Pitch Black appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Though a challenging presentation, the Dolby Vision image looked very good.
Overall sharpness worked well. Occasional wider shots felt a little on the soft side, but those never became more than a minor distraction.
The movie lacked jaggies or moiré effects, and I saw no hints of edge haloes. The film brought a light layer of grain, and print flaws manifested a couple of tiny specks but nothing more.
In terms of palette, Black tended to opt for stark hues, as the movie usually went with either strong ambers/yellows or chilly blues. As limited as these choices were, the disc reproduced them effectively. The 4K UHD’s HDR added breadth and impact to the tones.
Blacks looked deep and dark, while shadows appeared accurate and concise. HDR contributed to solid contrast and whites. The movie held up well over the last 20 years.
As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it also satisfied, especially in the way it brought out the action sequences. With a fair amount of mayhem, the soundfield opened up well and allowed the material to use the speakers in a bold, engaging manner.
General atmosphere also fared nicely, as the planet setting allowed the mix to create a good sense of place. Throw in broad stereo score – with reinforcement in the surrounds – and the track delivered a fine multichannel presentation.
Audio quality worked well, with speech that seemed natural and concise, despite a couple of slightly edgy lines. Music boasted good vivacity and range, with clean highs and warm lows.
Given all the action, effects became a significant factor, and the mix reproduced these elements in a powerful, accurate manner. Low-end seemed deep and full. All in all, the audio satisfied.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Audio remained identical, as both versions offered the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 track.
On the other hand, the 4K UHD’s Dolby Vision presentation demonstrated improvements, as it looked better defined and brought bolder colors and deeper blacks. While not an enormous upgrade, the 4K became the more stable and natural of the two.
On this disc, we find two versions of Pitch Black: the “R”-rated theatrical release (1:48:06) and an unrated Director’s Cut (1:51:45). What does that extra three minutes, 39 seconds give to the viewer?
I thought the DC might add graphic content, but instead, it concentrates on character elements. These offer short extensions – obviously, since the DC runs less than four minutes longer than the theatrical.
As such, they don’t do much to change the movie, though they give us a smidgen more depth about the roles. I guess the filmmakers feared the added 3:39 would slow the film too much, and I get that, but the extensions seem brief enough that they don’t create a problem.
Either version of the movie feels satisfactory. While the additions to the DC work fine, they don’t create a cinematic experience that seems much different than the theatrical version.
The disc provides two commentaries, both of which were recorded for the original 2000 DVD. Note that these only accompany the Director’s Cut.
For the first commentary, we hear from director David Twohy and actors Vin Diesel and Cole Hauser. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of story and characters, cast and performances, sets, cut scenes and additions to the Director’s Cut, effects and related domains.
Expect a pretty average commentary here. While the participants bring us a decent look at aspects of the production, they don’t offer a lot of depth or insights, and they devote a lot of time to praise for the film. This becomes a listenable piece but not one with much to make it memorable.
In the second commentary, we get notes from director David Twohy, producer Tom Engelman and visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific take on creature design and execution, cinematography, and various effects/technical elements.
While more informative than the first commentary, this one doesn’t become much more interesting. We get a decent look at effects and connected topics, but the chat tends to feel a bit slow and dry. This turns into another mediocre track.
From here we find a slew of featurettes, and first we go to Nightfall, a 23-minute, 51-second interview with Twohy. He discusses his career, how he came to Black and development, casting, sets and locations, photography, creature design and effects, and the movie’s release.
Despite inevitable repetition from the commentaries, Twohy provides a pretty tight overview here. Too bad Twohy doesn’t name the “major dick” actor the studio originally wanted to cast as Riddick, though!
Black Box spans 12 minutes, two seconds and brings a chat with actor Rhiana Griffith. She covers her career and work on Black in this fairly effective piece.
In the same vein, Shazza’s Last Stand provides a seven-minute, 14-second conversation with actor Claudia Black. She also gives us a look at the Black shoot in this reasonably useful chat.
Bleach Bypassed brings a 10-minute, 44-second interview with cinematographer David Eggby, as he digs into photography and cinematic choices. Expect a pretty good overview.
Next comes Cryo-Locked, a 13-minute chat with visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang. As expected, he talks about the movie’s effects and delivers a fairly informative program.
