Pitch Black – Unrated Director’s Cut (HD-DVD)
B Sound: B Extras: C+ Film: C+
Pictures only lasted a few years, but with a few films like David Fincher’s The Game, Robert Altman’s grossly
mishandled The Gingerbread Man and the
Robin Williams vehicle What Dreams May
Come, they were very ambitious. The
now-defunct record label had Gramercy Pictures with Universal until Universal
bought them out. Some films had not been
released, and one they had high hopes for was David Twohy’s Pitch Black, eventually issued in 2000.
is about a crew that crash-lands their spaceship on a planet that is loaded
with nocturnal alien monsters that kill.
The title refers to what it is like when the sun goes down. Against their better judgment, they decide to
release the crazed killer known as Riddick (Vin Diesel, in a star-making role
that almost did not make it to the screen) to help them fight the
creatures. Even then, they looked fake,
but now it is a bit worse. However, the
screenplay by Jim & Ken Wheat with Twohy was not centered on Riddick and
that is why the film works when it does.
Diesel’s reserved performance helps too.
Keith, Radha Mitchell (underrated in Joel Schumacher’s Phone Booth) and on-the-rise star Cole Hauser make for a compelling
cast and this longer cut is a bit better than the theatrical cut if not overly
so. It also shows that a relatively
lower-budget film in the Horror and Science Fiction can work today and shows up
many films (including the first follow-up) as the overproduced fiascos they
are. Pitch Black may not be a great film in either genre, but it is
competent and that is why it is an early HD-DVD release that is one of the
better ones by default.
digital High Definition image is better than the previous DVD, but still has
some detail limits and issues with the image being too dark in parts. Cinematographer David Eggby, A.C.S., shot the
original Mad Max (1979) and returned
to the same location for this film. To
make it look different, He and Twohy decided to exaggerate monochrome colors
for the alien planet and also fooled with other locations. Annoying in its time, we have now seen much
worse thanks to digital, but this aspect of the film has not aged well and
seems overdone. Except for a 35mm film
print, you are not likely to get better reproduction than here.
was Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, as well as DTS 5.1 and SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital
Sound) 5.1 theatrically and the film has even been issued in DTS DVDs overseas,
but DTS supporter Universal decided to only make a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix
available on this HD-DVD and that is a shame since some of their HD-DVD have
had DTS. The Dolby here is not credited
as EX, but plays back that way just fine.
Though not a masterwork of sound design, the mix has its moments and
Graeme Revell’s score is not bad. It is
one of his better scores and he would return for The Chronicles Of Riddick, reviewed on HD-DVD elsewhere on this
are many, including Twohy introduction, seven featurettes about this film that
spill over into the whole Riddick franchise and two audio commentaries that
both have Twohy participating. Diesel
and Cole Hauser join him on one, while the producer Tom Engelman and visual
effects supervisor Peter Chiang join him on the other. Because this is the more interesting of the
two films so far, this can be entertaining.
It left this critic asking what went wrong later. Though not the most spectacular HD-DVD in the
market, it is one of the better early ones, so enjoy Pitch Black for what does work.
- Nicholas Sheffo