Big Picture Big Sound

Pitch Black on Blu-ray Disc Review

By Rachel Cericola
The Film

It's easy to write off Pitch Black as a Vin-Diesel-does-Alien rip-off. In fact, the killers in this sci-fi thriller appear to be the love child of Ripley's infamously aggressive ETs and a pterodactyl.  At least that's what we think they might look like. You never really get a good look at them. Maybe that adds to the suspense. After all, it's certainly not Diesel's creepy-colored contacts.

The first in the Riddick series finds our action hero as a convict with super-human eyes and strength. However, his power pales in comparison to the creatures on this otherwise barren planet. Unfortunately, Riddick's ride has crash-landed where the critters live. If making it through the crash wasn't difficult enough, it seems that its inhabitants want to pick off the survivors one by one.

Fortunately, the aliens only come out at night and this planet just happens to have three suns. In other words, if you can keep away from one of the planet's many caverns, you're golden right? Well, our survivors' visit just happens to coincide with a very rare triple eclipse, so it appears that it's on.

Pitch Black is the flick that unleashed Riddick on the world, so that should tell you how things pan out for him. Still, despite the recycled material from the sci-fi thriller handbook, Pitch Black is a nifty little sci-fi ride for fans that appreciate a good alien-induced bloodbath in high-def.

Check out Joe Lozito's second opinion, with his review of the theatrical version of Pitch Black.

The Picture

With Diesel's films, you may not always get the best acting, the best storyline or the best dialogue, but you can bet that the image is going to dazzle -- and Pitch Black delivers. The 2.35:1 transfer shows off plenty of detail in the desert, the spaceship's interior, and even in the film's many dark scenes. The color is bold and sharp, but there are a few moments in the film where the picture is almost blinding. That's one of the benefits of creating a locale with three suns. Since it's intentional, we can't say anything that bad, but it does wash out some of the detail in those few, fleeting moments. It also conveys what it's like to actually be dropped into this scary, not-so-exotic locale. Overall, the image is quite impressive, especially when you consider that the film only had a $23 million budget.

The Sound

Universal has matched the impressive image with DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. The end result is quite the playground for sound; expect your surrounds and subwoofer to get a serious workout and the walls to be shaking. The soundtrack is especially effective, with creepy music swirling around the speakers to keep you on the edge or your seat.

The Extras

Riddick fans will be a little disappointed; Universal isn't offering up any new extras for this Blu-ray release. The unrated director's cut offers three more minutes, but this is just one of the many extras that were previously released on DVD. If you're new to Pitch Black at home, check out "Chronicles Of Riddick Visual Encyclopedia," "Johns' Chase Log," and "A View Into The Dark," which almost play like extended deleted scenes, offering additional and background info for super-fans.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to Blu-ray, can you go wrong with an action franchise? Pitch Black is regarded as the more entertaining of the two Riddick flicks and it looks and sounds hot (physically and literally) in high-def.

Where to Buy:
Product Details
  • Actors: Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Cole Houser, Keith David, Rhiana Griffith
  • Director: David Twohy
  • Audio/Languages: DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio (English), DTS 5.1: Theatrical Only (Spanish, French), Dolby Digital 2.0 (English)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Region: A
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Rating: R
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • Blu-ray Disc Release Date: March 31, 2009
  • Run Time: 109 minutes (rated), 112 minutes (unrated)
  • List Price: $29.98
  • Extras:
    • Feature Commentary with Vin Diesel, Cole Hauser and Director David Twohy
    • Feature Commentary with Director David Twohy, Producer Tom Engelman and Visual Effects Supervisor Peter Chiang
    • My Scenes
    • An Introduction by David Twohy
    • The Game Is On
    • Johns' Chase Log
    • The Making of Pitch Black
    • Dark Fury: Advancing the Arc
    • The Chronicles of Riddick Encyclopedia
    • A View into the Dark
    • Pitch Black Raw (U-Control)
    • Picture in Picture (U-Control)
    • BD Live

What did you think?

View all articles by Rachel Cericola
More in Blu-Ray and DVD
Big News
Newsletter Sign-up
Connect with Us