August 22, 2012

Pitch Black (2000)

"A group of marooned space travelers struggle for survival on a seemingly lifeless sun-scorched world."

Since I had nothing better to do, I decided to rewatch "Pitch Black" for only the second time in nearly 12 years. I remembered really liking it when I first saw it, but I hated the sequel and never returned to it.

I'm not entirely sure, but I think that it was the first movie with David Twohy as a director that I ever watched. I know he wrote the screenplays for quite a few other movies, but without going through his IMDb credits, I couldn't possibly tell you what they all were. Since they probably weren't horror, I don't expect any of you even care anyway.

Anyway, having recently picked this up on DVD for $2 from the County Fair, of all places, I was feeling quite pleased with my bargain. The euphoria didn't last for more than 5 minutes past my initial purchase though and certainly didn't continue into the movie itself.

Honestly, what was I thinking? This wasn't my kind of thing or a particularly good film at all. If I'd wanted a poor man's "Aliens" clone with often shaky camerawork, at least one expletive carefully timed to be uttered every 10 minutes, and a lot of unintelligible mumbling then I probably could have watched "Alien 3" and hated it even more.

Of course, Vin Diesel as Riddick made up for a lot of the flaws by being uber cool. This was his big break in the movies, and both the sci-fi and action nerds went crazy for more of him at the time. I have to admit that the Riddick of this movie was worth every bit of the hype as well. He really did come across as dangerous yet fairly heroic with it.

It's no big surprise that as a former fan of "Farscape", I really liked Claudia Black, so she was the main attraction for watching "Pitch Black" again. I was, however, disappointed by not seeing very much of her. Whatever happened to "Farscape" anyway? It just sort of ended in mid-season as far as I remember. I also liked the grey and blue girl (not the plant one), but I'll be damned if I can remember her name now.

Just like "Farscape", there are a lot of Australians in "Pitch Black". I would guess that the movie was either filmed in Australia or had a lot of Australian funding. I didn't sit through the end credits to find out so you'll have to look those details up for yourself if you feel like it.

I can't place Radha Mitchell who played Carolyn, but I know I've seen her in something else. It's kind of sinful to ever forget somebody as sexy and beautiful as her. I'm writing this review while very tired and so will deeply regret not editing it to appear cleverer tomorrow.

The major problem I had with "Pitch Black" was that it took so long to really get started without the excuse of any character development. I couldn't tell who was who or what their roles were for at least half an hour. When I did find out, I didn't particularly care about any of the characters either.

At the 45 minute mark, the action eventually kicked-off, and the reptillian, Hammer-headed, vampire bat-like aliens were kind of great considering that they were computer generated. Then it turned into a load of much needed character development, some unnecessarily boring sci-fi nonsense, and everything slowed down yet again.

As much as I would like to blame my old TV, the lack of colour and yellow hue when everyone was out on the planet's surface was intentional, but it got really annoying. I was very pleased when night came, even though then the film suffered from being too dark and SyFy-channelly. Too many shots of bad actors looking worried at each other or arguing also got old pretty fast.

I did enjoy the creature attacks, and there was, surprisingly, some nice use of suspense, bu, with a running time of nearly two hours, "Pitch Black" was quite badly paced and overlong for what it was. The whole thing could have been done in half that time and been a lot more exciting.

The ending, which set things up for the continuation of "The Chronicles of Riddick", felt very mistimed especially after a downbeat moment delivered its punchline too early. A big bang of some kind was needed to make the movie memorable.

I'm going to rate "Pitch Black" as average even though it was slightly below. I didn't completely hate it, but unfortunately, it hasn't aged well and I didn't love it either.

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