Pitch Black is a 2000 science fiction thriller film co-written and directed by David Twohy, who eventually served as the director for the preceding sequels. The film stars Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, and Keith David. The film received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics and moviegoers, but it did become a sleeper hit with a cult following warranted that warranted a second and third installment.
In Pitch Black, it follows a criminal named Richard Riddick as he is being transported to prison in a cargo spacecraft. Unfortunately, when the spaceship is damaged by debris causing an emergency crash landing on a desert planet. Riddick escapes, but eventually joins forces with the surviving crew when predatory alien creatures begin attacking them. The film is shot in a very interesting way. The cinematography definitely has a different look and feel than a lot of other films being released at this time.
The film has a modest budget of twenty-three million, which might be appreciated better when the set-design and special-effects are taken into account. The special-effects certainly don’t come off as cheap or miniscule, but I definitely feel a lower-budget mood set by the rest of the film. The camera-work often looks like a throwback to older films of similar subject-matter, but I can never really decide whether or not I like it.
In some moments it looks better than in some others, but I don’t ever really think that I developed a strong opinion either here or there about it. I don’t think that it’s good nor bad, but I am not really convinced that it helped induce any feelings that I had about the film. The set-design is worth acknowledging, however. Like I said, the budget itself is relatively light when you consider all of the variables that went into the film. Albeit vaguely, Pitch Black does well to illustrate a planet. The minimalism can be wrote off as building suspense and mystery. I didn’t feel all that much of that while watching, but I can see that suspense and mystery was in the design.
The acting is something to be desired, as well as the characters. Vin Diesel does well enough in his role of Riddick. Towards the end, the character started to develop and the actor was able to show more emotion and personality for the role. When that didn’t happen though, his character doesn’t have much besides cliche scare-tactics and misfired attempts at making him seem menacing. The rest of the characters didn’t have any development. I didn’t appreciate them, and even some of the acting was something to be desired. Lines are done with deadpan delivery that makes me believe that the characters care even less than I did.
I feel like the film lacked any sense of personality. Riddick is bad. People on planet. Planet have aliens. Aliens bad. And that’s about all that I ever really felt from it. A paper-thin story with paper-thin characters. It has a cool idea but doesn’t have the supports to hold itself up.
In conclusion, Pitch Black isn’t an unwatchable film. I don’t think that it’s a bad film, but it doesn’t really offer anything other than a generic science-fiction movie supported by underdeveloped characters and what could have been a potentially been a great premise premise.