Owing a major debt to Alien and its cinematic spawn, Pitch Black is a guilty pleasure that surpasses expectations. As he did with The Arrival, director David Twohy revitalizes a derivative story, allowing you to forgive its flaws and submit to its visceral thrills. Under casual scrutiny, the plot's logic crumbles like a stale cookie, but it's definitely fun while it lasts.
A spaceship crashes on a desert planet scorched under three suns. The mostly doomed survivors include a resourceful captain (Radha Mitchell), a drug-addled cop (Cole Hauser), and a deadly prisoner (Vin Diesel) who quickly escapes. These clashing personalities discover that the planet is plunging into the darkness of an extended eclipse, and it's populated by hordes of ravenous, razor-fanged beasties that only come out at night. The body count rises, and Pitch Black settles into familiar sci-fi territory.
What sets the movie apart is Twohy's developing visual style, suggesting that this veteran of B-movie schlock may advance to the big leagues. Like the makers of The Blair Witch Project, Twohy understands the frightening power of suggestion; his hungry monsters are better heard than seen (although once seen, they're chillingly effective), and Pitch Black gets full value from moments of genuine panic. Best of all, Twohy's got a well-matched cast, with Mitchell (so memorable with Ally Sheedy in High Art) and Diesel (Pvt. Caparzo from Saving Private Ryan) being the standouts. The latter makes the most of his muscle-man role, and his character's development is one more reason this movie works better than it should. --Jeff Shannon
Also Known As: Pitch Black 2 (USA) (working title) Pitch Black 2: Chronicles of Riddick (USA) (working title) Riddick (USA) (working title) The Chronicles of Riddick: The Director's Cut (USA) (director's cut) (more)
Filming Locations: Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada (more)
Trivia: Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick replaced another designer who had worked on the film for eight months with only 10 weeks before shooting. (more)
Goofs: Crew or equipment visible: When the Holy Man is cornered by the necromonger before attacking each other, the reflection of the lights on the set can be seen in his glasses. (more)
Quotes: [first lines] Aereon: They are an army unlike any other... crusading across the stars toward a place called UnderVerse, their promised land - a constellation of dark new worlds. Necromongers, they're called. And if they cannot convert you, they will kill you. Leading them, the Lord Marshal. He alone has made a pilgrimage to the gates of the UnderVerse... (more)