On this day in film history, sixteen long years ago, the world was introduced to Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) in the sleeper hit Pitch Black.
Riddick is introduced as a dangerous criminal with illegally modified eyes that allow him to see perfectly in the dark (but “normal” light blinds him, so he has to wear dark goggles in daylight). He and a number of passengers are in cryostasis onboard the spaceship Hunter-Gratzner when the ship is punctured by debris from a comet, forcing the ship to crash land on a desert planet lit by three (yes, i said three) suns, which are arranged in such a way that night never falls on the planet (not yet anyway, we’ll get to that in a little while).
With the captain dead, Riddick missing, and very few supplies available, the survivors need to find a way off the planet. Luckily, they discover an abandoned geological survey settlement not too far away, and among the ruins lies a beat up drop-ship, capable of getting them into space, but not much more than that. While the focus now comes to repairing the ship and getting enough power modules to make it run, Riddick reappears and a truce is struck: they’ll all work together to get off the planet, cause if they don’t they’re likely all going to die.
Meanwhile, something weird has been going on. One survivor (who was burying the deceased), is snatched by something unseen. Riddick is initially accused of being the murderer, but this is none of his doing. It turns out the entire planet is populated by terrifying creatures that can only come out at nighttime. But with three suns, the planet never has night…right? Well…actually, it turns out that once every two decades, the other planets line up in such a way that total night covers the planet (how long this lasts is never specified), and it just so happens that the ship crash landed not long before the next eclipse is due. To make a long story short, our survivors fail to take the power capsules back to the ship in time and the dark planet is soon swarming with bloodthirsty creatures.
In typical fashion, most of the survivors die horrible, gruesome deaths. Soon, Riddick, the Imam, Jack (a girl pretending to be a boy), and Carolyn Fry (the pilot), are the only ones left. After nearly abandoning the others, Riddick is persuaded by Fry to return and get the others back to the ship, but Fry is lost in the process. Riddick, Jack (real name Kira) and the Imam safely make it off the planet, and agree to tell anyone who asks that Riddick is dead.
I’d already seen The Chronicles of Riddick several times, but Pitch Black was new to me. I was completely terrified once the eclipse began. My worst nightmare would be a scenario where I was only feet away from bloodthirsty aliens that would tear me apart the first chance they got.
Pitch Black is important because this was Vin Diesel’s breakthrough role as a lead actor (The Fast and the Furious didn’t come out until 2001). I can’t believe this movie is sixteen years old already.
On a quick sidenote, the music (such as it was), was composed by Graeme Revell, who has composed the score to every film in the Riddick series. Overall it was an enjoyable movie (but I will never watch it at night again *shudders) -Bex
*all images are the property of the film studio
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