#140 Pitch Black

Pitch Black (2000)

Dir: David Twohy

In the land of the blind, the infra-red eyed man is King!

When a spacecraft crash lands on an abandoned desert planet, dangerous convict Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) manages to escape. However he’s not the biggest danger on the planet, and the other surviving passengers reluctantly join with him and make use of his unusual abilities to attempt to escape the onslaught of the planet’s nocturnal monsters, just as the planet enters a rare long eclipse.

Rather than being some chivalrous leader, Riddick is a clear anti-hero. Not much is said about his past crimes, though we do learn that he was destined to be incarcerated where he wouldn’t see the light of day again, and so had eye surgery to give him night vision, an adaptation that proves very useful when the planet is engulfed in darkness. Despite his shady past he does have moments in which he acts in the interests of others, and there’s a sense by the end that this may be some form of redemption for him, and that he want’s to leave his previous ways behind.

Darkness provides one of the few different styles achieved in the film’s scenes. It switches between settings of the interior ship, then the desert landscape of the planet, and then the dark night-like scenes sometimes with night-vision sequences from Riddick’s point of view. I especially enjoyed this variety of settings within the first part of the film as the contrasts provided interesting changes between certain scenes.

Another benefit of the extreme darkness is that it’s cleverly used to minimise the showing of monsters. This probably helped with the budget which was relatively small at $23 million, so not having to use too much on extensively computer-generating the creatures would have been a great help with finances. It’s also a very good ploy when aiming to make any monsters more intimidating when they remain largely unknown. Really the plot here does rely a lot on the idea that the humans (or humanoids) are likely surrounded, but they just can’t always see the full extent of their peril.

‘Pitch Black’ became the start of a series, with the title being subsequently modified to ‘The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black’, and despite not causing any incredible storm when it opened at the box office, it proved a hit with many sci-fi fans, and so spawned two more feature films, and some animated fillers too. The third film simply titled ‘Riddick’ is due out September 2013.

Riddick seems to be a character and franchise that Vin Diesel is very passionate about personally, and though it’s taken a while to get the third film into production it has finally been achieved. I suppose I’ll have to try watching the second film ‘The Chronicles of Riddick’ at some point, and see if I warm to it some more, as this didn’t blow me away much that I could enthuse about it much, but I am slightly interested in seeing how things are developed.



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