Pitch Black (Arrow Video) 4K Blu-ray Review


Arrow Video release their second (yes, their second. Flash Gordon was their first) 4K blu-ray and it is glorious. This release will make fans very happy all around with some fantastic special features.

Studio: Arrow Video
Release Date: February 18th, 2000 (theatrical) / September 1st, 2020 (4K blu-ray)
Run Time: 1h 48m 6s (theatrical) / 1h 51m 45s (director's cut)
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 2160p (2.35:1 aspect ratio)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH
Slipcover: No
Digital Copy: No  
Starring: Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Keith David, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, and Claudia Black
Written by Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat, and David Twohy
Directed by David Twohy
Rating: R (sci-fi gore and violence and for language) (theatrical) / Unrated (sci-fi gore and violence, and for language) (director's cut)

THE FILM




Two Versions of the film:

  • Theatrical (1h 48m 6s, UHD, 2.35:1)
  • Director’s Cut (1h 51m 45s, UHD, 2.35:1)

Set in the distant future, a spaceship carrying some 40 people, mostly ones wanting to settle on other planets from their own, hits a meteor shower and crash lands on a distant planet killing all but twelve of them. The survivors, led by the second-in-command Carolyn Fry ('Rahda Mitchell' ), find themselves on a hot and arid landscape with constant sunlight from three orbiting suns. Fry not only must help the survivors find food and water, but contend with a deadly criminal, named Riddick (Vin Diesel), who was being transported to a prison cell on their destination. But every 22 years, the planet's three suns go into a total eclipse for a month where darkness brings out the planet's real inhabitants; large, reptilian, vampire-like creatures that come out and dominate the surface in total darkness, killing and eating all life. The Fry and her people then must cooperate with Riddick, who has surgically enhanced eyes to see in darkness, to lead them to safety and off the planet before they all become dinner for the creatures.

I have never liked PITCH BLACK. I get why people love it. The film just never gelled with me. I like the opening scenes where the shuttle is crashing. I have always found that well-executed. I also love the way the film looks with its use of color during the daytime and its use of darkness during the nighttime scenes. I just find the film dull.

One thing that I can attribute to this is I don’t like most of the characters. Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, and Keith David really bring this film to life, but the rest of the cast does nothing for me. It doesn’t help that everyone seems to love to argue, something I have always hated in films like this. I understand that there needs to be tension, but the tension should be with the threat from the outside, not always with the one on the inside. 

I also hate most of the CGI used in the film. It looks awful and takes me right out of the film. The creatures could have been created with puppetry, and I am sure some were, but when the creatures fly into the air in groups, it looks like a black glob instead of a group of individual creatures. 

I do give the filmmakers for trying something different. It takes guts to make a film, with a fairly decent budget, that isn’t based on anything that came before. The creatures are unique and could be scary, but the filmmakers seem to be going for the easy jump scare without really setting anything up to proceed the jump scare that isn’t predictable. I don’t know. I guess I just wanted more out of the film. I didn’t see it when it first came out. I saw it about ten years after the fact. I missed all the talk about the film and felt that this was to my advantage, but it wasn’t. 

PITCH BLACK is a decent sci-fi horror flick that goes for jump scares instead of creating tension. Some of the actors are fantastic, while others are not. I get why people love this film, but I am just not one of them.

THE PICTURE AND THE SOUND



Presented in the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and given the Dolby Vision and HDR10+ treatment and the results are great. The darkness of the second half really comes into it’s own here giving us a real sense of nothing (and by nothing I mean emptiness and not that there is nothing here worth a damn.) The blues and yellows of the first half really shine here, but not in an “in your face” kind of way. Detail is insane here with the details in people’s faces being a real big draw. The CGI that I didn’t think was all that great really shows its age here with most of it looking like garbage. This is something that has been happening a lot with the added resolution. Films look much different in 4K than they do in 1080p, if done properly. Arrow really did hit it out of the park with this one and I am looking forward to what they bring us next.

We have a DTS-HD Master Audio track to listen to while looking at these gorgeous visuals and the track sounds great. Dialogue sounds excellent and we are given a real sense of the world the characters inhabit. 

THE FEATURES 



Commentaries

  • Commentary by David Twohy, Vin Diesel, and Cole Hauser
  • Commentary by David Twohy, Tom Engelman, and Peter Chiang

Nightfall: The Making of Pitch Black with David Twohy (23m 51s, HD, 2.35:1) A newly filmed interview with the film’s writer/director.

