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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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Docking pilot Fry (Radha Mitchell) makes a forced crash-landing of her spacecraft on a distant planet. Lawman Johns (Cole Hauser) is unharmed, but so is his prisoner, convicted murderer Riddick (Vin Diesel). As the survivors explore the planet with three suns, they must overcome their differences to survive. But as the suns set and the planet plunges into total darkness, other inhabitants emerge.

"Strong new ideas and well developed characters drive this energetic and unpredictable sci fi action drama, with the unexpected casting a bonus. Radha Mitchell? John Moore? But these two Australian actors are not the only ones contributing (and doing it very well) to the film: cinematography, production and costume design, music and creature creation all emanate from Australians, as do some of the Coober Pedy locations that serve for an alien planet with three suns - and one bitch of a pitch black eclipse that is central to the film's plot. Vin Diesel makes a terrific baddie- cum- saviour- cum- baddie- again, and Radha Mitchell's Fry, as the central character usually played by someone like Cole Hauser (who plays another baddie but in good guy's clobber) is one of the many surprising elements in Pitch Black. Mitchell shows her amazing range as the feisty heroine, whose American accent misled director David Twohy into thinking she was American. Although filled with tension, drama, sci-fi settings and terrifying creatures, Pitch Black engages with its human elements. It also has a terrific, upbeat soundtrack, and the colour filters used to create inter-planetary lighting effects are well used. Pitch Black is really well made escapism, with an ending that may surprise you (for a studio picture)."
Andrew L. Urban

"Filled with surreal effects and pulsating action, sci-fi creature feature Pitch Black is enthralling escapism that explodes with flair. Shot partly on location in stark, desolate Coober Pedy, the film's look is wild and untamed with a stylised bleached blown-out process specially developed by cinematographer David Eggby plus the blues and golds from coloured lensing. It's visceral entertainment; the sound is superb, and Graeme Revell's soundtrack provokes, jars and simply soars. Colours and textures impress, while the realisation of the creatures themselves is left much to our fertile imaginations. But there are more than impressive visuals to enjoy. Vin Diesel, flaunting plenty of muscle and hypnotic intensity fills the screen with charisma, while Radha Mitchell impacts with good presence and strength, and looks great all the while. Unpredictable, interesting characters display our human flaws, while the twists and surprises come at cyclone speed throughout. The seed of fear begins with what you cannot see, but can only imagine; these are prisoners of darkness whose psychological fears jump like flames in a fire. A perfect Saturday afternoon B movie, Pitch Black is impressively different an eerie, compelling adventure that springboards us into a dark world of mystery, uncertainty and danger."
Louise Keller

"Recently Australia has become the location of choice for Hollywood sci-fi epics - perhaps because, from a Western perspective, our landscape still seems deeply alien and unknowable (as in everything from Picnic At Hanging Rock to The Thin Red Line). Pitch Black, which takes place on a bare, dusty alien planet, was actually shot in the desert somewhere outside Coober Pedy. A large number of crew and cast are Australian - including Radha Mitchell, doing an American accent - and as a hybrid, this genre exercise has a certain non-Hollywood edge. The Alien series is the established benchmark here, but writer-director David Twohy takes the conventions of the format (the marooned crew, the tough, 'androgynous' heroine) and extends them slightly beyond our expectations. (How many Hollywood films feature Muslims in key sympathetic roles?) Ultimately, of course, Pitch Black stands or falls on its ability to deliver suspense and physical thrills. Personally, I found it highly effective, 'stylish' but not mindlessly so. Like the recent Light It Up - another intelligent genre movie with a slick, pumped-up surface - Pitch Black uses the opposition between light and darkness as a key structuring principle both visually and in plot terms (as both titles indicate). The flashy bleached-out style of the film's first section (as in Three Kings) is partly justified as a simulation of 'alien' light; later, when night comes, so do the monsters. Oddly, these creatures themselves - which owe something to the velociraptors in Jurassic Park - are the least interesting part of the whole package. The real question is whether the human characters, too, are going to tear each other apart. I won't give away the ending, but rest assured that, despite all the swearing and violence, this is a moral tale right to the end."
Jake Wilson

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CAST: Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Keith David, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Claudia Black

DIRECTOR: David Twohy

PRODUCER: Tom Engleman

SCRIPT: Jim & Ken Wheat & David Twohy (Story by Jim & Ken Wheat)


EDITOR: Rick Shaine

MUSIC: Graeme Revell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Graham "Grace" Walker

RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: United International Pictures


VIDEO RELEASE: November 8, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures Video

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