Before his turn as the alien tree or angry driver man, Vin Diesel was piling his plate high with science-fiction horror shows. Pitch Black, the jargon-heavy romp through the final frontier is about as awkwardly confused as it gets for his early career. Editing devoid of logic crashes these characters on a planet of unknown origin but breathable atmosphere. One of the many great strokes of luck for this doomed crew of space travellers. A disaster of no concern presents the setting for David Twohy’s feature, which hopes to throw its audiences in the deep end of science-fiction. The least he could do is help us float, but many will drown in the thick waters of specialised vernacular.
Pitch Black lives or dies on how far audiences can believe in the anti-hero styling of Richard Riddick. The rest of the cast are uselessly boring, dire proclamations of keen survivalist ensembles. Alien this is not, yet it is clear to see that Twohy is trying to strike the same notes of survival. This time, though, the gang of inevitable casualties can strike a deal with the entity inflicting death and violence on them. Had it not been for Diesel’s portrayal, it would be easy to write off Riddick as a character. Instead, he is a burly oddity with superhuman strength. Thankfully, he is a man of few words. Every time his mouth gapes open or his time comes to save the day, he cannot refrain from saying something stupid or acting with a calm glare that comes across as brainless, rather than cool.
Still, the three suns operate as different indicators of place and time. Either way, it looks awful. When the blue sun shines brightly, the filters on the camera are blue as well. Still, it doesn’t matter. With or without these lighting choices the film never excites the mind because its camera is too uncontrollable. Any slight variation of excitement is met by a giddy cameraman, throwing his weight behind the movement. Zeke (John Moore) and his first encounter with the insects from this planet is the worst of the bunch. We can infer what is happening, but working out why it has happened or what is actually, physically going on, is an impossibility. Less may be more, but nothing is nothing close to the necessary details needed when bringing life to a science-fiction piece. Especially when Twohy packs his script full of grit and never backs it up with any moment that makes us feel either invested or a part of this new world.
What a simple time Pitch Black offers. A low-hanging B-Movie with A-List bulk and C-List aesthetics. Shots that mark out the simplicity of this sci-fi feature, Twohy may have a vision for these characters, but paints with broad strokes. They are unfulfilling at best, and dull at worst. Block colours string together this planet, but the logistics and geography of the actual area is lost entirely as characters flutter back and forth between big moments and slower shots. The future seems a forgettable place to live and die. Pitch Black may stack its cast up against the odds, but it is never as if the core players are in real danger. Even when the aliens appear it is not the menace they present audiences need to fear, but the generic design of them.