Some sci-fi stories just aren’t captivating, even though most things about them make it feel like it should. Vin Diesel No black is a lesser-known, but at the same time fairly well-known sci-fi film released in 2000. Despite generally poor reviews, Vin Diesel’s work in this film has been hailed as one of his best. This film was going to give rise to multiple sequels, successful video games and even a few comics. Despite all of this apparent success, the sci-fi franchise never really found a place in people’s memories.
Directed by David Twohy, No black was freed in February 2000 and tells the story of the dangerous criminal Riddick transported to prison in a spaceship. The crew soon find themselves in trouble, but after comet debris damages the ship and forces them to land on a seemingly barren desert planet. Riddick escapes, but after the crew learn of the dangerous creatures that only come out at night, and with an imminent eclipse on the horizon, Riddick teams up with the crew to fight for their survival.
This idea of a stranded team battling unfamiliar obstacles isn’t inherently unique, but the film executes that idea with gorgeous visuals and solid playing from most of the cast. While Diesel’s Riddick is admittedly a bit similar to some of his other characters, that was the actor’s leading role. For his first lead role, Diesel’s acting sells the character and cements the character a lot in this world.
Worldbuilding is another aspect of this story that works exceptionally well. While the story begins quite familiarly at the most difficult sci-fi stories, a prisoner aboard a shuttle to his prison, when they arrive on the planet, this is where the scale of this story really takes. root. A world that has eclipses and terrifying creatures only come out at night is a wonderfully terrifying idea. It places all the characters on rough terrain, some are more trained for this threat than others, and forces the formation of unlikely allies.
The looming eclipse deadline also adds a sense of danger and finality to the story. The likelihood that the crew will make it alive if they don’t find a way to leave the planet before the eclipse is intriguing and exciting. When the night of the eclipse finally arrives, the story turns into a mad race to escape.
With all of these interesting elements, why hasn’t this movie grown in popularity? The most common way No black, and its aftermath, were shared by word of mouth. This is probably because in the early 2000s movies saw an evolution towards more grounded and hardened stories. While No black seems to fit that very well, the sci-fi aspects are what might have turned people away from this story. Without the sci-fi aspects, a hard-R story about a criminal saving a shipwrecked crew has legs in time.
It wasn’t until later that sci-fi movies started to gain popularity again and this underrated gem began to find its place. At this point, however, there were already several other big sci-fi hits to compete with. This tendency to narrowly miss the mark would unfortunately continue for the franchise. At the time of the sequel’s release in 2004, the general public just weren’t familiar enough with this franchise. When Diesel wanted to make a third film, in 2013, he had to finance a large part of the film himself. This led to Diesel mortgaging his house, obtaining loans, and spending a large chunk of his own money to complete the film.
Based on this evidence, it looks like Riddick’s biggest fan is Vin Diesel himself. Diesel has long said in interviews how much he is a fan of the character, but that he has to go to a very dark place to play him. Following the release of Riddick in 2013, Vin Diesel’s friend and Fast and furious co-star Paul Walker has tragically died in a car accident. This hit Vin Diesel pretty hard and put Riddick’s fourth film back indefinitely, although Diesel is sure to release at least once a year, as the promise that the fourth film is still on the way. A recent social media post even mentioned that he had met a “team” and that the fourth film, titled Riddick 4: Furya, could be coming sooner than fans think.
Although it is not certain that the public will ever see another in the Chronicles of Riddick franchise, there will always be the original to convince fans. No black is a great mix of sci-fi and brutal realism that unfortunately seems to have come out a bit too early to find mass appeal. Despite this, it’s definitely worth a watch for fans of more grungy sci-fi stories, and worth revisiting for fans who are already familiar with this rough diamond.
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