Pitch Black: Collector's Edition (2000)

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Released 15-Nov-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Making of Pitch Black (4:45)
Audio Commentary-David Twohy (Dir), Vin Diesel (Act) & Cole Hauser (Act)
Audio Commentary-David Twohy (Dir), Tom Engelman (Prod) & Peter Chiang (VFx)
Featurette-Raveworld Pitch Black Event (20:39)
Theatrical Trailer-2
Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Notes-DVD Newsletter
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 103:48
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:38) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Twohy
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Vin Diesel
Radha Mitchell
Cole Hauser
Keith David
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music Graeme Revell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
Dutch
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Somewhat of a dark horse at the cinemas, Pitch Black was quietly doing the rounds and surprising people with its original storyline and great special effects. Directed by David Twohy (The Arrival), he has managed to capture another world perfectly on film.

    Pitch Black's basic premise is as follows: Set in the far distant future, a ship is travelling through space when it is brought down by a meteor storm onto an unknown planet. Only a quarter of the ship's passengers survive, with some of them being the ship's pilot Fry (Radha Mitchell), bounty hunter Johns (Cole Hauser) and escaped convict Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel). Desperately trying to survive, they search for water. While doing this, they discover that the planet has three suns and that there is no darkness...yet. After discovering an "abandoned" research facility, the group also finds out that there is an eclipse every twenty-two years, with this being the twenty-second year since the last, and when an eclipse happens on this planet strange creatures come out to play. They only come out in darkness because they are somewhat allergic to light. As the convenient eclipse occurs (for the monsters), the ship's survivors try to make it through the night. Using Riddick's superhuman ability to see in darkness to their advantage, the survivors try to make it back to the escape ship with the necessary power before they are killed by the monsters.

    Filmed in Coober Pedy in South Australia, Pitch Black creates images of a desolate and lonely planet. Director Twohy has applied several processes to the film stock to bring the resultant image closer to his vision for this movie, but more on this in the video section.

    I liked Pitch Black, but several plot points used by the director make it a very coincidental film. It's one of those "if he only didn't do this, or if they hadn't done that" type of films where a very improbable plot keeps the film rolling. Still, if you are a sci-fi or horror fan (or both like myself), then Pitch Black is an entertaining ride and well worth viewing.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Pitch Black is blessed with an excellent transfer with only minor problems.

    It is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    As mentioned earlier, director Twohy has employed a bleach bypass process for all of the outdoor scenes that are set in daylight. In this process, the film stock is not dipped in all of the different liquids that normally process film. One or more processing steps are skipped, depending on the director's particular needs. In this case, Twohy wanted an extreme increase in contrast and chroma level in order to achieve a desert feel. This means that the scenes set in daylight have so much contrast that the light is blooming off the actors faces (in particular). Due to this process, the sharpness level in these scenes is somewhat lower than the rest of the film, which is razor sharp at all other times. Shadow detail is a little varied. In an early scene when Fry and Riddick have a little chat while he is chained to the wall, shadow detail is exemplary but later on in the movie when it is all dark, details become a little blurred, however this is to be expected when a film is set in darkness. There is no low-level noise.

    Colour is also great, especially when a lot of it has been added in post-production. My favourite sequence in the movie is when the survivors discover the three suns - this is the best example of how vibrant the colour is in this transfer. Also, the light from the blue sun is reproduced very well indeed.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen and I could not spot one case of definite aliasing. I only noticed two flecks on the print, which meant it must have been very clean.

    This disc is RSDL formatted with the layer change occurring at 56:38. This change was during a natural fade-to-black and was very unobtrusive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Pitch Black is also given a great audio transfer.

    There are four audio tracks on this DVD, being English and German Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes and two Dolby Surround encoded commentaries. I listened to the English track and also to the commentaries.

    Dialogue quality is very clear except in some scenes which have high amounts of background sound. In these scenes, the clarity of the dialogue is slightly lower than normal.

    Audio sync was perfect at all times.

    The musical score by Graeme Revell was very good and very suited to the film, even though the score is no more than a typical action film score.

    The surround channels were used very well for such things as ambience and music. Good examples of this are when the smaller creatures fly in swarms across the screen - this is represented well by the two front channels. The LFE channel was used extensively not only during the opening crash-landing of the ship but also during the rest of the film for music and gunshots (in particular).

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This disc is labelled as a Collector's Edition when really the only extras are commentaries.

Menu

    The menu consists of the Region 1 DVD cover art (why did Region 4 get stuck with poorer cover art?) with some bass-heavy music pounding in the background. It is 16x9 enhanced and has Dolby Surround-encoded audio.

Featurette - Making of Pitch Black

    A very short promotional piece that is basically the trailer mixed in with some interviews with the cast and crew. This should have been a full-on making-of featurette that covered such topics as the design of the creatures and so forth.

Audio Commentary - David Twohy (Director), Vin Diesel (Actor) & Cole Hauser (Actor)

    While this commentary is interesting, it isn't all that informative. Twohy has the most to say, whilst Hauser hardly says anything. Most of the time, the participants comment on the film rather than explaining parts of it, which is always welcome. No huge gaps are exhibited in this track although I still nearly fell asleep a couple of times. A lot of this commentary is Diesel saying "Oh I love that sequence" and "That is my favourite shot in the movie" which he says about five times.

Audio Commentary - David Twohy (Director), Tom Engelman (Producer) & Peter Chiang (Visual Effects Supervisor)

    This commentary is the better of the two, which is odd because FX commentaries are normally the more boring ones (see The Matrix). Twohy makes a lot of the same comments in this commentary that he does in the other one, although in this one he elaborates a little more on them. Particular interesting are the details given on the "Skip Bleach" process as Twohy calls it.

Featurette - Raveworld Pitch Black Event (20:39)

    This is a series of highlights from several night club events staged before the release of Pitch Black. It is VERY boring and doesn't even deserve a single viewing. It is twenty minutes worth of people dancing and some shots of the dozen or so DJs. Presented in several different ratios with the main one being 1.33:1 but also sometimes 2.35:1 and 1.85:1, none of it is 16x9 enhanced. Dolby Digital 2.0 audio accompanies the video. The video quality is also rather poor due to what looks like a handheld camera being used to film it.

Theatrical Trailers (2, 4:52)

    The two trailers presented here are the green and red band US trailers. The first has Dolby Surround audio while the second only has Dolby Stereo audio. They are both presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and are not 16x9 enhanced.

Production Notes

Biographies - Cast & Crew (6)

    For one of the bios there is a button next to the name, but it isn't selectable.

Notes - DVD Newsletter

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There are two versions of this DVD out in Region 1 - the normal R-rated version which we have and also the unrated Director's Cut, which has another three minutes or so of character development footage, not extra gore or blood.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     With a Director's Cut and a DTS track, the Region 1 would be the version to go for, although for those who don't have DTS and couldn't care less about three extra minutes of film, Region 4 would be the go.

Summary

    Pitch Black is a cool sci-fi/horror hybrid presented on a technically excellent DVD. The video has only minor problems and the audio is great. The extras are a little disappointing - a proper making-of featurette would have been the icing on the cake, but nonetheless it is definitely worth considering. Highly Recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Andrew Siers (I never did my biography in primary school)
Thursday, November 09, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplayToshiba 34N9UXA. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha CX-600 Pre-Amp, Yamaha MX-600 Stereo Power Amp for Mains, Yamaha DSP-E300 for Center, Teac AS-M50 for Surrounds.
SpeakersMain Left and Right Acoustic Research AR12s, Center Yamaha NS-C70, Surround Left and Right JBL Control 1s

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