The Film: Pitch Black, 2000
The Principals: Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Keith David, Claudia Black, Rhiana Griffith, Lewis Fitz-Gerald.
The Premise: The crew and passengers of a space transport crash land on an arid planet with perpetual daylight due to the presence of three suns in the solar system. One of the passengers is Riddick (Diesel), a convicted murderer being transported to a slam (a maximum security prison) by Johns (Hauser), a bounty hunter. The group soon discovers that there’s a pending eclipse that occurs once every 22 years. When that happens, the planet will be overrun by nocturnal predatory aliens and Riddick, who has the ability to see in the dark, will be their only hope for survival.
“Yeah, you still got that Silent Hill stink on you…”
Is it Good: Hell yes, for multiple reasons, not the least of which are Diesel’s career-making performance and David Twohy’s inventive script and colorful (literally at times) direction. Twohy is a solid director, but I really dig his screenplays, as he can has a good sense of character, tension and pacing in a lot of his material. I was hooked on the premise of this movie before I knew that much about either Twohy or Diesel and wasn’t disappointed in the least once I saw it. Pleasantly surprised in fact.
As for Diesel, Riddick is still his signature role and I’m hoping he finds more of the acting as opposed to the movie star element of his career. There’s still part of me that thinks another Boiler Room or Iron Giant is out there with his name on it. And yeah, you can count me as one of those schlubs who’s looking for that third Riddick film (hopefully with Nick Chinlund). Necromonger bookends aside, I geeked on the second act of Chronicles. Director’s cut definitely worked better on that one.
Not often, but every once in a while, Hauser still has one of those disturbing Paparazzi flashbacks about the naked, coked-up Sizemore/Baldwin tag team sneaking up on him…
But Pitch Black was where the character dazzled, with Riddick’s “don’t mess with me and I won’t mess with you, but mess with me and you’ll get your wig split” mentality. Riddick in this movie was one of the genuine badasses in recent memory, without requiring either slo mo nor chop cutting action scenes to get the job done. Diesel simply radiated ominousness here. Supporting work by Cole Hauser and especially Radha Mitchell were also good.
Then you’ve got the hammerheads, fun little playmates that also didn’t disappoint in the creature department. Perfect foils for Riddick.
Is it Worth a Look: 10 years later, yep.
And yet another Farscape fan beholds Claudia Black…
Random Anecdotes: Chock full of one-liners and tasty dialogue o’plenty:
“Where’s Johns?” “Which half?”
“It’s the winner of the lookalike contest.”
“The ones [whispers] telling me to go for the sweet spot just to the left of the spine…”
“It’s a metallic taste, human blood…copperish. If you cut it with Peppermint Schnapps, that goes away.”
“Did not know who he was fuckin’ with.”
Cinematic Soulmates: Blade, Alien, and for some reason, The Defiant Ones.
State of Play
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