Combustible Celluloid
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With: Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Keith David
Written by: Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat, David Twohy
Directed by: David Twohy
MPAA Rating: R for sci-fi violence and gore, and for language
Running Time: 112
Date: 02/17/2000

Pitch Black (2000)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Now It's Dark...

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In conjunction with the theatrical release of The Chronicles of Riddick, Universal home video has re-released the original film, Pitch Black in a new unrated special edition.

Though it's rooted in an old-time science fiction framework, exploiting everything from Howard Hawks' The Thing from Another World to Ridley Scott's Alien, it still manages to surprise and delight, thanks to its small-scale attitude.

A transport ship full of passengers, including the dangerous murderer Riddick (Vin Diesel) crash lands on an alien planet. At first the survivors have trouble finding water on this barren desert ball, but their troubles increase when an eclipse brings out an army of nocturnal bat-like carnivores. In the grand old Hawks style, the good must team up with the bad (Riddick) to battle the worse.

Arthouse star Radha Mitchell (High Art) co-stars as the ship's captain, with Cole Hauser as a bounty hunter and Keith David as a holy man in search of New Mecca. Writer/director David Twohy invents a spectacular look for the film, giving the sky a foreboding color and the air itself an oppressive feel. He keeps the suspense turned on; not everything happens as you'd expect.

The new 2004 DVD release is now called The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black, though it would do well to distance itself from its ridiculous sequel. It has an introduction by Twohy, two commentary tracks, advertisements for more Riddick products, and several making-of featurettes.

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