixed success.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 UFOs!

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