A transport ship containing 40 passengers heading to other worlds for, among other reasons, settling, New Mecca, and for one passenger, Riddick, another cell. The ship encounters a tiny meteor storm and crash lands on a barren planet with only 1/4 of its complement surviving. Survival is tough with Riddick on the loose and no water in sight. However, come nightfall, they have even more to fear...
Directed by: David Twohy
. Starring: Vin Diesel
, Radha Mitchell
, Cole Hauser
, Keith David
, Lewis Fitz-Gerald
, Claudia Black
, Rhiana Griffith
, John Moore
, Simon Burke
, Les Chantery
, Sam Sari
, Firass Dirani
, Ric Anderson
. Music by: Graeme Revell
Aliens was a great movie, probably the best sequel ever and on its own one of the best action movies ever made. Having said that, I think its time that Hollywood moves on and gets over it. There will never be another movie in this genre that is as good as Aliens, so any derivative of Aliens is a pointless waste of time and money. I'd rather watch a good movie again than see a bad remake of that movie, so the next time a film like Pitch Black comes along I'll simply pull out my dusty copy of Aliens and save myself the 8 bucks.
This is more a criticism of Hollywood than anything else, I'm sure it must be hard to come up with a premise that involves aliens on a distant planet that does not in some way pay homage to a movie like Aliens or Alien. For me it was hard not to draw parallels between this film and the movies I grew up with, and it was impossible for me to see it as an original plot concept. Do the aliens in these shows ever do anything besides eat people? I mean, is that their sole function in life? Lets think of something more interesting for the monsters to do in the next Aliens rip-off. Maybe the aliens aren't hungry at all, or if they are hungry, maybe all they eat is people's shoes and socks. Now we're getting somewhere.
Humans in the future without enough navigational sense to stay clear of solar systems when traveling at near light speed, crash on an unnamed, unknown planet in a strange solar system that for some bizarre reason has 3 suns. I don't know why the producers went with 3 suns as opposed to 2 suns, especially considering the fact that most solar systems are in fact binary, except to maybe make the little ones in the audience say "Aw cool, 3 suns!" The survivors, who are not very bright to begin with, are then presented with the extra little problem of having an escaped murder loose amongst them. His name is Riddick and for the first ½ hour of the movie they look around for him instead of looking for food or water! Lets get our priorities straight shall we? First thing you do after crashing on an alien planet is look for food we all know that, then you see how much Diet Dr. Pepper survived the crash of course, then you look for the escaped murders.. Sheesh. Where did these people learn to forage?
Let the clichés begin!
Of course the planet is totally dead with no water and no apparent life or ecosystem, and yet low and behold there is a breathable atmosphere! What a shock. Also with 3 suns it's only just a little hotter than Earth in summer, how convenient! I'd think that 3 suns might make for some interesting plot twists about the crew fighting over the shady spot, but sadly nothing that interesting occurs in the film. At one point the survivors come across a vast field of bones, presumably from the herds of animals that once roamed this planet with 3 suns and no water. Exactly how vast herds of giant herbivores would evolve in a desert is not as interesting to the crew as how the skeletons are all lined up, as if they died at the same time standing up. Foreshadowing, what a concept! The high school English teacher of the movies writer must be so proud. Later on we find out that there is a whole species of underground carnivores who are just waiting for the lights to go out so they can feast upon the multitude of juicy humans who crash land on their nasty little planet every so often. Oh yes, I can see how 6 or 7 dehydrated humans every few years could sustain a huge group of meat eating, shade loving monsters for years to come. Humans would have to be pretty filling for that to be true, especially when you consider that these voracious creatures have seemingly eaten all other life on the planet. Wouldn't they have eaten themselves into extinction? Apparently not. The monsters are also afraid of light, or are harmed by it or something, the bottom line is they just don't like light ok? So our humans are safe as long as there is a lot of light, and in a 3-sun solar system that doesn't seem to be a problem.
