Pitch Black Movie Review
Remember Alien? Aliens? Remember the creepy atmosphere, the horrifying aliens, the desolate surroundings, and the terrifying conclusions? If Pitch Black can and should be compared to anything, it should be the first two Alien movies, since they use very similar formulas. The Alien movies are tough to beat, but even coming halfway close to those classics would give Pitch Black a worthy recommendation...
Pitch Black includes a group of unrecognizable actors (except maybe Vin Diesel, who has been in a few big films), which can be a plus if done right (Screamers is an example of a low budget sci-fi thriller that packs quite a punch). The movie boasts some aggressive direction as well, although at times the coloring seems a little too aggressive. But most of all, the movie deals with a group of stranded humans on a planet that has only one indigenous species - terrible creatures that only come out at night. But since there is no nighttime, they should be all right, except for the fact that the planet is about to go through a full solar eclipse.
For a low budgeted movie, Pitch Black looks pretty good. It has some impressive computer graphics and visually impressive scenes, whether referring to the last glimpse of light or the graveyard of skeletons that they find fairly quickly. The director uses some really cool angles and movements, and while some were disturbed by the sheer two-color scheme early on in the movie, I found it quite original.
But Pitch Black promises to be scary, suspenseful, and a worthy science fiction film. Does it live up to its promise? No. It's not that Pitch Black doesn't have some scenes that could make you jump (some people were jumping quite frequently - I wasn't), or that it has some exciting moments, but the movie overall never draws me into the atmosphere.
First off, it might be because non of the characters are very likeable. Radha Mitchell, the apparent star of the film (competing with Diesel), tries to kill all her passengers to save herself in the first three minutes of the film. Vin Diesel, though the hero of the film, is also an escaped psychopath (but I did like him). There is also a nerdy British guy who likes wine, and a group of Middle East religious folks who seem really out of place in this sci-fi film. And there is this one kid that is really annoying.
Second, there isn't anything memorable about the film. The eclipse sets in just as they are prepping to take the power cells to a ship they find, so, of course, the plot of the movie is that they need to get from Point A to Point B without being eaten. Along the way, they do stupid little things to get themselves killed. Furthermore, the movie does not take advantage of the fact that the movie is pitch black. The film hints at the fact several times that there are aliens all around, but never embellishes on that fact and never makes us frightened just because they are there.
Third, the ending is not very exciting. Where in Alien Signourey Weaver has the final showdown with the alien, and in Aliens, just when you think they have escaped and are on the ship, the queen alien shows up for one last round, Pitch Black has no twist or surprise. They get on the ship and leave.
And finally, the aliens themselves are no where as thrilling as the acid-spitting creatures in Aliens. The aliens in Pitch Black are creepy but not that much, and they are almost completely computerized. They are the weakest part of the movie when they should be the strongest. Also, there are too many of them. As soon as it begins to get dark, hundreds of thousands of aliens appears. A better approach would have been to have a more normal amount of creatures prowling the darkness, so then when the humans' lights go out, a few suspenseful scenes can be thrown in where they are trying to get to safety and actually have a chance of surviving. It means more suspense.
Pitch Black had potential and fulfills some of it, but not enough. It isn't a bad movie and it is probably worth watching if you have nothing better to do, but I'd rather watch Aliens for the twentieth time.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.