ⓘ Pitch Black (film)

Pitch Black (film)

ⓘ Pitch Black (film)

Pitch Black is a 2000 American science fiction action horror film co-written and directed by David Twohy. The film stars Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, and Keith David. Dangerous criminal Richard B. Riddick is being transported to prison in a spacecraft. When the spaceship is damaged by comet debris and makes an emergency crash landing on an empty desert planet, Riddick escapes. However, when predatory alien creatures begin attacking the survivors, Riddick joins forces with the surviving crew and other passengers to develop a plan to escape the planet.

Pitch Black was the final film credit of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, which merged with Universal Pictures during production. It was shot on a modest budget of US$23 million. Despite mixed reviews from critics, it was a sleeper hit, grossing over $53 million worldwide and developing its own cult following, particularly around the antihero Riddick. A sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick, was released in 2004 by Universal, with Diesel back as the title character and Twohy returning as writer and director. A third film, simply titled Riddick, was released in 2013, with Diesel and Twohy reuniting again.


1. Plot

In the distant future, the ship Hunter-Gratzner is transporting passengers in cryostasis. Among those are a Muslim preacher who goes by the title Imam accompanied by three young sons traveling to New Mecca, a boy named Jack, a pair of prospectors named Shazza and Zeke, a merchant named Paris and a law enforcement officer, William J. Johns, escorting the notorious criminal Richard B. Riddick. Riddick has illegal surgically modified eyes that allow him to see in the dark but are highly sensitive to light.

Debris from a comet tail ruptures the ships hull, killing the captain and sending the ship off course. The surviving crew members attempt to land the ship on a nearby planet. As the ship falls apart, docking pilot Carolyn Fry attempts to dump the passenger section to reduce their weight but co-pilot Owens prevents her. During the crash, several passenger compartments are destroyed and Owens is fatally injured.

The group explores their surroundings, noticing that the three suns surrounding the planet keep it in perpetual daylight. They find an abandoned geological research settlement, with a water well and a dropship with drained batteries. Zeke is killed but his body is missing and Riddick is immediately suspected. While searching for Zekes body, Fry barely escapes from photosensitive aggressive underground creatures. Johns offers Riddick a deal: if he helps them escape the planet, hell go free.

The group takes a power cell to the dropship. One of the young sons is ambushed and eaten inside one of the buildings, and they realize the geologists were all killed by the creatures. An orrery shows that an eclipse is imminent so the creatures will be free to hunt above ground. Johns informs the others that Riddick is able to pilot the dropship and Riddick reveals to Fry that Johns is actually a bounty hunter and a morphine addict.

The group returns to the crash site on a solar-powered sand truck to retrieve more power cells for the dropship but the eclipse begins just as they get there. Creatures pour out of the ground and rip Shazza in half. After regrouping, Fry suggests they return to the dropship. Riddick agrees to lead them on foot in the dark, thanks to his special sight, and the group salvages any light source they can find to scare away the creatures. The trip back to the dropship starts with the power of their light sources getting accidentally cut after Paris is killed and has them cross their tracks. After Riddick reveals Jack is actually female and the scent of her menstrual blood is attracting the most attention from the creatures, Johns suggests to Riddick to use Jack as bait to keep the creatures away from the rest of the group, but Riddick engages Johns in a hand-to-hand fight, wounds him and leaves him as a distraction instead. The rest of the survivors push on, while Riddick drags the power cells behind him.

After the Imams last child is killed and rainfall starts putting out their Molotov torches, the group, down to Riddick, Fry, Jack and Imam, finds shelter in a small cave not far from the settlement. Riddick leaves them there and takes the power cells to the dropship. Inside the cave, they discover bio-luminescent worms, which they stuff in the empty bottles to use as light. Fry leaves the cave and finds Riddick powering up the ship, ready to leave without them. She pleads with him to help her rescue the others but instead he just offers to take her with him. Carolyn changes her mind and demands that she and Riddick will go back and save the Imam and Jack. Riddick agrees out of sheer fascination with this decision. They find the Imam and Jack, and while returning to the ship Riddick is separated from the group and wounded by the creatures; Fry goes back to help Riddick but is speared and carried off by a creature after attempting to save him. Riddick makes it to the ship and waits until the last possible moment before engaging the engines to incinerate as many creatures as possible. While leaving the planet, Jack asks Riddick what they should tell the authorities about him; he tells her to say that Riddick died on the planet.


