We have discussed film and TV before, and when I mention it to H she says “I am surprised you pollute my brain-space by mentioning it”. Why would you want to watch such a thing? Well, I found Pitch Black entertaining. I like stories of people confronting and overcoming difficulties, in reality, and in this alien setting the story is told with no extraneous matter. Some character-archetypes are established, they learn about the threat, Riddick gets through but others die because of particular character flaws. The threat itself is horrible. It has Claudia Black from Farscape, not to be confused with Claudia Black the author and therapist. I have it on disc and would watch it again.
Then I saw Babylon AD on TV, and am surprised it had a cinema release. VD is again a world-weary mercenary, who keeps to his sense of honour though all around are hypocrites or monstrous exploiters or Downtrodden. He has one facial expression and one vocal expression, and he walks along trying not to be seen, because when he is seen he has to run about or kill people.
The Chronicles of Riddick comes in between, for me; it is entertaining enough. It starts with Riddick running across a hellish icy landscape of craters and crevasses and cliffs, fleeing two men in flying machines. Of course he kills both and reaches safety. There is the briefest respite from the Threat for him. Then he must flee Dawn on a planet, as the radiation kills those outside the caves. He defeats an adversary hunting him, whom he leaves in a cage with ferocious alien beasts. He defeats the monstrous Cult taking over the galaxy and killing all who will not convert. Judi Dench has a cameo.
Mmm. Teen movies for the middle-aged, like me: why else reprise a character from films of 2000 and 2004? I really do not know why I prefer Pitch Black to Babylon AD: the same dark-grey characters in dystopia, running about and shouting. It could be the mood I was in when watching. It could be that I have matured since I watched Pitch Black at least five years ago.
I turn to Rotten Tomatoes. Can the reviews of both differentiate them? Yes, both are B movie action films where stock characters battle recycled threats. They don’t seem to know, either: Entertainment Weekly finds “characters sketchier than guests on the Enterprise” and yet, somehow, it works: “Pitch Black is so jaunty, so limber, and so visually self-assured that art peeks through where crap has traditionally made its home”. Film.com is quoted by Rotten Tomatoes: The film works because it’s strong on fundamentals: fear of the dark, fear of helplessness, fear of the unknown, and fear of unpredictable human behavior. Archetypal, in other words. Whereas by the time I find that VD’s ward, or “package”, in Babylon AD is a genetically engineered super-human, I have ceased to care.
I have a look at the trailer: it offers everything Pitch Black gave. Which is not enough of a reason to see this film.