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Pitch Black Reviews

Though highly derivative of ALIEN, this handsomely photographed, briskly directed sci-fi fright picture is enjoyable enough on its own limited terms. Sometime in the future, a commercial transport ship is badly damaged as it cruises through deep space. The crew must make a crash landing on a desolate desert planet, and most of the passengers and crew members are killed. Docking pilot Fry (Rahda Mitchell) survives, and reluctantly accepts that as the senior — make that the only — member of the crew to have survived, she's in charge. The stranded passengers include youthful runaway Jack (Rhiana Griffith); no-nonsense geologist Shazza (Claudia Black); effete antique dealer Paris (Lewis Fitz-Gerald); a muslim Imam (Keith David) shepherding three young religious pilgrims; interstellar bounty hunter Johns (Cole Hauser, the image of his father, Wings Hauser); and last but not least, Johns's prisoner, Riddick (Vin Diesel), a psychopath who recently busted out of jail by hijacking a transport ship and killing everyone on board. The first order of business is finding water and some way off the godforsaken planet. But it quickly becomes apparent that however barren the desert surface may appear, there's life somewhere, and it's not friendly. Worse, there's an eclipse on the way, and the hostile extraterrestrials come into their own in the dark... Screenwriting brothers Ken and Jim Wheat know their genre conventions (their credits, singly and together, are heavy on horror/thriller titles); perhaps they know them a little too well. Director David Twohy keeps the action moving, despite the disconcerting "haven't I seen this before?" feel of many scenes; even the otherworldly Coober Pedy, Australia, locations will be familiar to MAD MAX fans. The monsters are handsomely designed but have the insubstantial look that still plagues computer-generated images.