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By Ted Baldwin

Pitch Black
Reviewed:2/18/2000

Not bad for semi-ambitious sci-fi.
FIVE POSSIBLE (for what it is)
     Pitch Black is a HuMan-Against-Alien-Nature flick, long on atmosphere but fairly straightforward. Computer effects are used well, and the eclipse, an event in our lives that seems to bring out the beasts and drive dogs wild, is showcased appropriately. Not enough real sentiment among the characters to derive anything momentous - just well done sci-fi action.

     Along the lines of DEEP BLUE SEA, and ANACONDA, but simpler, drier, PB was directed by David Twohy, author of WATERWORLD and G.I. JANE, among others. Visit Moviefan Online!

     Out there somewhere, in all of the vastness of the universe, a space freighter (following the popular ALIENS functionality-military-chic look) is knocked out of its flight path by a comet debris trail, and crashes into the nearest desert planet. It is part of a star system with three suns - a doublet rotating about a larger star, with planets in between, offering a very inhospitable environment.

     And of course that is where the story takes us, because it wouldn't be much of a story if it didn't, now would it?

Vin Diesel

     Numbered among the passengers - the prerequisite p.c. panoply of diversity - are one (or two) evil people. In fact, the lame-o tagline is "fight evil with evil". Lame-o because the creatures of the night are not evil. They are just hungry. And evil is such a relative term - I am not sure the human evil person is even so evil in the flick. He is more of a survivalist, more workmanlike in his deviltry than an evil person would seem to be...I mean, there is no "master plan" for evil, like The Spy Who Shagged Me's Dr. Evil.

     Vin Diesel, as Riddick, the "evil" one, is as buffed and cut as anything imaginable, with a voice like Lee Marvin - a formidable opponent to the things underground. Claudia Black, of FARSCAPE(on TV) does well until she stands up for herself, and the minor characters get picked off one by one, just as the miners did before them.

     But who cares? The sets are deserty, the bugs are buggy thanks to 3DCGI, and the paucity of imagination in the overall story is not that objectionable. It's a little bit FLIGHT OF THE PHEONIX, ALIEN, ALIENS, BATS (judging from previews), Various Westerns and VIRUS all mixed in, with credible performances for the level of film. Some cute SF ideas mixed in, solar powered everything, and an impossible star system. Well, not very likely, anyway...

     Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you, of the 300 million square miles of desert on this planet, they happen to land within walking distance of an abandoned settlement. Urgh. At least they should have had a homing beacon to guide them in, or something to justify it.

     Small matter. You won't go see this for the SF details, which are pretty good overall, you'll see it for the lighting effects as the third sun rises above the deathscape, the very beautiful and believable eclipse as the double ringed planet edges above, choking off all light, and especially that creepy feeling when you are certain there are things all around you but you can't quite see them - like the audience next to you...

 
Click a pic above and see the very imaginative backstory and interactive website for PITCH BLACK. Amusing, isn't it?

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