What movie was that...?

09 March 2011

Pitch Black

directed by David Twohy

It’s equal parts monster horror and pulp science fiction, courtesy of screenwriters Jim and Ken Wheat, and brought to slick, trashy, magnificent life by director David Twohy. This is a professional high water mark for all involved, including Vin Diesel, who makes a lot of promises in this role that his acting career did not keep. Sure, there was the mediocre but enjoyable XXX, and Knockaround Guys, but then there was The Pacifier, and the cinematic floater, The Chronicles of Riddick. But before all that, Diesel was a shit talking, ass kicking, glowy-eyed fugitive aboard a transport that crashes on a planet with multiple suns. His captor is Johns, played to smarmy perfection by Cole Hauser (making big daddy Wings Hauser all kinds of proud, I’m sure), a bounty hunter with a bit of a drug habit and an axe to grind. Radha Mitchell is great as Fry, who comes to realize that survival sometimes means forging unlikely alliances. John Carpenter even took a page out of the Pitch Black script when he gave us another sci fi horror B film gem, Ghosts of Mars, the following year (if you are familiar with both of these films, then you know what I am talking about). Cinematographer David Eggby (the genius behind Mad Max’s visual flare) saturates the multi-sunned landscape until you feel like you need sunglasses. The script has just the right amount of hard boiled, Law & Order style dialogue mixed in with a bit of Carpenter reverence and go for it gusto that makes a work like this stand out. Is it Citizen Cane? Of course not. It’s not even Daybreakers, but it’s still fun as hell. And you know what? We all need films like this: films that give the artist in all of us the courage to think “I could have written that.” I have said this before, but it bears repeating: It can’t all be T.S, Eliot poetry, and I for one am thankful for that. The world needs films like Ghosts of Mars and Pitch Black just as much as it needs the Magnoliasand Two-Lane Blacktops of the world.   

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