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A hodgepodge of the action, science fiction and horror genres, PITCH BLACK ($30) is a totally terrific popcorn movie. Set in the far distant future, after mankind has begun traveling to the far flung reaches of the galaxy; PITCH BLACK offers the perfect set up for one to find monsters still lurking in the dark. As the film opens, a space faring cargo transport crash lands on a virtually barren, desert like planet that is surrounded by three suns, which would seem to guarantee constant daylight. There are a handful of survivors from the crash, including a transported prisoner named Riddick (Vin Diesel), who manages to escape confinement at the crash site.

When one of the other survivors turn up dead, Riddick is assumed to be the cause, but the dangerous criminal warns the other survivors that there is something far worse than him on the planet. An investigation of the local caves reveals that there are vicious hungry creatures lurking in the darkness below ground. Fortunately for the survivors, the creatures are highly photosensitive and cannot venture into the daylight. However, relief gives way to outright horror, when the survivors realize that the movement of nearby planetary bodies is about to cause a month long total eclipse of the suns that will leave them in total darkness. The cast of PITCH BLACK also features Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Keith David, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Claudia Black, Rhiana Griffith, John Moore, Simon Burke, Les Chantery, Sam Sari and Firass Dirani.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made PITCH BLACK available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Both the Theatrical Cut and Unrated Director’s Cut of the film are contained on the Blu-ray. The 1080p presentations are pretty terrific, especially when one considers that this is pretty difficult material. Because of the storyline, PITCH BLACK goes from one visual extreme to another. Daylight sequences are harsh looking with mildly blown out contrast. Nighttime sequences can be as the title suggests… pitch black, with very little illumination other than what the characters may be carrying on their persons. Despite the extremes in lighting, PITCH BLACK delivers a very sharp, highly detail and dimensional image. Colors are skewed by the extremes in the lighting, but usually come across very well. Blacks are deep and inky, while the whites are pure. Contrast is very good for both of the film's intended looks. Shadow detail can be quite impressive; however, it is intentionally truncated in places. That said; PITCH BLACK never becomes a murky, muddy visual mess. The elements from which PITCH BLACK has been transferred are quite clean. Grain is noticeable throughout the presentation and it totally appropriate and organic.

PITCH BLACK is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No surprises here, PITCH BLACK delivers the big action/sci-fi movie sound. The mix is pretty aggressive, with sounds coming at the viewer from all sides during the monster attacks, or any of the action movie moments. Effects have a fluid quality and move around the soundstage effortlessly. Fidelity is great, the sound effects have an in your face quality and the music comes across in a lively manner. The bass channel adds plenty of percussion to the explosions and crashes, as well as some ground-shaking rumble. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc for the Theatrical Cut. Subtitles are provided in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off are two running Audio Commentaries; the first is with writer/director David Twohy plus actors Vin Diesel, and Cole Hauser, while the second features Twohy again, plus producer Tom Engelman, and visual effects supervisor Peter Chang. Next is An Introduction By David Twohy. Featurettes include: The Game Is On, Johns' Chase Log, The Making Of Pitch Black, Dark Fury: Advancing The Arc, The Chronicles Of Riddick Visual Encyclopedia and A View Into The Dark. Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements (requires a Profile 1.1 player). PITCH BLACK is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

As I stated above, PITCH BLACK is a terrific popcorn movie. The Blu-ray presentation is pretty sweet and certain to please fans. Recommended to the popcorn movie set.



Pitch Black [Blu-ray] (2000)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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