Because the trailer is the true test of a movie's quality!


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Ratings Explanation


Pitch Black

"They say most of your brain shuts down in cryo-sleep, all but the animal side."

These words, spoken by an ominous and Kathleen Turner-esque breathy voice*, which we later figure out belongs to some psycho killer, begin the "Pitch Black" trailer. Apparently, the "animal side" is also known as the "homage to 'Alien' side," not to be confused with the "side of the reactive mind," which you can learn to control with Dianetics.

Anyhoo, I'll give props to the trailer for making it clear, very quickly, that there's a spaceship, and there are people on this spaceship. In addition, there seems to be a prisoner on board, which is made abundantly clear by a giant glowing sign on his cryo-tube that only a week old dead mole that was born blind and had its decaying eyes removed by a sharp stick wielded by a curious little toddler might miss.

There's a sudden explosion with lots of fire, people screaming, and a giant computer monitor that flashes "ERROR," in case you were confused as to what might be happening or couldn't tell something was amiss, because there is, indeed, something amiss. This is totally understandable and very considerate of the trailer makers because a Gallup poll shows 65% (+/-1%)** of Americans associate sudden, fiery explosions and people screaming with protesting monks.

Luckily for our band of travelers, and the audience (maybe), their ship does not explode in space causing them all to perish, but rather manages to crash on a very bright and very brown planet. A little overlaid text tells us there are 9 survivors, which is a nice number. It provides enough characters to slowly kill off in a 120 minute time span, but not so many that you can't keep them all straight. Despite this, the movie makers undoubtedly make character distinction easier through the casting of men and women with varying degrees of skin colour, hair styles, and eye wear. In addition, all the characters in the movie appear to be played by unknowns, clearly telling me, the trailer viewer, this movie had budgetary constraints and was one producer's-daughter-turned-actress away from being direct to video. However, the less industry savvy might be inclined to say casting unknowns in a thriller movie was a deliberate plot strategy to SHOCK the audience and keep them guessing, since an "A list" actor would have to survive and be the hero. Smart money says some of the apparent leads that the audience will root for will bite it.

But how will they bite it? The psycho killer who escaped from his cryo-tube during the crash? Of course not. No sir, because they happen to have crashed on the planet that has 24 hours of intense daylight, but they don't bake to death. Instead, they find out there are little CGI gremlins who are afraid of the light, which wouldn't be a problem, but o cursed fortune, shocker of shockers, there's an eclipse. Not since "Dusk Till Dawn 2" has an eclipse been used as such an effective*** plot device. So we have a crashed ship, a psycho killer, and CGI squid-bat-parrots that don't like light, which all makes sense because movies are all about co-incidences and compounding bad luck.

The trailer finally kicks into high gear by treating you to a couple of screams, heavy breathing, a thumping techno beat, and lots of people running in the dark from CGI beasties.

Now the biggest pisser of this trailer is that you're sitting in the theater, in "pitch black," your eyes all adjusted and pupils wide open, and it subjects you to sudden flashes of light. I'm guessing this is the closest I'll come to experiencing a SWAT team's flash grenade**** and this trailer reaffirms the fact that I don't want to experience that. This retinal burning alone is grounds enough to avoid this movie since I wouldn't want to experience hot celluloid pokers in the eyes for two hours.

However, I must admit the trailer does a good job with showing off the action and revealing just enough to entice you*****. I also have to say the final clip in the trailer is a welcome bonus - a character apparently manages to bow to frat brother pressure, chugs kerosene, and exhales onto a match to create a fireball, frightening off the near-by creatures, and, I assume, igniting some curtains and burning down the frat house.

In the end, you get the feeling the EVIL prisoner will wind up saving the lucky and beautiful few who deserve it, unless the EVIL prisoner decides to be a backstabbing bastard and only save himself, because such a "plot twist" would make studio executives pink their shorts and justify that beach house in Malibu they bought for the mistress. Also, the audience probably finds out the ship was meant to crash on the planet to eliminate the psycho prisoner, because he was part of a black-ops government program that needed to be swept under the rug. Then again, I could be wrong; I blame watching too many "Sci-Fi Channel Original Movies" for that.

This movie is a definite rental******, since it looks decently entertaining if you split the cost and watch it with friends*******. Also, watching this at home probably won't give you the same Oedipal desire to rip your eyes out to end the pain and burning caused by the "bright light, bright light." This movie could easily have been bumped into the "see it in the theater" zone if it had Chase Masterson.

*Minus the ever morphing and scientifically unclassifiable accent.
**The 1% margin of error due to foreigners who can't speak English, libertarians, pyromaniacs, and professional Gallup poll error makers who make a good earning doing what they do when they're not crossing picket lines as scabs.
***As anyone who's had a broken leg will attest to, crutches are very effective.
****Unless someone tips them off to those bodies I have buried in the to the apple, the one on the other side.
*****In much the same way you're enticed to eat a hamburger after visiting a slaughterhouse that has managed to fall off the USDA's sanitation and inspection list.
******Unless you're able catch it on the Sci-Fi Channel, on which it will undoubtedly make a "world-wide premiere," since it is a USA Films production.
*******Provided you don't want to keep your friends for long and don't have a hook (e.g. free booze, drugs, pirated cable) to keep them around, pretending to like you.

Rent it.

Review by




USA Films, the mark of quality, and the sign you'll be seeing this movie on the Sci-Fi Channel next year.


"Pulp Fiction" in space? Or ball gags for the sado-masochist of the fuuuuuuuture?


It's all fun and games until someone gets a ranging scope stuck in their eye.


CGI beastie vision - proving that despite years of advancement and Hollywood's ability to make dinosaurs come to life or make ray-tards shake hands with dead presidents, nothing beats a slight variation on "Beastmaster" vision.


First 100 people in the theater get FREE commerative Tupac Shakur "California Dreaming" goggles. WEST SIIIIIIIEEEEDE!


MULDER?! I think I'm stuck in an NBC Sunday Night Mystery Movie.


It's good to see former Olympic decathalete Dan O'Brien getting work after that Dan vs. Dave debacle.

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