2. Cast

  • Sam Sari as Hassan
  • Claudia Black as Sharon Shazza Montgomery. A free settler who was travelling across the universe looking for a new home.
  • Simon Burke as Greg Owens, co-pilot. During the emergency landing, Owens stopped Fry from dumping the passenger section of the ship, which would have resulted in their immediate deaths. He dies during the emergency crash landing of the Hunter-Gratzner on the uninhabited desert planet.
  • Angela Moore as Dead Crew Member
  • Radha Mitchell as Carolyn Fry, a docking pilot for the commercial transport ship Hunter-Gratzner. She has a moment of moral weakness during the emergency landing attempt, intending to sacrifice the ships passenger section to save herself. A relationship develops between Fry and Johns until she finds out who he really is.
  • Les Chantery as Suleiman
  • Keith David as Abu Imam al-Walid. A Muslim preacher who was travelling to New Mecca for the annual preaching, and was stranded with others when the ship crashed. He is travelling with three young boys.
  • Vic Wilson as Captain Tom Mitchell
  • John Moore as John Zeke Ezekiel. A free settler along with Shazza and looking for a home.
  • Vin Diesel as Richard B. Riddick, a Furyan. A former mercenary, soldier, and pilot, an infamous criminal and murderer who was captured by Johns and placed in suspended animation along with Johns, who was to bring him to prison to collect a bounty. He has surgically altered eyes that allow him to see in the dark but needs protection from daylight.
  • Cole Hauser as William J. Johns. A morphine-addicted bounty hunter and war veteran who is transporting Riddick to high-security prison to collect a large bounty on him. When the ship crashed, he presented himself as an intergalactic police officer and spread the story about Riddick being a serial killer so he could capture him for himself.
  • Lewis Fitz-Gerald as Paris P. Ogilvie. An intergalactic arts dealer selling weaponry and arts from Earth and other planets. He also provided others with alcohol.
  • Firass Dirani as Ali
  • Rhiana Griffith as Jack. A young girl who was travelling on a distant planet for unknown reasons, and she was posing as a boy named Jack to avoid any suspicion.
  • Ric Anderson as Total Stranger

3. Reception

Pitch Black opened in 1.832 theaters on 18 February 2000, grossing $11.577.688 over its opening weekend and ranking 4th at the box office. The film has a domestic gross of $39.240.659 and an international gross of $13.947.000, giving it a worldwide total of $53.187.659.

Critical response

The film received mixed reviews. At review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 59% approval rating based on 109 reviews, with an average rating of 5.63/10. The sites consensus reads: "Despite an interesting premise and a starmaking turn from Vin Diesel, Pitch Black is too derivative and formulaic to fully recommend to sci-fi or action fans".

Roger Ebert gave the film 2 out of 4 stars. He gives the film credit for some promising story elements and a nice look, but expresses disappointment that more wasnt done with the alien world and that he was underwhelmed by the recycled human conflicts. He concluded it was "A step backward from The Arrival."


4. Home media

Pitch Black was released on VHS and DVD on October 10, 2000. It was re-released on DVD in 2004 as The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black. It was released on HD DVD on July 11, 2006, and on Blu-ray on March 31, 2009. The disc contains the theatrical edition and an unrated directors cut edition, containing 2 more minutes of extra material. A LaserDisc release was also planned, but cancelled by mid-2001 due to waning support for that format.


5. Related works

The movies sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick 2004, was also directed by David Twohy. A short animated movie released the same year, The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury 2004, was directed by Peter Chung. Dark Fury bridges the gap between Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick.

To tie in with the sequel, the film was novelized under the name The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black. The novel was written by Frank Lauria.

In 2000, a prequel to Pitch Black was released named Into Pitch Black, which was supposed to be a documentary film. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, a game for the Xbox and the PC, was also released in 2004 to critical acclaim. A remake of Butcher Bay, including a new campaign, was released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on 7 April 2009, under the title The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.

Riddick, a live-action sequel to The Chronicles of Riddick, opened on September 6, 2013, with both David Twohy and Vin Diesel attached. The sequel ties in more closely to the original Pitch Black.

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