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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Pitch Black (Widescreen Unrated Director's Cut)
Pitch Black (Widescreen Unrated Director's Cut)
Universal // R // June 1, 2004
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Shannon Nutt | posted June 12, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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THE MOVIE

Universal has jazzed up the box cover, now slapping "The Chronicles of Riddick" on the cover to tie this release in with the sequel, but the contents of the new Pitch Black DVD remain pretty much the same, with a few new additions and a few notable deletions as well.

The movie could have easily been another Alien rip-off, but thanks to director and co-writer David Twohy, Pitch Black turns out to be a pretty good – if not outstanding – rollercoaster ride. The film begins on a transport ship where the passengers are deep within cryo-sleep. The ship winds up in the path of a rouge comet (or something – we never really find out) and the damage causes the passengers to be awakened and results in the crash on a desolate world with three suns – which means constant daylight.

Among the transport crew is prisoner Richard Riddick (Vin Diesel), a known murderer who was being transferred by mercenary William Johns (Cole Hauser). Riddick wears goggles to protect his eyes, since when he was in prison he had his eyes "polished" in order to be able to see in the dark, should anyone try to sneak up on him.

Shortly after the crash landing, Riddick escapes…and when people start turning up dead, Riddick is the prime suspect. The crew – which is led by Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell), and includes a Muslim priest (played by Keith David) – soon discovers however that there are alien creatures living underground that are causing the deaths.

The crew also figures out that the alien creatures are afraid of light, so they feel quite safe on the planet's surface…that is, until they find out that an eclipse is about to happen that will plunge the planet into total darkness and free the creatures from their underground hiding place to wreak havoc on them and the rest of the planet.

Using Riddick's visual skills – and a bit of luck – the crew is determined to get to a transport ship before the aliens can get to them.

THE DVD
Video:
The film is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen anamorphic, and is the exact same transfer that was on the previous Widescreen Unrated release of Pitch Black. The overall picture is fairly good, but given the different bright tints used during the daylight scenes on the planet, a bit of dirt and grain from the print is evident from time to time. Still, this is a fairly nice transfer…just not a new one.

Audio:
The same audio options exist on this version that were on the initial release: 5.1 Dolby and 5.1 DTS. Both sound fantastic, but the DTS track really blows you away, giving you the feeling as if you are in the middle of the action – particularly during the crash landing at the outset of the movie. There's also English closed captioning, plus the choice between Spanish or French subtitles.

Extras:
The extras provide an interesting mix, since there's some new stuff, some old stuff and some stuff from the first release that didn't make it to this new version. Here's a breakdown:

What's New:
New to this disc are an Introduction by David Twohy, in which the director explains a little about the upcoming sequel and what to expect. Also new is The Game Is On, a sneak peak of the upcoming video game Escape From Butcher Bay.

Two new items that are made up of video graphics along with audio dialogue from Pitch Black star Cole Hauser are The Johns Chase Log in which the William Johns character talks about his initial chase of Riddick; plus The Chronicles of Riddick Visual Encyclopedia, in which Hauser defines some of the terms used in the Riddick universe.

The new material also includes Dark Fury: Advancing The Arc, which is a 90-second featurette on the animated Dark Fury DVD that bridges the events of Pitch Black with the new film, The Chronicles of Riddick.

Finally, there's a DVD-ROM Website Link to The Chronicles of Riddick web page.

What's Old:
Carried over from the last disc to this one are the two Audio Commentaries, the first by stars Vin Diesel and Cole Houser, plus director David Twohy; and the second featuring Twohy, Producer Tom Engelman and Visual Effects Supervisor Peter Chiang.

Also making their second appearance are two making-of featurettes – the five-minute Making of Pitch Black and the 4-minute A View In The Dark, which focuses more on the character of Riddick as seen by director David Twohy and star Vin Diesel.

What's Missing:
Somewhat surprisingly, the two Original Theatrical Trailers that appeared on the first DVD release have been excised from this DVD. Also missing is the featurette Raveworld Pitch Black Event, which showcased rave parties that took place in Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago to promote the release of Pitch Black.

Also missing on the new DVD are the Production Notes and Cast Biographies that were present on the previous disc.

THE BOTTOM LINE

This new version of Pitch Black is preferable to the old one only if you don't already own the first release. If you do, I don't think there's enough new stuff here to warrant an upgrade, and considering the movie itself is the same transfer and the older version has the theatrical trailers, I'd hang on to my old copy if I were you.

However, assuming you don't own the initial release, Pitch Black is a fun thriller that concentrates on character development as much as it does scaring the audience. For that reason, this disc is getting a "Highly Recommended" from me…but keep in mind, that's for those that don't already own the first release.
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