But luckily for us the crash happens just hours before a once-every-22-year eclipse that the beasties have been waiting for so they can get out of their shady holes and eat all the starving, dehydrated, hapless, defenseless humans that have crash landed on their dusty little planet. This eclipse does not cover just one sun, or even 2 suns. Astoundingly it covers a remarkable 3 suns, go figure. That coincidence is not as great as them crashing only a few yards from an abandoned mining camp, where they learn all about the impending eclipse from a home made model of the solar system made by the previous owners of the camp. The miners were also in the process of leaving the camp in a spaceship they had, but didn't quite make it. These people had a spaceship, A Spaceship! And they had to build a little mock solar system out of foam balls and coat hangers? Isn't this supposed to be the future, couldn't they have figured out the alignment of the planets from the computer on their.. Spaceship??? Did I mention they had a spaceship? If I had a spaceship I don't think I'd go be a miner on some weird planet with no water and lots of monsters. I'd keep looking till I found a planet with lots of water, and no monsters. Then I'd relax and get a job making web pages, or their future equivalent. This is supposed to be the future right?
So the crew is then eaten one by one in various gory but uninteresting ways, and since the characters are so profoundly un-heroic and uninteresting, we really don't care. In fact we want them to get eaten so we can see the creatures do their thing some more. At one point you start rooting for the monsters so you can hear the gory body breaking noises.
Here comes another criticism of Hollywood, can't they think of something more frightening than being eaten? People just aren't as scared of being chewed on as they were back in the 70's when Jaws came out, and they have been getting gradually less and less terrified of it for the last 30 years. I personally am not very worried about being swallowed whole or ripped apart by a huge beast in my every day life. Maybe if I was a Lion tamer or a Crocodile wrangler this movie might scare the pants off me! But as I am a graphic designer by trade I'd be much more scared of a movie about computers that come to life and start making artistic designs on their own, putting me out of work. Well its more likely than anything that happens in Pitch Black.
How could this movie have been made better?
I'm glad you asked. Well for starter lets stop making the bad guy in movies look like a wrestler. I know wrestling is very popular right now and all that, but in reality no one looks like these people. And people who look like the bad guy in this movie are generally speaking not very tough, they just work out with weights a lot. The toughest people I have even seen are bikers, and if you have seen what they look like you know they don't spend too much time in a gym. Or conversely you could make him look like a totally normal person, that way when he does turn out to be an exceptionally talented murder the audience would be forced to say, "Gee, he looks like a totally normal person. How could he be such an exceptionally talented murderer?"
Too much foreshadowing!
They spent so much time at the beginning of the movie trying to make the planet look scary that by the time the scary stuff happened, it wasn't a surprise. It would have been better if there were hints of something bad that had happened in the past, but making it obvious that something bad had occurred made it very anti-climactic when it all came down. I would have liked to see the ecosystem in some state of recovery from the last time there was an eclipse. That would have given the nasty critters something else to do besides harass our hapless crash victims, they could have chased around the other animals and wreaked a little havoc on the environment rather than just play chase the humans. That might have made the creatures seem more real rather than just 2 dimensional hapless human harassers. Also, I think the creatures should have been in hibernation waiting for the next eclipse, rather than skittering around in the tunnels. How would they find
enough food between eclipses with all the animals that did live on the surface being dead and all?
Live humans are more interesting than dead ones.
For example the people from the mining camp would have been more interesting if they were alive, like walking around and doing stuff. Maybe they would have seen the crash and gone out to rescue any survivors, now that sounds like something live humans would do. This would have been better than the cliché of "we crash landed only feet or inches from a settlement, lucky us."
We crash-landed, we have no way home.sob, sob.
This is such a tired premise, especially when 30 minutes into the film they do find a way to get home and it becomes a plot device. (i.e. we have to drag the power cells from the crashed ship to the new ship, etc. etc. etc.) Come on! Make it a scientific mission that's there to study the eclipse or something, that would have defused the cliché of "Hey cool, we arrived here just in the nick of time to witness a once in a thousand year cosmic event".
How are the Special Effects?
I have no idea, I couldn't see them. Basically the plot revolves around the fact that these nasty critters only come out when its pitch black... need I say more? Literally there is not one shot of a full monster in the light, so all you ever see is them in silhouette.
In closing I'll just say this, its not a scary or entertaining movie but if you can get into a matinee for $3.00 I say go for it. You'll have fun at least trying to comprehend how anyone as stupid as the people in this movie ever learned how to fly spaceships in the first place.
Review by Lobo69 from the Internet Movie Database.