Pitch Black (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/12/2000

Two out of three stars
Running time: 108 mins

Derivative, plot-hole ridden sci-fi flick, redeemed only by the blazing star-in-the-making quality of Vin Diesel.

How disappointing: several hundred years into the future and conditions on economy class flights STILL haven’t improved. Pity the space-transport passengers here - rudely awakened from their stasis-sleep by a violent asteroid storm which forces the ship to crash-land on an alien planet with three suns. The captain is killed on impact, leaving Lieutenant Fry (Radha Mitchell) in charge of the remaining Poseidon Adventure-type passengers, including vicious serial killer Riddick (Vin Diesel) and the overzealous bounty hunter responsible for transport (Cole Hauser).

There also appear to be some nasty darkness-dwelling winged aliens lurking about, but the survivors ought to be safe on a three-sunned planet, right? Right? No prizes then, for guessing what happens when the suns go down. This is one of those films where you have to suspend a lot more than mere disbelief – in the opening sequence, the ‘windscreen’ of the spaceship smashes out during the crash and yet Fry emerges unscathed. And that’s before you even get the chance to ponder the evolutionary implausibility of a species that DIES in sunlight, evolving on a planet with three suns, not to mention the fact that the species also appears to feed off itself!

Still, if you can get past all this, there are a few things to enjoy. The photography, by David Eggby, is one example – the film has a distinct washed-out look, achieved by the copious use of different colour filters, and this adds considerably to the sense of an alien landscape. The performances are good too, and the lack of any star names means that you never quite know who’s expendable, or who the ‘good’ guys are, particularly in the case of Hauser and Diesel.

In fact, it’s Diesel who emerges best from all this, his ‘coolness’ enhanced by both the special effects for his ‘night-eyes’ and the shades he gets to wear in the daylight scenes. At any rate, he positively oozes star quality, and with luck, and some shrewd project-picking, Diesel will end up as an Arnie for the future, rather than just another straight-to-video Van Damme-alike. In general, then, this is at least watchable, which is more than can be said for Red Planet, the other big-budget sci-fi flick currently doing the rounds.

The aliens may be a little too reminiscent of H.R.Geiger’s famous creation, but that’s a small fault – at heart this is a watchable little B-picture that just about delivers.

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Pitch Black (15)
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Content updated: 12/12/2017 10:17

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