Pitch Black (2000)

(In theaters, February 2000) This film must be considered as an SF B-movie in order to be properly assessed. It doesn’t set out to re-invent the alien-creatures-eat-humans type of story, but is plays effectively within the limits of the sub-genre. No one in the audience can be blamed for wanting to leave after the first five minutes (the direction of the opening crash is a blur of flashes, jerky camera work and incoherent editing), but the movie settles down after that for a rather good second act, with plenty of chills, thrills and fun visuals. Vin Diesel makes a strong impression as bad-boy Riddick. The script falters by the time the last act come through, with no clear big finale, and a muddled last five minutes. The intentionally grainy cinematography might not be to everyone’s liking, but fits perfectly with the idea of a B-movie. One thing to like is the film’s reliance on purely visual cues in order to provide a sense of strangeness. (Even though the film severely fumbles with its “darkness” motif, as most of the latter half takes place in a full-moonlit environment.) Not great SF -the ecosystem is patently impossible- but great fun, and sometimes that’s all you need.

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