Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: Interscope Communications
Blu-ray: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Runtime: 108 min
Size: 50 GB
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: March 31, 2009
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Video codec: VC-1
English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1. Spanish & French DTS 5.1
(on Theatrical Cut only).
English SDH, Spanish & French
• Theatrical & Director's Cuts
• An Introduction by David Twohy
• Commentary with Actors Vin Diesel & Cole Hauser, and
Director David Twohy
• Commentary with David Twohy, Producer Tom Engelman, and
Visual Effects Supervisor Peter Chiang
• The Game Is On (1:49)
• Johns' Chase Log (7:12)
• The Making of Pitch Black (4:44)
• Dark Fury: Advancing the Arc (1:30)
• Chronicles of Riddick: Visual Encyclopedia (2:18)
• A View Into the Dark (4:06)
"I hope for strange and amazing adventures. Sometimes I
am gratified. More often I am disappointed. "Pitch Black,"
which begins in deep space and ends with a manhunt on a
desert planet, falls somewhere in between: clever, done with
skill, yet lacking in the cerebral imagination of the best
science fiction. How sad it is that humans travel countless
light years away from Earth, only to find themselves
inhabiting the same tired generic conventions."
Excerpt of review from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun Times located HERE
LN: Continuing Universal's voyage through their HD-DVD
catalogue for release – and upgrade where possible – onto
Blu-ray comes the two big Riddick adventures from the same
writer/director thus far: the first, Pitch Black, dating
from 2000, and The Chronicles of Riddick from 2004. They are
getting a simultaneous release for March 31. I might mention
that Dark Fury, a related animated short film, does not
appear on either Blu-ray, though there is a bonus feature
that gives it a passing thought on this disc.
The Movie: 7
A space freighter/transport with passengers aboard in cryo
makes an unscheduled emergency crash landing on a desert
planet. On board is Riddick (Vin Diesel) who was being taken
to a prison colony by the mercenary Johns (Cole Hauser).
Among the survivors are the pilot Fry (Radha Mitchell) - the
captain having been killed in the landing - a family of
Muslims headed by Imam (Keith David), an antique wine
collector (Paris Ogilvie), a handy woman (Claudia Black),
and a teenager of questionable gender named Jack (Rhiana
Riddick makes good his escape from the ship early on, but
finds it useful to remain connected to the main group for
one reason or another. As tensions between him and Johns
find an uneasy détente, the survivors discover the remains
of a previous expedition. Soon the creatures that terminated
that group find the newly arrived food group. Riddick, a man
used to fending only for himself, is put to the mensch test.
Their ship crippled: How to survive? How to escape?"
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence
compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.
The second number places this image along the full range of
DVD and Blu-ray discs.
As can be seen from the screen caps, Pitch Black spent a lot
of time in post-production turning into a suitable fictional
reality. Image coherence therefore suffers, but not, I
imagine, at the hands of the transfer process. The movie
spends a good deal of time in the overexposed sun and later
in the dark of an eclipse. Neither is revealing as to the
transfer, except that the shadows do reveal sufficient
detail. The color palette is exaggerated but there doesn't
appear to be much if any chroma noise as a result. It's not
the sort of image one shows off to one's friends to prove
how smart we were committing to high definition, but it
serves the material well.
Audio & Music:
No doubt the bump to uncompressed audio opens up the sound
as compared to either the DVD or HD-DVD, but I still found
it a little flat and uninteresting. It lacks complexity and
texture. LFE are present but strike me as a little
disconnected. Surround effects are similarly disorganized,
though immersive. Dialogue is clear, but a little unfocused.
All that said, the audio mix is properly explosive and in
your face. Subtlety may not be its claim, but brutal power
is. And this, it does well.
The menu is laid out like other Universal Blu-rays. Arrows
tell you which way to direct your remote, and the bonus
feature instructions are detailed and intuitive. The chapter
menu includes buttons for U-Control in case you want to
approach those functions from that point. There are the
usual number of U-Control opportunities to invite and
These are much the same features as appeared in previous
incarnations of the movie on video. The commentary with
Twohy, Engelman and Chiang is very detailed in respect to
artistic decisions in production, lighting (from the
overexposed days to the graduated eclipse), modeling of the
creatures made given the shooting medium and the eventual
endgame. The other commentary with Twohy and Diesel is
chattier with little of importance to add.
All of the extra features were present in previous video
incarnations and are in standard definition. Except for Dark
Fury: Advancing the Arc, the others are remarkable for some
of the vaguest images on disc – I found them better listened
to, than watched.
Pitch Black Raw, a feature that can be found under
U-Control, offers comparisons of the special effects in
various stages of production. It was included with HD-DVD
and returns here as well.
It's Aliens meet The Poseidon Adventure – in the desert.
Diesel is a presence of sorts and keeps his sardonic remarks
brief. And while it doesn't break any new ground, I rather
liked the look of it, and that Twohy doesn't insist that his
characters do completely stupid things just because it's a
proper popcorn horrorshow B-movie. Too bad the Extra
Features don't amount to much.
March 13th, 2009