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4K Ultra HD Review: Pitch Black (2000)

A space freighter gets damaged to fuck and back by some rogue comets and makes an emergency landing on a barren alien world, killing all but nine of the crew. Speaking of survivors, one such individual is bad-ass convict Riddick (Vin Diesel), who is now on the loose.

As if that unpredictable psycho wasn’t enough, the planet is also home to a vicious lil’ gaggle of toothy creatures that come out once every 28 years during an eclipse… and the time for that cosmic spectacle is nigh! Now can Riddick be counted on to add to the survival rate of these hapless cosmic castaways?

Pitch Black is an unbelievably entertaining sci-fi/action creature feature, and one of the reasons for it’s success is that co-writer/director David Twohy, who was also responsible for this film’s sequels; The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), and Riddick (2013), keeps things nice n’ simple as far as the basics go; this is a straight up cat n’ mouse affair… but the characters are very well-rounded and you actually give two shits whether they live or die.

Speaking of characters, obviously Diesel’s Riddick is the star of the show, even though in this flick he’s a mere supporting player. His charisma and tough-ass bravado was just too good not to shine brighter than anything else around him… though with a supporting cast featuring Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill), Claudia Black (TV’s Farscape), and Keith David (John Carpenter’s The Thing and They Live) the competition is certainly fierce.

Also of note is the innovative, truly alien looking creatures that give our heroes so much fuckin’ static. These things are unique, believably menacing, and completely out-of-control. So a beastly bravo there!

Speaking of “special” things, this 4K Ultra release from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment is absolutely jam-ass packed with special features! First up we get two archival audio commentaries, one with Twohy, Diesel, and actor Cole Hauser, the other with Twohy, producer Tom Engelman, and visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang, that cover the film’s production in detail.

Following that we get a series of newly filmed interviews featuring Twohy, actor Rhiana Griffith, Black, cinematographer David Eggby, Peter Chiang, and composer Graeme Revell, as well as a brief behind-the-scenes featurette, a comparison between early CG test and the final footage, and lil’ bit more behind-the-scenes making of footage.

We aren’t done yet, as we also are presented with a series of archival bonus features, including an introduction by Twohy, A View Into The Dark, and Chronicles of Riddick Visual Encyclopedia, as well as Johns Chase Log, a short prequel narrated by Hauser detailing his character’s hunt for Riddick, the animated companion piece to the film, The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (created by Aeon Flux’s Peter Chung)… which also has it’s own bonus features that illustrate how the film was created, as well as providing a pre-animation test version of the film.

Bringing up the rear we get a motion comic, a TV special offering an alternate glimpse into what happened before and after the events of the film, Raveworld: Pitch Black Event footage, trailers for the film (along with those for the sequels and video game as well), and image galleries.

All of this comes under a sleeve featuring artwork by Luke Preece, and with a booklet featuring writing by Simon Ward on the film’s creature designs, a selection of original production notes, and an archival interview with Vin Diesel (courtesy of Starlog magazine).

Pitch Black remains one hell of a sci-fi fright flick; filled to the brim with action, monsters, and a superb cast, and it has never looked better than on this 4K Ultra HD release!

 

 

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