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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Vin Diesel
Radha Mitchell
Cole Hauser
Keith David.
Directors
David Twohy.
Screenwriters
David Twohy.
Running Time
108 minutes

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Pitch Black
First-rate sci-fi frightener.


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Plot
The survivors of a spaceship wreck face internal danger and alien peril.


Review
Low-budget this may be, but it's evident from the word go that writer/director Twohy has wrung every last drop from it — the opening crash sequence being an object lesson in how to manufacture shell-shocking, sci-fi thrills from tuppence-ha'penny: a fingernail-tearing, neck-wrenching ride into nose-dive terror, made all the more effective for its lack of warning and the unfamiliarity of the passengers — there's no comfy assurance that any of these people might make it to the second reel.

Indeed, casting an ensemble unburdened by former role recognition is one of Pitch Black's primary strengths — forcing the viewer to take them at face value, this face value. So, Mitchell is sexy and stubborn as the pilot suddenly thrust into command, Hauser looks (and, at times, acts) like a young Tom Berenger, and David is solid as the faithful holy man. It's Diesel on show-stealing form, though: a voice growling like granite in a vice and his sheer, bulging presence perfect for the fearsome, serial-escapee, psycho convict.

And before you know it (provided you're so inclined), you're wrapped up in the race-against-time repair job hampered by the ongoing battle for basic survival and sanity in a blinding, hostile alien environment. On this front, Twohy (with director of photography, David Eggby) again scores by creating a stylish look for the piece. Bleached by the glare from the planet's three suns, there is perpetual daylight, although chronology is adhered to in a world without night by changing colours — the strongest star throwing a searing blue tinge, the other two combining for a burnished, day-long sunset effect. And though the script clangs alarmingly early on (a few one-liners are allowed to fall flat by poor delivery or poorer reaction), the movie seems to grow in confidence, with the odd flash of gore to keep the horror fans sated but the tension wisely cranked increasingly taut.

There's no time for stragglers as the film cracks on apace, trimmed of any and every extraneous linking scene. It's far more concerned, in fact, with bombarding its audience with artful visuals and brutal, thumbnail confrontation scenes than spoon-feeding unnecessary character exposition.


Verdict
Don't let The Chronicles Of Riddick put you off — this is filmmaking that's lean, mean and (in Diesel) boasts one hell of a fighting machine.


Reviewed by Darren Bignell


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Pitch Black
Empire Star Rating

Stay in the light.

If the whole movie would have been as rich as the last fifty minutes then I would have given it a four, but do to the horrible opening and bad set up that fills up about the whole first hour of the film, I will have to settle on a three. Overall a solid film that is sadly overshadowed by to many problems. If only the first hour would have been as rich as the last fifty minutes ...huh sigh. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jericho117 at 10:34, 21 October 2013 | Report This Post


Meh, but, meh...

I was very put off by the in-your-face effects, which weren't even that great, but helped build something of a homey kind-of feel. Whilst the characters baffer on about how they'll survive, it's a real shame that they missed out on some great oppurtunities for some 'other-wordly' cinematography, and instead, tried to make way for some characters, and use colour filters. The storyline was average, but what went right about this movie was the suspenseful, build up to the sunset, which even led... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by YouWillBeUnprepared at 05:21, 08 May 2012 | Report This Post


Meh, but, meh...

I was very put off by the in-your-face effects, which weren't even that great, but helped build something of a homey kind-of feel. Whilst the characters baffer on about how they'll survive, it's a real shame that they missed out on some great oppurtunities for some 'other-wordly' cinematography, and instead, tried to make way for some characters, and use colour filters. The storyline was average, but what went right about this movie was the suspenseful, build up to the sunset, which even led... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by YouWillBeUnprepared at 05:21, 08 May 2012 | Report This Post


Vin Diesel = Badass

Pitch Black is equal parts scary, funny, cool and action packed. Vin Diesel is the standout as a complete badass who even has night vision goggles sewn on to his eyeballs. visually stunning, with each of the planets suns shining a different blinding hue into the camera. The last 45 minutes in the darkness is brilliant. You can never know which character will be offed next and where it will come from. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stevolegendbauer at 07:12, 11 August 2010 | Report This Post


classic

utterly brilliant and one of my fav films OF ALL TIME ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Smokinator at 20:22, 14 December 2009 | Report This Post


Pitch Black - Low Budget = Great Sci Fi

Still Vin Deisels best perfomance to date and probably the best Alien's clone we've yet seen. Pitch Black came out of nowhere with a miniscle budget and zero hype. That it did reasonably well on release and even better on rental and sell - through is a testiment to a smart script, impressive creature effects and Diesel's spot on performance as Riddick. A masterpiece in low budget film making and tons better than the semi sequel Chronicles of Riddick. Pitch black is a near classic. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chris welch at 13:48, 30 July 2007 | Report This Post


Radha Mitchell is amazing(spoiler)

In this film, the effects are amazing, the story is very well planned and full of suspense and the climax is quite satisfying, but what really makes it as incredible as it is, is Radha Mitchell. I think she brilliant portrays Fry as a person tortured by regret.Its really painful at the end, but ultimately uplifting, when she is killed because she knew the risks of leaving the ship but felt she had to try to save the passengers she almost let die earlier to achieve redemption. Pretty complex stu... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Those_wedontspeak_of at 23:57, 21 April 2006 | Report This Post


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