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Pitch Black (2000)


Fight Evil With Evil

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 110 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15


“Finally found something worse than me, huh?” asks Vin Diesel as the murderous baldster Riddick in ‘Pitch Black’. Knowing that there’s something out there worse than Diesel won’t come as a huge surprise to any of us who know our movies – but what does raise eyebrows is that he’s not actually referring to Steven Seagal. No, in ‘Pitch Black’ the threat lurking in the shadows is something almost as bad.

The gist of things is this: an intergalactic transport ship, the passengers of which include the goggle-wearing Riddick (he can see in the dark – which you’re no doubt already guessing is going to come in handy later on) crash-lands on a mysterious unknown and apparently deserted planet. The trouble is, when darkness arrives, so too do flock upon flock of carnivorous CGI critters. Obviously that’s no use to anyone – particularly as our crew have decided they fancy a pleasant stroll through the desolate wasteland. So they gather together all the light sources they can get their hands on – torches, lava lamps, Ibiza glowsticks, golf trousers – and set off across the beastie-infested desert.

Though highly derivative of ‘Alien’ and featuring a couple of moments of unintentional hilarity (there’s a great bit where nobody can find the ever-scary Riddick, and it turns out he’s sunbathing on top of a hill in full view of everyone – with a parasol and everything!), this is an enjoyable space thriller that’s guaranteed to hold your interest for the full 110 minutes. Director David Twohy threatens to get a little overly-stylish on us with his excessive use of filters and daft camera angles, but he also paces things nicely and builds up no shortage of tension as the action unfolds.

In the end it’s just too similar to too many other sci-fi thrillers to be regarded an all-time classic, but it’s well worth a rent on these drizzly summer nights when there’s nothing on the telly. So close the curtains, shave your noggin, pull on your best pair of industrial-strength Speedo swimming goggles – and enjoy.

It's Got: Cole Hauser on weasel duty.

It Needs: More rave parties!

DVD Extras ‘Making of’ featurette, choice of feature commentaries, trailers, production notes, cast and crew bios, details of a DVD newsletter (Quick! Sign up! Now!) and – wait for it – genuine footage of the inaugural ‘Pitch Black’ rave party, featuring thousands of pilled-up Europratts waving luminous lumps of plastic around their mulleted heads, listening to some of the worst music ever produced turned up to its highest possible volume, and watching random clips of this very movie being beamed onto over-sized screens. Incredible! Why didn’t my town hold one of those?? DVD Extras Rating: 6/10


Pretty darn enjoyable, even if it’s not remotely original.