Pitch Black

Pitch Black gave us hope that a sci-fi movie was finally going to make good use of all those special effects at filmmakers’ disposal and knock our socks off. But, alas, my socks are still on.

This flick knows the sci-fi horror formula, but not much else. From its washed out, constantly hazy camera shots to the motion sickness-inducing movement of some of the scenes, David Twohy’s Pitch Black is a metal-plated cliché with plenty of neat props and a few compelling moments that make you wish the plot and acting were better. Sort of a cross between Alien and Gremlins, the story is predictable and less than compelling.

A space vessel crashes on a barren planet carrying an unconvincing, cute yet hard-edged female captain (Radha Mitchell), a sometimes interesting violent convict (Vin Diesel), a morphine-addicted mercenary and a few less notable passengers. In fact, Captain Fry almost dumps them as extra baggage just before the big crash. Funny thing is, we might not have missed them.

The group’s experience on the planet, which has three suns, is mostly a struggle for survival. When night falls, due to a rare eclipse, a frustrating chase begins, the acting gets worse and the bleached-out images on the screen change to a B flick by flashlight. We sit there guessing who’ll be picked off next by octopus bats from hell, and most of the time we’re right.

It’s hard to feel anything about the one-dimensional characters in this movie, mostly due to their uninteresting or inconsistent personalities. After trying to kill most of her passengers in their cryonic sleep chambers, Fry ends up in a moral dilemma about sacrificing her own life to save someone else. I don’t know, maybe running from space beasts with a taste for human blood changes a person.

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