A Look Into The First Installment Of The Sci-fi Thriller Riddick Series
By Guillermo Rosario
Released in 2000, Pitch Black is a Sci-fi Thriller set in a dystopian space future similar in style to Ridley Scott’s Alien with the galaxy-sized atmosphere of Star Wars. The film is the first installment of the Chronicles of Riddick series and introduced the titular character as the main protagonist. The series had few installments, but Pitch Black is praised for not shying away from Riddick’s nature as a brutal anti-hero when dealing with ruthless bounty hunters and voracious alien predators.
Setting of Pitch Black
The setting of Pitch Black is an atypical space-faring dystopia. From hostile bounty hunters and dangerous planet creatures. It’s set up similarly to Star Wars, where there’s a lot of stuff going on in the galaxy, but for the sake of the film, there is a sole focus on the characters, from a pilot of the ship to a bounty hunter, a few survivors of the crashed ship and Riddick whose detained and forced to help them.
During the film, the ship carrying Riddick and several other passengers crash-landed on a desert planet. The survivors spent some time investigating a new ship while securing Riddick. Soon they found one but discovered that the planet suffers 22 years of perpetual sunlight, and for one month, an eclipse occurs, bringing complete darkness. Soon after the eclipse, a swarm of monstrous predators flies out of the dark depths of the planet in search of food, and now the survivors must find a way to escape with the help of the most dangerous man in the galaxy.
Introducing The Gritty World Of Riddick
The world of the Riddick films is full of criminals, religious zealots, warring empires, and savage beasts. In a galaxy where survival is a bad day away from landing on the wrong planet, Riddick himself stands as a pivotal protagonist. His neutral stance on the world makes it easier to view his perspective of other characters and the situations he finds himself. There are characters in the films that seem to challenge his morality or hold themself on better ground, only for him to triumph.
In many ways, this makes Riddick similar to characters like Conan the Barbarian or a darker version of Han Solo. A chivalrous criminal with a neutral stance on life, death, good and evil. In the sequels and expanded media, his positive traits become more pronounced. At the very least, antagonists or creatures will be introduced, which makes him the lesser of two evils in the situation.
Fear What Prowls In The Dark
Riddick’s conflict with the bounty hunter Johns, portrayed by Cole Hauser, and ship pilot Carolyn Fry, played by Radha Mitchell, created the idea that Riddick himself was the most dangerous thing on the planet. Then the eclipse happened. Suddenly, the dynamics of the characters changed. Even before it happened, there are hints of what happened on the planet that set up the tension in the beginning. From the skeletal remains of large creatures to an abandoned outpost whose people are all gone. It’s discovered that a vicious species of predators inhabit the darkness.
When the eclipse occurs, these creatures, known as Bioraptors, take center stage as the primary threat. There are two types of Bioraptors, small ones that swarm in piranha-like packs and large ones that hunt for themselves and track their prey through echolocation and the smell of blood. Their overall design is a mixture of Jurassic Park’s raptors and the Xenomorphs from Alien with elongated hammerheads and spears that erupt from their clawed legs. Their constant presence in the darkness feeds the danger and tension throughout the remainder of the film.
Start Of A Fascinating Adventure
Pitch Black is an enthralling sci-fi thriller with hints of horror and suspense. The movie introduced an interesting concept and brings a unique “hero” to life. The tension and scares by the monsters in perpetual darkness make the film a thrilling watch and worth a recommendation. Vin Diesel’s portrayal of Riddick also pushed the popularity of the character with two sequels released, The Chronicles of Riddick and Riddick. All three of these films can be streamed on Netflix.
Pitch Black (2000) Official Universal Trailer