Primal Sounds delivers an 11-minute, 28-second interview with composer Graeme Revell. He tells us a little about his career but mostly concentrates on his work for Black. We get another good discussion.
From 2000, The Making of Pitch Black fills four minutes, 46 seconds with info from Diesel, Hauser, Twohy, and actor Radha Mitchell. Despite a few minor notes, this ends up as a mediocre promo piece.
Previously used as a “picture-in-picture” feature on the movie’s 2009 Blu-ray, Behind the Scenes goes for 18 minutes, 13 seconds. It presents footage from the shoot along with remarks from Twohy, Diesel, Mitchell, and Hauser.
While we watch more images from the shoot, we get basics about the production. Though superior to “Making of”, “Behind the Scenes” feels like an extension of it, so don’t expect great depth.
In the same vein, Pitch Black Raw also comes from the 2009 release’s PiP component. It goes for 11 minutes, 38 seconds and features shots at the pre-effects level as well as composite work, concept art, dailies and similar materials.
Though interesting as it stands, commentary would make this more engaging, as I’d prefer to know more about what we see. We do get a few notes from Twohy toward the end, but don’t anticipate much direct information.
A few more components appear under 2004 Special Edition Extras. An “Introduction by David Twohy” lasts two minutes, 24 seconds and mainly acts to connect Black to its first sequel.
He offers superficial remarks, and these literally repeat what he said during “Raw”. Skip the intro.
“A View Into the Dark” fills four minutes, five seconds and also relates to the 2004 sequel. We hear from Twohy and Diesel. It’s promotional fluff.
Performed in character by Hauser, “Johns’ Chase Log” goes for six minutes, eight seconds and brings “animated diaries”. This offers some decent character material and adds a fun component.
Finally, a “Visual Encyclopedia” occupies one minute, 42 seconds. Also from Hauser as Johns, it provides rudimentary notes about different film-related concepts. It doesn’t bring much to the table.
Another piece of connective tissue between Black and its first sequel, Dark Fury offers a 34-minute, 48-second animated tale. With Diesel, Griffith and actor Keith David in tow, we get some of the film’s talent, and these factors make “Fury” interesting. It’s a small but creepy story.
We also find five featurettes related to “Fury”: “Animatic to Animation” (32:45), “Advancing the Arc” (1:29), “Bridging the Gap” (8:31), “The Mind of an Animator” (5:03) and “Into the Light” (5:04).
You’ll note that “Animatic” runs nearly as long as “Fury” itself. That’s because it presents the whole film in animatic form. While not tremendously interesting to see, it still becomes kind of a cool addition.
Across the rest of the clips, we hear from Diesel, Twohy, director Peter Chung, writer Brett Matthews and executive producer George Zakk. The first three featurettes offer basics about the various elements of “Fury”, and they contribute some good information. “Light” just promotes Chronicles of Riddick.
Three components appear under Beyond the Movie. “Slam City” offers a motion comic prequel and it first appeared on the movie’s website. It runs eight minutes, four seconds and delivers a crude affair but it’s moderately interesting.
A Sci-Fi Channel program, “Into Pitch Black” goes for 43 minutes, 55 seconds. Though one would expect a promo show, instead “Into” gives us a semi-sequel, as a bounty hunter chases after Riddick.
It seems cheaply made and not very good. However, it does bring back Diesel for some new work as Riddick and it creates an intriguing effort, even if it doesn’t really work.
Lastly, “Raveworld” takes up 20 minutes, 37 seconds and shows a series of parties thrown to promote the film. Two minutes of this proves tedious, so 20 minutes seems like way too much.
Under Trailers, we find three ads for Pitch Black itself. We also get one each for Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick and the Escape from Butcher Bay video game.
Four Image Galleries complete the disc. We find “Production Stills” (96 frames), “Concept Art & Special Effects” (51), “Storyboards” (181) and “Publicity Gallery” (15). All offer useful elements.
Despite a mix of derivative elements, Pitch Black manages to create enough impact to turn into an enjoyable sci-fi/action flick. Don’t expect anything especially original, but the end result nonetheless works. The 4K UHD brings very good picture and audio along with an extensive collection of bonus materials. This ends up as a strong 4K UHD release.
To rate this film, visit the prior review of PITCH BLACK