In depths of space, a passenger ship is hit with debris, slamming through the hull, killing several sleeping passengers and damaging the ship causing it to crash. Pilot Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell) is awakened from cryo-sleep to the disaster and along with her co-pilot tries to save the ship. She jettisons off all the cargo sections but it’s not enough. She decides to lose the passenger section which is carrying 40 some people. The co-pilot tries to stop her but it doesn’t matter. The ship crashes on a planet far from civilization.
Only 11 people survive the crash. The co-pilot is impaled and dies a slow painful death. It seems the morphine has gone missing. The survivors include Abu “Imam” al-Walid (Keith David) and three young men he is escorting to a religious pilgrimage, antiques dealer Paris P. Ogilvie (Lewis Fitz-Gerald), stowaway teenager Jack (Rhianna Griffith), settlers John ‘Zeke’ Ezekiel (John Moore) and his partner Sharon ‘Shazza’ Montgomery (Claudia Black). Then there’s William J. Jones (Cole Hauser) and his prisoner, the notorious Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel). Riddick has had his eyes “shined” so he can see in the dark. As a result he has to wear goggles in the light. The planet that they have crashed landed on is a barren desert like planet. It has three suns and there never seems to be anything but daylight.
As everyone is trying to scrounge up supplies and figure out what to do next. Riddick escapes. Zeke is looking for him when he accidentally kills another survivor whose part of the ship crashed further from the rest. Zeke is on burial duty when something attacks him. Everyone assumes it’s Riddick. They capture Riddick who informs them that they are not alone on the planet. Fry explores the hole that Zeke was killed in and finds alien creatures that live underground and almost get her.
The creatures hate the light which is good because the planet’s surface has plenty of it. The group explores the area and discover an abandoned settlement. The people that lived there seemed to have left in a hurry. They were geologists and dug a big hole into the planet. They also have left behind a ship that the survivors can use. They also find out that a eclipse of all three suns is about to happen leaving the planet in complete darkness. Johns informs Fry that they should wait to the last possible moment to bring fuel cells to the ship in case Riddick tries and uses the ship to escape for himself abandoning the rest. Riddick talks to Fry and mentions that Johns isn’t a cop but a bounty hunter and one with a morphine problem and can’t be trusted. Before everyone knows it, darkness falls and the survivors start thinning out.
Director David Twohy’s first feature film was a sci-fi invasion movie called The Arrival. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t a bad first effort. With Pitch Black he has taken the popular fight for survival against evil aliens and mixed it up by throwing in an anti-hero into it. The success of this has lead to two sequels that follow Riddick on his adventures in the galaxy. But the first is still the best.