ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 4, 2000
At one point in writer-director David Twohy’s gory sci-fi/horror flick Pitch Black, futuristic lawman Johns (Cole Hauser) states: “My life is a steaming, meaningless pile of shit.” Now, I probably wouldn’t even have remembered that prime example of Twohy’s screenwriting prowess if it hadn’t been so consistent with my own opinion of the movie at the time. Pitch Black is such a stinker that it makes Twohy’s previous sci-fi thriller, The Arrival, look halfway decent.
And the best thing about that flick was the charisma of Charlie Sheen.
Pitch Black is about a disparate group of men, women, and children whose spaceship crash-lands on some desertlike planet in the not-too-distant future. The crowd includes tough-talking docking pilot Fry (High Art’s Radha Mitchell, in the buffed Sigourney Weaver role from Alien), musclebound, pissed-off convict Riddick (Vin Diesel), and a whole slew of obvious victims-to-be, including self-interested antique dealer Paris (Breaker Morant’s Lewis Fitz-Gerald) and steadfast Muslim cleric Imam (Keith David), who brings three young pilgrims with him to the slaughter.
And what a slaughter it is! Once you get past the part about the crash survivors roaming the sun-scorched planet (really Australia), searching for the escaped Riddick and seeing who can say “fuck” the most, there’s a good hour or so of watching pterodactyl-type creatures with yard-wide jaws rip everybody apart.
Okay, not quite everybody. But, in a new low for this subgenre of “spacebound humans as fodder” flicks, most of the innocent kids get it, as well as the deserving grownups. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys seeing youngsters get attacked by swarms of flying beasties that are born to rip and tear, then this movie is for you.
Not only is Pitch Black a no-brainer, it’s a no-souler as well.