Pitch Black 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 251, August/September 2020

WSR Score4
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Arrow Video
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David Twohy
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DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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When mechanical failures cause the crash landing of a spaceship on an abandoned planet, the surviving passengers—including a policeman (Hauser) and his prisoner (Diesel)—must learn to adjust to the harsh realities of their new home. This planet has three suns and no night, but every few years there is a total eclipse, and that's when the scary bad guys come up from under ground and devour everyone in sight. The prisoner—a convicted murderer—suddenly comes to their rescue to lead the group back to their ship away from the scary guys because he has these really freaky eyes with which he can see even when it's "Pitch Black." (Laurie Sevano)

Special features include commentary with Director Co-Writer David Twohy and Actors Vin Diesel and Cole Hauser; archive commentary with Twohy, Producer Tom Engelman, and Visual Effects Supervisor Peter Chiang; the featurettes "Nightfall: The Making Of Pitch Black," a new interview with Twohy, "Black Box: Jackie's Journey" new interview with Actor Rhiana Griffith, "Black Box: Shazza' Last Stand" new interview with Actor Claudia Black, "Black Box: Bleach Bypassed" a new interview with Cinematographer David Eggby, "Black Box: Cryo-Locked" a new interview Visual Effects Supervisor Peter Chiang, "Black Box: Primal Sounds" a new interview with Composer Graeme Revell, "The Making Of Pitch Black," and "Pitch Black Raw." Plus 2004 archival features: "An Introduction By David Twohy" (SD 02:25), "A View Into The Dark" (SD 4:06), "The Chronicles Of Riddick Visual Encyclopedia" (SD 02:18), "John's Chase Log" (SD 77:12); Peter Chung's animated film "The Chronicles Of Riddick: "Dark Fury: Advancing The Arc" (SD 01:30), "Slam City" motion comic, "Into Pitch Black" TV special and Raveword: Pitch Black Event; My Scenes; U-Control features with Picture In Picture and side-by-side comparisons.

The 2.35:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10/Dolby Vision picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally and sourced from a 4K master Digital Intermediate format. Picture quality far surpasses the previous 1080p VC-1 Blu-ray picture. As discussed in the audio commentary, Cinematographer David Eggby used filters in front of the light sources, instead of using red or blue filters on the camera lens, then made an unprecedented decision to bleach-bypass the original negative—as opposed to the interpositive. In normal cases, when an interpositive is bleach-bypassed, the process is visually done to enhance blacks (as in "Se7en"), and every scene is affected. Eggby and Director David Twohy wanted an overexposed, radical look for the exterior scenes only and scenes on the spaceship and during the eclipse to be processed normally. Colors are vibrant and balanced in the normally processed scenes, while appearing surreal and beautiful in the bleach-bypassed scenes. Fleshtones are perfectly natural. Lighting was weighed heavily during filming because, during the eclipse, the only light on the planet would originate from whatever the space travelers had available (flashlights, candles, or fiber optics from the spaceship). Backlighting was used during the rain sequences, but most of the time blackness fills the backgrounds. And black, black, black, pitch black it is—so incredibly so and dimensional during the eclipse of the suns. HDR contrast is excellent with bright three-sunlight intensity, deep black levels and fine shadow imagery. Flashlights and a cutting torch intensify the excellent spot lighting effects. Resolution is superb. The picture is impressively sharp and finely detailed, with crisp details and impeccable clarity. The alien planet under the yellow and red suns is an amazingly engrossing picture, as are scenes when the blue sun rises. WOW! segments are throughout. For an optimal picture experience, a blackened home theatre environment and a display devise capable of extraordinary native contrast is required to fully appreciate the visual intensity of "Pitch Black." This is a visually stunning picture on all accounts. (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is very well produced, with excellent fidelity. The exceptional low-noise floor and dynamics deliver an impressively satisfying sonic experience that is an integral part of the film's entertainment. Much of the scenes are accompanied by soundfields that have balance toward the screen, and in most cases this seems appropriate, given the settings inside the spacecraft and on a solitary planet. The directionalized surrounds are generally engaged moderately, but effectively. Phantom center surround communicates a rather effective layer of eeriness to being in the dark, surrounded by vicious creatures. The surround channels are also used for some of the POV sequences of creature screams, some interesting sweeps across the surrounds, and as well, to enhance the perception of peripheral dimension. Bass output is prodigious, deep, impressively clean, and occasionally challenging with sub-25 Hz extension capability from all channels. The dialogue is certainly noteworthy, with a comfortable presence and remarkable spatial consistency. The music is also to be commended, consisting of an excellent recording, with a sweeping rhythmic presence in the soundfield that is just slightly wanting in terms of surround envelopment. This is an exemplary film audio production that delivers first-rate sound quality. Putting the soundtrack into the Auro-3D Immersive Sound mode really heightened the holosonic® spherical sound dimensionality for a far more engaging experience. (Gary Reber)