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Monday, April 2, 2012

Day 93: Pitch Black

Pitch Black
A much better title than "Planet Face"

You know, I don't think I've done any movie reviews involving aliens. That's kind of weird. Aliens are the ultimate unknown when it comes to horror. Some believe that there are definitely alien races out there while others are convinced that we are the only life in the entire universe. The truth is that we don't know at that is why aliens are so effective in horror. We are already fearful of them before we've even seen what they look like or know what they want. What better way to to explore the alien unknown than with big, bad Vin Deisel?

Pitch Black is a futuristic sci-fi/thriller/horror movie starring Vin Deisel (Iron Giant, Fast and the Furious) as the dangerous criminal, Riddick. Riddick is being transported to a prison via cargo spaceship when debris from a comet damages the ship, causing it to crash land on an alien planet. Surviving the crash are pilot Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell, Phone Booth, Silent Hill), Imam (Simon Burke, The Thing, Barbershop), the mercenary transporting Riddick, William Johns (Cole Hauser, School Ties, Good Will Hunting), young Jack, and a few others. The planet they have landed on is a barren desert with three suns keeping the world in perpetual daylight. They find the bones of giant creatures and the remnants of research facilities, but no living beings. Riddick manages to escape and when one of the crew goes missing down a hole and is presumed dead, Johns captures Riddick and blames him. Fry investigates the hole and discovers winged alien creatures living in the darkness. The group travels to the research facilities to get water and supplies to help power their ship when they discover that an eclipse is about to occur and the aliens will come out of their caves. Darkness falls and the aliens come out, killing off the crew in brutal fashion. Riddick has a special feature that allows him to fight the aliens; in prison he received a procedure that allows him to see in the dark. Will Johns hinder the escape, what is Jack's secret, and will Riddick save the day?


Pitch Black uses a great mixture of science fiction and action to make a fun horror movie. That's right, I said horror movie. Yes it's also a sci-fi movie, but there is still plenty of horror. I know some purists will disagree with me (I look forward to your angry comments that I won't read). Pitch Black has a pretty original and creative story that, despite being science fiction, still feels very real. We are fearful of Riddick, we are fearful of Johns, and we are definitely afraid of the aliens. The aliens look like a mixture between a hammerhead shark and a gargoyle. I usually prefer makeup and prosthetic pieces to computer animation, but this is one instance where CGI works in a movie's favor. The darkness also works in the movie's favor, keeping the audience on guard for anything that may jump out and grab the characters.

The acting is solid all around, with good performances by Radha Mitchell and Vin Deisel. That's right, I said Vin Deisel was good. This was before he was in every movie from 2002-2005, where a lot of people grew to hate him. He plays Riddick very well with a quite danger. Mitchell does very well as the strong captain that is willing to die for her crew. Cole Hauser plays Johns with just the right amount of creepiness. My one real complaint with the movie is that it's just too long. It clocks in at about an hour and forty-eight minutes. That's just too long for a movie that doesn't have a complicated story. 

Always brush and floss after devouring human flesh

Pitch Black is a fun science fiction movie with lots of action and an original story. The aliens look good for CGI and the alien planet set looks convincing. The acting is very good all around and it helps create a true sense of fear and horror. If you leave you preconceived notions at the door, you'll like this movie.


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