Pitch Black (unrated)

Pitch Black (unrated) follows a small group of interstellar travelers that are marooned on a desert planet

Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, a film is short lived in the theaters although it is basically a good film. It may be that it is released against a blockbuster movie or it is just not promoted properly. For whatever reason we can be thankful that we have a venue such as DVD so we can get another chance to see the film. Pitch Black (unrated) is such a film.

Pitch Black follows a small group of interstellar travelers that are marooned on a desert planet. There are three suns so darkness seems unknown on this bleak world. Among the survivors are Fry (Radha Mitchell) who has to assume the role of leader when the captain is killed on the ship. Johns, the bounty hunter (Cole Hauser) on a mission to return escaped convict Riddick (Vin Diesel) to justice. Among the others are a collector of antiques and an Islamic holy man along with his young wards. The trouble starts when they discover that the world previously had some miners on it and that they all met a horrible death. Every twenty-two years there is a full eclipse that plunges the world into complete darkness and permits a subterranean predator to surface and basically rip apart any living thing it finds. Sure there are many unanswered questions like how did these creatures come about on a world mostly in light but one facet of good science fiction is the ability to get the audience into the story and suspend disbelief. If you want to just enjoy yourself your push aside these questions and just watch Pitch Black.

The cast is actually first rate. Mitchell, perhaps best known for her role as the sensitive photo editor in High Art, shows she has a pretty good range. She is part Ripply from the Alien saga, part vulnerable damsel in distress. It’s a pretty difficult line to tread by Mitchell does it well here. The real star of Pitch Black is Diesel as the murderous convict. His eyes were altered to see in the dark (again, don’t ask too many questions) which makes this character vital to the survival of the group and a bit of an enigma. Is he plotting their deaths to escape or will he really help? He also gets the funnier lines that help to break up the terror. The rest of the cast does well although character development is somewhat sacrificed for one scene or terror after another.

David Twohy directs Pitch Black with a solid style. The three suns, each a different provides a means for Twohy to play with the lighting and film quality. The scenes change from muted blues to yellows and reds as the suns rise and set. He moves the action along at a good pace. The very first scene is action packed and starts you on a roller coaster ride that lasts most of the movie. While not as well done as his film ‘The Arrival’ Pitch Black deserves more notice that its short life in the theater garnered.

The disc is very good. The sound is presented in both Dolby 5.1 and DTS. The DTS version did seem to provide a bit more in the way of back fill between the rear speakers. The video is anamorphic 2.35:1. The quality is difficult to gauge in places since the film is processed to bleach out the colors and highlight specific frequencies. Still, the picture is crisp and clear without any artifact. There are two commentaries provided director David Twohy and Actors Vin Diesel and Cole Hauser; David Twohy and producer Tom Engelman and visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang. They are interesting and will provide a lot of behind the scenes gossip and production notes for those interested. There is also a making of feature along for the ride. The difference between the rated R and unrated versions is in the level of violence shown. In the unrated version there is a lot more of the CGI pull the bodies apart effects. Get some popcorn, pizza and a beer, call your friends over, shut off all the lights in your living room and enjoy Pitch Black.

Review by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com

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