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IN SHORT: "da bomb" . . .
. . . raved a whole bunch of sixteen slash seventeen year olds on the way out of a sneak of Pitch Black, a sci-fi thriller with more than a couple of good shocks, great scenery, good effects and a mean mutha of a bad guy who can take down big bad aliens, um, with both hands. Scary? Sometimes. Watching Pitch Black is more like taking the really big, really dangerous 'coaster ride at a nearby themepark. You know you're going to have fun, but you also know you're walking out safe. I ain't getting Cranky about a fun ride. The scenery is great (same location and much of the same crew from the Mad Max flix) the effects work, and there are at least two or three really, and I mean REALLY good ones. More than worthy of the oversized popcorn.
Somewhere in deep space, a large transport -- three crew and forty passengers in hypo-sleep -- crashes onto a desert planet. Docking pilot, and now babelicious Captain of Our Survivors Caroline Fry (Radha Mitchell) is the leader of the bunch. Second to her is a bounty hunter/cop named Johns (Cole Hauser) who is transporting mass murderer Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel), the meanest mother... you know... to another round of imprisonment. The survivors (and I'll not comment on who they are, lest I give away which folk don't make it -- there are a pair of good surprises in there, too) bake under the rays of three, count 'em three suns. They search for water and discover that the local lifeforms may not be friendly. They bake to a golden brown. They find a settlement, and a ship, abandoned 22 years earlier. It is readily apparent to our victims-in-waiting that the only way off the planet is to get the abandoned ship working. To do that, they have to transport gear from the crash site to the settlement.
When the three suns are eclipsed by a huge, ringed planet and the planetary natives come out in the dark for a wee bit o' lunch. Not knowing how long "night" is, the fools decide to make the journey in the dark, with Riddick's ability to see nocturnally (explained in the flick) their only ticket to salvation. Otherwise, they're sushi-on-a-skeleton. But the question hangs over their heads: will Riddick help or will he slit the throats of everyone else and high-tail it to freedom. The journey in the dark; the inevitable confrontation between Riddick and Johns work beautifully. Get yourself in with an audience that talks back to the screen and it'll get pretty damned noisy <g>.
Writer/director Dave Twohy rightfully conceals as much about the alien critters as possible. This builds the tension. But there are thousands of em! At first, you get a real rush from the thought of an impossible task and the sneaky way the forms of the creatures and their numbers are revealed. These aliens tend to swarm, and that tires fast. Though it's not non-stop thrilling, you get at least two one-on-one confrontations courtesy Diesel's Riddick. Both totally rock).
Trust me. If this sucker didn't work, it'd be slammed as a second rate Aliens (or maybe a first rate Screamers, which was a similarly themed, real stinker of a couple of years back). Pitch Black was a fun ride.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Pitch Black, he would have paid...
Definite date flick, especially for the teen kidlets.
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