This terrific little sci-fi flick follows a group of space explorers that (rather spectacularly) crash-land on a distant planet inhabited only by deadly nocturnal creatures. Luckily, one of the survivors is Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel), a mysterious (and extremely dangerous) prisoner who happens to be able to see in the dark. Pitch Black is an intense and clever thrill ride with lots of neat-o flourishes and surprises that go a long way in making you forget just how derivative the whole premise is, with Diesel obviously enjoying playing such a charismatic badass. However, it’s the premise and execution of the film itself and not so much the character of Riddick that audiences seemed to dig, despite Diesel and director David Twohy’s somewhat inexplicable insistence that the hulking prisoner was going to single-handedly kick-start a new sci-fi franchise (the 2004 follow-up, The Chronicles of Riddick, was a bloated, embarrassing vanity project). Cole Hauser is fun as Johns, the creepy “merc” who captured Riddick, and Radha Mitchell provides the obligatory Ripley-esque tough-girl act (and several somewhat distracting belly button shots).
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