Kamis, 17 September 2009

Great Action Movies - 'Pitch Black'

Written by: Jim Wheat & Ken Wheat and David Twohy
Directed by: David Twohy

'Pitch Black' is an underrated sci-fi film that most people are only aware of because of its sequel 'The Chronicles of Riddick', which saw reasonable success at the box office. But of the two, 'Pitch Black' is light years better, was made on a fraction of the budget ($20m) and without Dame Judi Dench.

As with most great movies, there is a blending of genres - sci-fi, horror, survival and action. 'Pitch Black' sees a transport ship crash land on a baron planet, leaving the few remaining crew and passengers stranded. Amongst the eclectic group of survivors is Richard B. Riddick - escaped convict, murderer. He is accompanied by Johns, a mercenary transporting Riddick to a high-security facility.

As the ship's crew begin to gather supplies and search for a way of the planet, Riddick is bound in chains. But it's not long before he escapes and is mistakenly blamed for the death of a passenger. It soon becomes clear that Riddick isn't the only thing to fear on this planet - a species of night-dwelling monsters are killing off the characters.

We see a subverted but very clear hero's journey. Riddick is a solitary survivor who only looks after number one, but as things develop, it becomes clear that the only way off this planet is through teamwork. Trusted by the crew, Riddick is put to work.

The film is littered with great subplots. It's revealed that Acting Captain Fry wanted to dump the entire passenger bay on crashing, to save her own - proving Riddick's point that people only look after number one. She undergoes a powerful story, bringing the survivors through the ordeal and being faced with a decision in the film's climax - does she leave the planet when she has chance, or go back for those left behind? This ties in directly with Riddick's own story of survival and dependence on others.

The planet's monsters can only see at night and so can Riddick, due to a surgical 'shine job'. This only adds to Riddick's cool as a tough, honest survivor. Add a holy man to highlight the desperation of the situation and a morally ambiguous merc in the form of Johns, and you have yourself a sci-fi classic, far beyond most space adventures in the last few decades.


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