Pitch Black, Blu-ray (2000) – Unrated Director’s Cut

by | Mar 20, 2009 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Pitch Black, Blu-ray (2000) – Unrated Director’s Cut

Starring: Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell
Director: David Twohy
Studio: Fox 1106555 [Release date: Mar. 31, 09]
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 color, 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; (Theatrical only: English/Spanish, French DTS 5.1), Extras: DD 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Extras: Introduction by David Twohy, The Game Is On, Johns’ Chase Log, The Making of Pitch Black, Dark Fury: Advancing the Arc, Visual Encyclopedia teaser for The Chronicles of Riddick, A View Into the Dark, Commentary tracks by cast and crew, Pitch Black Raw – explore special effects, Picture-in-Picture, BD Live
Length: 1 hr. 52 min.; theatrical: 1 hr. 49 min.
Rating: *****

The subtitle to this is listed as The Chronicles of Riddick; this is NOT The Chronicles of Riddick – that is the sorta sequel which uses the same Vin Diesel character but is otherwise a different story. In between this and that comes a half-hour animation special called Dark Fury, which fills in some of the story between the two films. The only way to access that one is as part of the Riddick Trilogy, so far available only in a standard DVD package.

This is, by the director’s own admission in the Making Of featurette, a low-budget ($20 million) flick shot in the outlands of Australia in only 60 days, with no plans for a sequel. The story owes quite a bit to the first Alien feature (a mix of horror and sci-fi), but may surprise viewers by providing a most enjoyable and engrossing couple hours – especially in this beautifully transferred, with cleverly immersive surround sound, Blu-ray version. The plot may be a rehash, but Vin Diesel does a fine job fleshing out his dangerous-killer-muscleman character as it develops.

A spaceship carrying 40 passengers, including a dope-addicted mercenary  who is escorting the killer Riddick to a new prison planet, crashes unexpectedly on a strange desert planet. The crash in the director’s version may be the most realistic and drawn-out spaceship crash landing in any sci-fi film.  Riddick quickly frees himself of his captor and is regarded at a distance with fear from all the survivors. A completely abandoned settlement is discovered, along with needed water.  In it is a working model of the nearby planets which shows that every 22 years there is a complete eclipse of the planet’s three suns, and the next day is when that happens again.

This wouldn’t be so disturbing if it weren’t for the fact that hordes of razor-clawed beasts live in the dark underground and come out at night to feed.  After a couple of the group succumb to them, Riddick tells the survivors they are wrong to fear him – it is the beasts of the darkness they should fear. He guides them thru survival and firing up the engines of an abandoned spaceship they have found, but naturally the body count mounts up in the process.

Twohy uses a tasteful approach in showing little of the awful creatures until very near the end of the film – depending on the power of suggestion instead – as did the classic horror movies. There is even a bit of humor in Riddick discovering the creatures have a blind spot right in front of them and doing a little dance with one nose to nose. There may be only four minutes more footage in the Director’s Cut, but I found this version 100% more logical in sequencing and more involving thruout than the earlier theatrical DVD version.

 – John Sunier