johnlink ranks PITCH BLACK (2000)

I haven’t seen this in several years, so I went into PITCH BLACK curious as to whether or not my mind had retroactively inflated the value of this movie. This is a film I know I liked better than I should, and much of that can be attributed to being a pleasantly surprised 17 year-old upon this film’s release in February of 2000. I went into it thinking it would be terrible, and instead found that Director David Twohy had successfully drawn an interesting character out of Vin Diesel. Coming back more than a decade later, could PITCH BLACK still hold up?

I watched PITCH BLACK (2000) on 6.27.12. It was my fourth viewing of the film, and first in probably a decade.

The biggest problem this movie has is its script. This is a story about a spaceship which crash lands on a planet. Some people survive, including a convict (Vin Diesel). Turns out that there are aliens on the planet which hate light, but love to hunt in the dark. And an eclipse be comin’.

The script makes some amazing coincidental leaps. First of all, the planet has oxygen and can sustain human life. Secondly,  the aliens have been in hiding for 22 years since the last eclipse, but the team crash lands just as another is about to happen. Third, they crash land just a couple of kilometers away from the human settlement on the planet. Fourth, Vin Diesel’s character just happened to have his eyes shined so he can see in the dark.

There is much to get past in enjoying this movie, and I can see why many can’t. For me, the characters are endearing enough and the unfolding story is unique enough to keep me interested. Diesel may not be the world’s greatest actor, but Riddick is the sort of animalistic beast he was meant to play. He starts as the villain and morphs into the hero. The cop chasing him turns out to be a drug-injecting bounty hunter with loose morals. The common folk accidentally shoot innocent people in the head. Even if the aliens’ abilities to kill seem to wax and wane depending on the scenario, they are effectively scary enough to heighten the tension even further. But had the characters not spent the first hour of the movie getting us to care what happens to them, the final hour of darkness would not matter in the least.

The color filters in this movie should annoy me more than they do. The film is bright yellow in some parts, and a cold steely blue in others. But the interiors are shot traditionally, so the contrast in color filters maintain a consistency  which prevents them from being tedious. Once it becomes nighttime the film delivers some annoying moments of a small light magically illuminating a giant area, but I suppose that would be par for the course in a horror/sci-fi flick of this sort.

The relationship between Riddick and the bounty hunter, Johns (Cole Hauser) is not bad. There is a solid plot point explaining why Johns takes the morphine. We see that their hatred is born out of a blend of disdain, respect, and desperation. There is a parallel with what their eyes are used for. Riddick’s see danger, and Johns’ are the landing spot for his needle, dulling his pain. Some of the finer points of this story aren’t just mere throw away bits, which is why it is so baffling how much coincidental silliness found its way into the big picture.

Ultimately, this is a film which I find entertaining, though I could certainly hear an argument for why someone does not. The effort is certainly apparent, but the film may have more grand aspirations than its sporadically gimmicky script allows. In the realm of action-sci/fi flicks, this is an above-average entry.





~ by johnlink00 on June 29, 2012.

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