tek's rating: ¾

Pitch Black (R / unrated)
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This came out in 2000, and I'm fairly sure I saw it sometime early that decade, possibly on TV. It would later spawn a franchise collectively known as "The Chronicles of Riddick," which was also the title of the first sequel, and retroactively became part of the title of this movie, though I still just think of it by its original title. Anyway, I got a set of the whole series on DVD, and watched the first movie in 2018. By then I didn't really remember anything about it from the first time I saw it. (And I hadn't seen any of the sequels, but I'll get to them soon.)

So... there's this spaceship with a small crew and 40 passengers, all in cryostasis. One of the passengers, Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel), is actually an escaped murderer who had been caught by a mercenary named William Johns (Cole Hauser), who is taking him back to a penal colony (called a "slam") to collect a bounty. The other passengers are all going to different planets for different reasons. But before the ship gets to any of its stops, something hits it, little meteors or comet debris or whatever, and does some damage, which causes the crew to wake up early. Unfortunately, the captain is hit in his cryo-pod by one of the whatevers that hit the ship, killing him instantly. The docking pilot, Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell), does her best to land the ship safely on a nearby planet, but it ends up crash landing, with most of the passengers dying. Those that survive include Riddick, Johns, a few Muslims (including one played by Keith David) who are on a pilgrimage, a settler played by Claudia Black, and... a few other people. Fry and the surviving passengers have to try to find a way to survive until they can get off the desert planet, which turns out to have three suns. So they're not expecting night to come anytime soon. Meanwhile, Riddick escapes, and Johns goes to look for him, along with Fry and some others, while a couple of passengers stay at what remains of the ship. One of those passengers ends up disappearing, and when they find Riddick, they suspect that he had killed the guy. However, it turns out to be scary, cave-dwelling CGI creatures that killed him.

The survivors soon realize the creatures avoid the sunlight, but they also soon figure out that there's a planetary eclipse coming up, which will leave them in darkness. They also find an abandoned mining colony, where the miners had apparently all been killed by the creatures. They had a drop ship, which is out of power, but the crash survivors would be able to power it with fuel cells from their own ship, if they can get them to the drop ship before dark. Which, as it turns out, they can't. So, most of the movie's scariness happens when the planet is, you know, pitch black. They have very few light sources to keep the creatures away. But at some point in the past, Riddick had had some kind of operation done to his eyes that made him unable to see in regular light (at least not without goggles that block most of the light, I guess). But his eyes have like an infrared ability or whatever, to see in the dark. Anyway, Fry decides that Riddick should lead them back to the drop ship, in the dark, with the creatures basically all around them all the time.

And that's all I want to say about the plot. But it was a reasonably good movie.

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Pitch Black * Dark Fury * The Chronicles of Riddick * Riddick