Pitch Black the Director's Cut

Year 2000

Vin Diesel as Richard B. Riddick
Radha Mitchell   as   Carolyn Fry
Cole Hauser as William J. Johns
Keith David as   Abu 'Imam' al-Walid  
Director - David Twohy  
Screenwriters - Jim Wheat
  - Ken Wheat
  - David Twohy

Pitch Black is a wonderful drive-in movie style flick. Check the laws of physics at the door and get ready for full out science fiction action tale. There's rarely non-Michael Bay moment in the theatrical release. In the director's cut, which is superior to the theatrical release, there's a little back story to the characters that makes them worth rooting for.

You must've heard about this one. There's a whole franchise (live action movies, video games, animated features, novels, and comic books) devoted to the main character Richard B. Riddick. He's like a future version of Snake Plissken.

This commentary is about the unrated director's cut of Pitch Black. The use of the word "unrated" may be technically accurate but the additional content shouldn't change the rating. It's not like there's nudity or more grizzly scenes included. Like I mentioned, there's a bit of a back story to the characters of Johns and Fry. In the theatrical version, I wasn't that fond of either one. In the director's cut, there's a humanity added for each character that makes me sympathize with them. This is a good thing.

The story involves survivors from a space ship crash landing who must fight against the creatures of the world they landed on. The special addition is that it's night. The twist is that there is a character, Riddick (Diesel), who can see at night because he has special eyes. But Riddick is a criminal force along the lines of a mean Conan the Barbarian.

There are lots of parallels between Riddick and Conan and maybe that's one of the reasons Riddick caught on. I don't mean that people were reminded of Conan. I mean that whatever the creator of Conan, a man named Robert E. Howard, tapped into, the director and writers of Pitch Black also drank from.

Riddick is big, strong, agile, and a survivor. He's as quick with his mind as he is with reflexes. He's also laconic and prone to be in charge through subliminal intimidation. He really is a wonderfully invented character.

One aspect to the movie that I really enjoyed was that at the beginning, you didn't know who would be the hero. Would it be Johns (Hauser) who is bringing back the criminal Riddick? Would it be Fry (Mitchell) who is a ship's officer without captain's training? Or would it be Riddick who is out for himself.

It's obvious that the Riddick character stole the movie, but that doesn't mean he was the hero, so I won't say more about it.

The pacing and scene placement is great. The alternate universe rules of director/writer David Twohy are only rarely bent.

Don't expect perfection, though. The director will often sacrifice credibility for effect. One case in point is that a second planet is near the survivor's planet. You can see it take up most of the sky. This second planet, complete with rings, must be about a quarter of a million miles away from the survivor's planet. Although this makes for a great shot of something like Jupiter rising on the horizon, if this really happened then one or both of the planets would be torn apart through gravitational stress.

Or why, after a meteorite punched a hole in the ship in deep space, would a bright be seen shining through the hole? Because it looks cool, I guess.

The biggest problem to me is the origin of the monsters. If they had evolved on the planet, then the large dinosaurs whose bones we see would never have lived long enough to evolve much less hatch and live to adulthood. What do the night monsters live on during the twenty or so years between dark periods?

This glaring hole drags down the movie. If it wasn't for the scenes and mood and fun factor, it would have have relegated this movie to the Torn and Frayed category.

On a side note, a friend of mine really enjoys the work of Keith David, who plays Abu 'Imam' al-Walid in the movie. I have to admit that more I see of Keith David, the more I'm starting to believe that he should be added to the list of worthwhile supporting actors.

Blasphemy and profanity, but no nudity. It has some chick flick potential.

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