Posts Tagged ‘David Twohy’

Look out ‘Below’: World War II submarine action meets ghost story in fun but flawed genre mashup

December 6, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 6, 2013

I have a love-hate relationship with horror films.

From a very young age, I’ve always found scary movies to be absolutely terrifying. Once, as a child, my family went to visit my Aunt Gussie and Uncle Paul’s apartment in Queens, and some kind of monster movie was playing unnoticed on a TV in my line of sight. Every time I looked at the screen, I was overcome by a wave of foreboding, and my heart would start racing. I would look away and soon calm down… But I couldn’t resist redirecting my gaze toward the TV, even though I knew it would upset me.

At some point — I think as the scene reached its climax and the monster (Frankenstein’s?) finally unleashed some kind of rampage — my mother or someone else noticed my abject terror, and either the channel was changed or the TV was shut off or my attention was actively redirected or I was moved to another room. (Yeah, it was definitely one of those things.)

Even to this day, I don’t watch a lot of scary movies. One of the few I saw at a relatively early age was Alien, and the only reason I watched it was that it belonged to the science fiction genre, which I found all but irresistible in my younger days.

Still, sometimes I just want to be scared without being totally revolted or terrified. Over the past year or so, I found a way to channel this impulse: By reading scripts for scary movies.

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An efficient, intriguing and gorgeous ‘Riddick’ almost lives up to the high standards set by ‘Pitch Black’

September 30, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 30, 2013

In 2000, writer-director David Twohy helmed a modestly budget science fiction actioner named Pitch Black. The film, made for $23 million, starred Vin Diesel as a violent criminal named Richard B. Riddick who is stranded along with a handful of other people when their commercial transport crash-lands on a backwater desert world.

The tautly paced 109-minute movie begins with the thoroughly harrowing crash. Every subsequent bit of the story chronicles the castaways’ battle for survival — a struggle that sometimes pits them against each other even as the group must face down swarms of malevolent predators that soon emerge from their new surroundings.

Riddick, a violent and menacing presence whom a lawman named Johns struggles to contain, is the dark heart of Pitch Black. But to its credit, the film — co-written by Twohy along with Jim and Ken Wheat — is populated with several other fascinating characters. Viewers are not only entertained by the action sequences but intrigued by the task of working through just what is happening on the planet and by puzzling out just who among the survivors might be trustworthy.

Pitch Black was followed by a 2004 sequel, Chronicles of Riddick, another collaboration among Diesel, Twohy and the brothers Wheat. I’ve only seen this film in parts (much in the same way as I initially became familiar with Pitch Black), but I know it works a much broader canvas. The film dispatches its antihero to at least two different worlds and pits him against a villainous horde intent upon conquering the universe.

Chronicles of Riddick, which was made for about quintuple the budget of Pitch Black, opened to a lukewarm critical reception and reportedly made back only about half of its budget.

For the recently opened Riddick, Diesel has reunited with Twohy, who this time goes solo on screenwriting duties. The new movie has a scaled-down story and budget (just $38 million) in comparison with its predecessor. It looks stunning, efficiently cranks up the tension and delivers reliable thrills, but unfortunately, it lacks some of the zip of the original.

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