According to the IGN review:
A passenger spaceship is hit by a rogue asteroid or comet and is forced to make a crash landing on a strange, barren planet that has three suns. The survivors include one crew member, a Muslim pilgrim and his family, an eccentric traveler, a couple of other passengers (i.e. alien food), a cop, and a prisoner named Riddick. All have their own dark secrets and hidden pasts.
The survivors soon discover an abandoned geologic research station nearby. All of the scientists are gone, and we quickly find out why. Bizarre, bat-like nocturnal creatures live under the ground in the dark. They seem to be very hungry, too, and the scientists were their last meal. Take a creature from Aliens, mix it with a bat, a panther, and a hammerhead shark and you have these critters. There are also smaller, faster flying versions, too.
The survivors realize they must stick together if they will make it off the planet, however most all of them are selfish in their own way. The motto of the group seems to be. Let’s stick together, because when the monsters come I only have to run faster than you to get away! Can they make it out alive?
They must transport some power cells to a small spacecraft at the outpost in order to get off the planet. But (and there’s always a but) a rare eclipse of the three suns takes place and the planet becomes dark. The creatures then come out in force and the race to get away is on. Only light keeps the creatures at bay, but how long will that last?
THIS IS THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION FILM OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM!!!!!!!
(Well, actually the millennium is only one and a half months old, and it technically doesn’t start till January 2001, but I wanted to see if I could get quoted like Harry Knowles in Pitch Black ads. 🙂 )
Truthfully, I enjoyed this film. I wanted a good popcorn flick with cool effects and a lot of action, and that’s what I got. The plot is not particularly deep, but for what it sets out to do, it does well.
The cast was well chosen. Vin Diesel was excellent as the prisoner Riddick. He’s tough, he’s mean, and he’s definitely no good guy, but you begin to like him nevertheless. Diesel played the part very well and I¿d definitely like to see him play this character again. I think he’d be great in other action flicks. The rest of the cast did good jobs as well.
The special effects weren’t ground breaking caliber, but they were still good. The ship crash had some excellent moments and there is one particular scene where the creatures take flight at the beginning of the eclipse that is memorable. A really beautiful shot as clouds of the creatures swarm in the sky with the eclipse as a background.
To make the planet a little more otherworldly, colored filters were used to give everything a different hue as if there was an alien sun and sky. I didn’t like the effect at first, but in the end it did help make the terrain a bit less earth-like.
I also liked some of the clever shots at the beginning when Riddick gets away and is stalking the survivors. Definitely one of the funnier parts of the film.
Though this film borrows from Aliens, it is a little taste of what I hoped one of the Aliens sequels would have been. I always wanted Ripley and the Marines to go to the Alien homeworld, and I couldn’t help but think this is a little bit of what that would have been like. (They did in the Dark Horse comics, but that’s another story.)
In any case, I was in the mood for this movie, so I enjoyed it.
I didn’t care for some of the filming techniques. Occasionally, the camera would shake all over the place. As Mr. Cranky once said in a review, it seemed as if the camera was strapped to a chimp to film the scene. All it did was make what was going on more confusing, and left me scratching my head as to what happened. Fights should be beautifully choreographed and appreciated, while this effect just seemed to cover everything up. There were also random slow motion shots that seemed to me to serve no purpose, and every once in a while the frame would be squashed and distorted for some sort of artsy effect.
The story seemed to take its natural course, however, that unfortunately led to a rather anti-climactic ending. I was hoping for some big money shot and a slam bang finish, but it didn’t happen. Maybe if the film had a bigger budget we would have seen more, but that wasn’t to be.
There were also some statements about God in the film. The Muslim keeps reaffirming his faith even though all these bad things happen to him, and Riddick ridicules him for his belief. I kept thinking by the end some statement would be made on faith one way or another, whether it be Riddick finding his faith or the Muslim losing his, but neither happened. Seemed like a missed opportunity.
I’d say being ripped in half by a cloud of flying bat-alien creatures qualifies as ugly, eh?