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Pitch Black (2000)
Director: David N. Twohy
review by Tony Lee
"You're not afraid of the dark, are you?" With a story from Jim and Ken Wheat, the men behind After Midnight, and direction by David Twohy, the maker of Timescape (aka: 'Disaster In Time'), Pitch Black is a classy monster movie with excellent production values lifting a Z-grade plot from horror hell to sci-fi heaven.
Only a handful of the crew and passengers (one of whom is a murderous convict) from a damaged starship survive its crash landing on a mysterious planet, where three different suns mean there's always daylight of one colour or another. Pilot Radha Mitchell (this year's SF action babe) becomes the nominal leader of the group that includes Keith David (who first appeared in John Carpenter's The Thing), and Claudia Black (the only reason to watch TV's Farscape), but the main player here is Vin Diesel, as the untrustworthy criminal they all have to trust with their lives.
Even before the survivors' uncertain situation turns dangerous, there are some minor scrapes at a strangely abandoned colonial town in the merciless heat of the unwelcoming desert world. Clever lighting set-ups, and technical treatment of the film stock during processing, mean an eerie atmosphere prevails on the rugged surface (Mad Max's Australian locations are revisited), while taut pacing results in many suspenseful scenes during the climactic total eclipse. The creatures of Pitch Black may sound like the Clangers, but they are ferocious predators - like a vast horde of giant flying scorpions, making this space adventure one of the very best generic clones of Aliens yet.
previously published online, VideoVista #21 - December 2000
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