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Pitch Black
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Pitch Black (2000)

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Plot Summary:
"A transport ship containing 40 passengers heading to other worlds for, among other reasons, settling, New Mecca, and for one passenger, Riddick, another cell. The ship encounters a tiny meteor storm and crash lands on a barren planet with only 1/4 of its complement surviving. Survival is tough with Riddick on the loose and no water in sight. However, come nightfall, they have even more to fear."

Reviewer: Nathan Roscoe @horrorasylum
Review Date: 26 November 2001 My Rating: out of 5


# The scenario of a group of crash-landed humans battling for survival on an inhospitable, monster-infested planet is hardly new - but this tremendous, pulse-pounding film shatters audience expectations and rewrites genre conventions at every turn.

With its unusual protagonists, hair-raising shocks and ingenious visual techniques (the first half is bathed in blinding brightness, the second is smothered by total darkness), this is the Seven of creature features.

A mortally-wounded spacecraft carrying an eclectic bunch of passengers is forced to land on an arid desert world, lit by the scorching rays of three suns. Initially, there are two major hurdles facing resourceful docking pilot Fry (Mitchell) and the other survivors: finding the necessary equipment to fix the ship amongst the seemingly abandoned scientific settlement and figuring out how to deal with Riddick (Diesel), a gravel-voiced, heavily-muscled convicted murderer, physically equipped to both see in the dark and snap your neck as if it were a matchstick.

But there's a hell of a lot worse to come. When one of them heads off to explore and never returns, the finger naturally points at the psychotic Riddick. However, when Fry retraces the missing man's steps to an underground cavern, she realises the purpose for that mysterious bone graveyard they encountered. Carnivorous, light-sensitive aliens live in the bowls of the plant, only venturing out for food when an eclipse occurs. And there's one due very, very soon...

Shot in Coober Pedy, Australia (earlier used in Mad Max, for which both films share cinematographer David Eggby), the Hollywood-size budget allows for an incredibly effective bleach-bypass process that intensifies the brightness, excellent production values and tremendous CGI work. But the lack of major star names, off-kilter characterisations, unpredictable plotting and jet black humour are more akin to a free-spirited Indie production.

Mitchell is a feisty heroine in the Ripley mould, and the rest of the cast do their job well. But they are overshadowed by Diesel's sensational, amusingly macho performance. He's got the pumped-up physique of Arnie, Jean-Claude or Sly, but there's more to his magnetic screen presence than impressive biceps. He's a major star-to-be.

Twohy pushes all the right buttons, slowly reeling in his audience in the first hour, with an ever-tightening grip on the uneasy, otherworldly ambience and the survivor's increasing awareness of the danger they are in.

By the time the sun sets (beautifully realised on screen), nerves are practically shredded and as the cast wander from one nightmare situation to the next, your heart rate has accelerated to a three-figure rate, matching the thumping percussion of Graeme Revell's stimulating score.

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