Discs Are Rated
Click above to purchase "Pitch Black(Unrated)" at amazon.com
review by Ren C.
Running Time: 109 minutes
Starring Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Vin Diesel
Written by Jim and Ken Wheat
Directed by David Twomy
Retail Price: $26.95
Features: Audio Commentary with director David Twomy,
Vin Diesel and Cole Hauser, Audio Commentary with director
David Twomy, producer Tom Engelman and visual effects
supervisor Peter Chiang, Making-of Featurette, Raveworld
Pitch Black Event, Production Notes, Recommendations, DVD
Newsletter, Cast and Crew Bios, Trailers
Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1,
English Captions, Chapter Search
In my opinion, it is very difficult to make a good
science-fiction movie that will not be compared to all of
the great science-fiction movies that have come before.
While "Pitch Black" definitely has elements drawn from some
of the greats, it stands out on its own as a very
entertaining and enjoyable film.
In the beginning of the film, the plot resembles "Alien"
had it taken a different turn. The occupants of an
interstellar commerce ship are suddenly awakened from their
hypersleep by bolts shooting through the ship. The captain
is killed in this attack, and it is up to their science
officer Carolyn Fry to pilot them out of the firestorm that
they have gotten themselves into. She does so, but not
without making a decision that will come back to haunt her
later. The ship crashes on a deserted planet, and the
inhabitants of the ship start to explore and determine how
they can get off the planet.
Among these inhabitants is the most vicious killer in the
galaxy Richard Riddick (Vin Diesel), whom we meet tied up
Hannibal Lecter style, and the man that arrested him,
William Johns (Cole Hauser). The passengers are rightfully
scared of Riddick, but he warns them that they have bigger
These bigger concerns are quickly found out, as the crew
finds out that the planet is infested with bird-like
creatures that only attack in darkness. Ordinarily this
wouldn't be a problem as the planet is usually in permanent
daylight. But, in one of those science fiction conventions,
an eclipse is approaching. Can the crew get the ship
repaired to get them off the planet and whose side is
Riddick really on?
A science-fiction movie, for me at least, is always an
equal combination of effects, acting and plot. This movie
holds up in all three regards. The effects, considering the
relative obscurity of the movie, are nothing short of
fantastic. While the cast is not made up of big name actors,
they work very well together as an ensemble. In addition,
Vin Diesel is shaping up to be the next superstar in
Hollywood, and this proves it. His first major starring role
in an action movie proves to be a good vehicle, as he lets
his natural charisma shine through, and steals every scene
that he is in. The plot, while occasionally falling victim
to some of the sci-fi clichés holds up very well, and
never wanders completely out of the realm of believability.
This film was virtually overlooked in theaters, which is
a shame because it is definitely an entertaining, exciting
thrill ride which, in the end, is a great deal of what we
expect science fiction movies to be.
Note that this is the unrated version, which contains
several more seconds of violent situations, however, barely
enough to earn the unrated rating.
As this is a recent science-fiction movie, the transfer
should hold up to certain standards. "Pitch Black" does this
without a problem. Blacks are deep and rich, and colors are
very bright and crisp. There were only a few specks of grain
noticed on the anamorphic transfer, and there were no
problems with the transfer that were distracting. Overall, a
very nice and memorable transfer.
As good as the video transfer is, the audio mix sounds
even better. Included here are both Dolby Digital 5.1 and
DTS transfers and both sound stellar. This is a very
action-packed movie, and the sounds of crash scenes and
fight scenes come through with a lot of bravado. In
addition, the dialogue is never muffled and, in fact, seems
to echo around the viewer in the spaceship. In this case,
the DTS track seems slightly weightier, although both tracks
are almost perfect.
Although not a full-fledged special edition, there are
some very nice features provided here. First up is a
making-of featurette that is a mix of promotional and behind
the scenes footage. I actually was hoping this featurette
would be a little longer, as there were a lot of things
about the movie which I would have liked to have explained
Next is the first of two full-length commentaries, this
one with director David Twomy and actors Vin Diesel and Cole
Hauser. While it is nice to have three of the principal
forces behind the movie involved in a commentary, there are
many gaps in it, and it seems as though Twomy does most of
the talking. However, what does come across is very
interesting and informative.
This is equally true of the second full-length commentary
that features Twomy along with producer Tom Engelman and
visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang. This is definitely
the meatier of the two commentaries with Chiang especially
speaking about how some of the effects in the movie were
created. Engelman speaks about how the movie was created,
and combined with Twomy's comments, there are far fewer gaps
than the other commentary.
The next feature is quite possibly one of the strangest
that I have ever seen. It is titled the "Raveworld Pitch
Black Event", and is basically a very long sequence of video
from raves held in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles,
occasionally intercut with scenes from "Pitch Black". I'm
not entirely sure why this is here, as it has a very
tenuous, at best connection with the movie. Although, with a
relatively low budget movie like this one, any promotion is
Wrapping up the special features are both the green and
red band theatrical trailers, a set of production notes, the
cast and crew bios, recommendations, and an ad for
Universal's DVD newsletter.
Like I've stated, this is a very enjoying sci-fi movie,
with an appealing cast and great effects. The video and
audio look great, and the features, while not necessarily
numerous in quantity, are rich in quality. The price is only
slightly steep, but not enough to keep me from giving this
movie a high recommendation.
(4/5 - NOT included in
NOT an average)