Black Box: Jackie’s Journey with Rhiana Griffith (12m 2s, HD, 2.35:1) A newly recorded interview with the actor on playing the role of Jack.

Black Box: Shazza’s Last Stand with Claudia Black (&m 14s, HD, 2.35:1) A newly recorded interview with the actor on playing the role of Shazza.

Black Box: Bleach Bypass with David Eggby (10m 44s, HD, 2.35:1) A newly recorded interview with the cinematographer of the film. 

Black Box: Cryo-Locked with Peter Chiang (13m, HD, 2.35:1) A newly recorded interview with the visual effects supervisor.

Black Box: Primal Screams with Graeme Revell (11m 28s, HD, 2.35:1) A newly recorded interview with the composer on the film.

The Making of Pitch Black (4m 46s, SD, 1.33:1) This archive promotional featurette from 2000 looks at the making of the film, with cast and crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

Behind the Scenes (18m 13s, SD, 1.33:1) Originally a picture-in-picture extra on the 2009 blu-ray release, this extra explores the making of the film through additional cast and crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

Pitch Black Raw (11m 38s, SD, 1.33:1) Originally a picture-in-picture extra on the 2009 blu-ray release, this extra compares pre-production sketches, raw production footage, and VFX animatics to the final film footage.

2004 Special Edition Extras:

  • An introduction by David Twohy (2m 24s, SD, 1.33:1) A brief introduction to the film by the director, explaining how the film connects to its then-forthcoming sequel The Chronicles of Riddick.
  • A View into the Dark (4m 5s, SD, 1.33:1) An archive featurette exploring how the film sets up its then-forthcoming sequel The Chronicles of Riddick
  • John’s Chase Log (6m 8s, SD, 1.33:1) A series of animated diaries from before the events of the film by Johns, narrated in-character by actor Cole Hauser
  • The Chronicles on Riddick: Visual Encyclopedia (1m 42s, SD, 1.33:1)

The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (34m 48s, HD, 1.78:1) An animated sequel by director Peter Chung that bridges the events of Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, with vocal performances by Vin Diesel, Keith David, and Rhiana Griffith. 

  • Animatic to Animation (32m 45s, SD, 1.78:1)
  • Advancing the Arc (1m 29s, SD, 1.33:1)
  • Bridging the Gap (8m 31s, SD, 1.33:1)
  • Peter Chung: The Mind of an Animator (5m 3s, SD, 1.33:1)
  • Into the Light (5m 4s, SD, 1.33:1)

Beyond the Movie

  • Slam City (8m 4s, SD, 1.33:1) This motion comic prequel was originally created by Brian Murray and David Twohy for Pitch Black’s official website.
  • Into Pitch Black (43m 55s, SD, 1.33:1) This TV special was commissioned by the Sci-Fi Channel to promote Pitch Black and features Vin Diesel, briefly reprising his role as Riddick in a non-cannon investigation into the events of the film.
  • Raveworld: Pitch Black Event (20m 37s, SD, 1.33:1) A promotional featurette documenting a dance music event set up to promote the film, featuring appearances by DJs including Carl Cox and Nigel Richards.

Trailers

  • Pitch Black (UK Trailer) (2m 36s, HD, 2.35:1)
  • Pitch Black (green band) (2m 30s, SD, 1.85:1)
  • Pitch Black (red band) (2m 33s, SD, 1.85:1)
  • The Chronicles of Riddick (1m 34s, HD, 2.35:1)
  • Riddick (2m 24s, HD, 2.35:1)
  • Escape from Butcher’s Bay (1m 48s, SD, 1.85:1, 4x3)

Image Galleries 

  • Production Stills (99 images)
  • Concept Art and Special Effects (56 images)
  • Storyboards (174 images)
  • Publicity Gallery (15 images)

THE WRAP-UP




PITCH BLACK may not be a film that I liked but that shouldn’t stop you from checking it out, especially in 4K where the film’s visuals really shine. Arrow went the extra step and included what I believe is every single special feature ever created for PITCH BLACK which is a real accomplishment. This is a wonderful release for fans of the film and one that may convert even more into the Cult of Riddick.

THE SCREENSHOTS 


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