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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 24.36%
Average: 8.33%
Pretty Bad: 2.56%
Total Crap: 7.69%

6 reviews, 120 user ratings

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Dark City
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Slyder

"Meet Blade Runnerís distant cousin"
4 stars

Once in a blue moon, certain filmmakers whom are usually not familiarly known or that are known, but not given the attention they deserve will crank out a film that will leave everyone wondering and talking about for several years to come. Alex Proyas is such filmmaker; known at first as the director of The Crow, which ultimately was unjustly (and tragically) known as the late Brandon Leeís last movie. The people that took notice of its lush, dark visuals and rich textures in that movie would have immediately told you that Proyas was someone to watch. Proyas then disappeared for four years to recover from the traumatic shoot from The Crow and to work on his pet project, taking the odd job as a cinematographer while on the side. 1998 saw the release of this little film, a visually astounding meditation on humanity set on a very dark and very creepy world.

Made a year before The Matrix, and you can even say that the Wachowski Brothers took their cues from this film, Dark City is an amazing film, pretty much the Blade Runner of this generation, although its own indulgences and set of rules that it creates for its own imaginative world forces it a notch below that beloved masterwork. Check the plot out: John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) wakes up one night on his bathtub with a small bleed on his forehead. As he dresses up and goes into the room, he finds a woman whoís been grossly murdered. Frightened by that sight and even more, by the fact that he remembers pretty much nothing of how he got there or why he was even there, and by a call from a mysterious Dr. Schreber (Kiefer Sutherland) warning him of certain people that will be coming to get him very soon, he flees the scene. Obviously suffering from amnesia, John tries to piece up his life from square one while in the meantime trying to evade capture from cunning but pensive detective Bumstead (William Hurt). But John realizes that not only the Police are after him. Certain ďbeingsĒ with pale faces and long fingers who do not resemble any human at all are also after him for what he has, which is something that he yet doesnít know what it is. His ex-wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly) canít understand his behavior, especially towards her, and questions his sanity. But as time passes, John realizes that she and almost everyone in the city are just a mere part of something more sinister which heíll have to find out soon before itís too late.

First thing that will strike you as you enter this film is the visuals. Itís clear that director Proyas (who also co-wrote and produced the movie) and production designer Patrick Tatopolous (Stargate, ID4), not only studied Laurence G. Paullís majestic visuals in Blade Runner. They decided to use them as a blueprint and make it their own. The result is a bleak, nihilistic 60ís type of a setting, complete with film-noir influences. The kind of setting which youíd expect Humphrey Bogart and Edward G Robinson pop out in any second, only with an eerie and futuristic mix of technology and advancement which gives it a very nightmarish feel that fits the movie perfectly. Itís very dense, and like Paullís own sets in Blade Runner, the film at times tends to collapse itself under the weight of its own visuals, only this time for more concrete reasons.

As soon as John runs for it in the opening scenes, the film feels very rushed and it is hard for us to know what exactly is it thatís going on. The editing is furiously fast and it hinders the film a bit since it contributes to the confusion as to what is going on with the main characters and doesnít give us the right amount of space to breathe in whatís going on. Itís only about a third of the way through or so in which the film finally slows down enough for us to digest what we are seeing on the screen. The reason for this could possibly be due to the very rules that the film establishes. The film recurs mainly to the theme of memories, and as time passes it becomes the filmís main focal point that will lead to the plotís ultimate conclusion. As we know, memories form a big part of our own self, and without them, we would lose our sense of identity. But itís this theme that leads us to the central target of the movie. Are memories what make us human? Or our actions? Our thoughts? What is it that ultimately creates this whole that we call soul?

Itís because of this theme of memory that the film sags a bit on character development, as all of the characters in this film are like mere cartoons streaking around in this gloomy scenery, each one trying to find a raison díÍtre to continue their existence, or so they think. At the same time however, it is this mysterious blip (which in the movie it is given the name of ďtuningĒ) as well as those weird non-human aliens and their sinister headquarters they have below the city that will draw our attention.

The acting is top notch. Rufus Sewell (whom I know very little of, and thatís probably a good thing regarding this movie since it gives his character an ďeverymanĒ type of quality) is excellent as John Murdoch, the troubled ďoutlawĒ that has something special within himself that he has yet to discover. Kiefer Sutherland shows some pretty impressive quirks as the weird and mysterious Dr. Schrebel. William Hurt shows his usual stoic self, while Jennifer Connelly is really effective as the confused but in-love Emma, who looks like your typical 60ís femme fatale. The rest of the casts, namely the aliens, are simply scary as hell, especially Richard OíBrienís Mr. Hand, who suddenly develops an obsession for John himself.

I could talk more about the film, but that would be spoiling it. Ultimately, you have to see this film with your own eyes to fully understand it and capture the full visual fest. That alone makes this film worth viewing, but this film isnít your typical style over substance film. Thereís some good meat to be found and to be chewed on, and it surely reflects on our lives and our society very prominently. Kudos for Alex Proyas in creating this modern nightmare of a movie and making it work; to make such ambitions work, you really need to have strong foundations. And this film for sure has them; at least for most of them. Truly a film greater than the sum of its parts; highly recommended. 4-5

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originally posted: 12/19/06 21:46:51
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell intriguing visionary sci-fi cribs a bit from the outer limits 4 stars
1/17/15 Dane Youssef A unique vision of epic grandeur. It has to be seen, to be experienced. Let it fill you. 5 stars
3/17/14 Lyle Deep. Like a kiddie pool. Story makes no sense. A mishmash of stolen ideas and styles. 2 stars
3/01/13 sean one of my top 3 movies of all time. simply brilliant. repeated viewings required. 5 stars
8/21/11 Chris Stopper Edward Hopper meets David Lynch 5 stars
2/02/11 Dr.Lao The most creepy, haunting, nightmarish movie I ever enjoyed 5 stars
8/18/10 AJ Muller Just a classic, truly visionary and fantastic. 5 stars
4/22/10 H.C I found this much more enjoyable than the Matrix. It was scary, thought-provoking, 10/10 5 stars
3/30/10 Jean-Noel G One of my favorite movies. Less dumb than, say, transformers. I understand some won't like 5 stars
1/16/10 Brian Welch The reviewer mistakenly believes that his stupidity is shared by others 5 stars
11/23/09 Jeff Wilder Underrated. Watch it a few times to truly understand it. 5 stars
11/07/09 inchoate Edward Hopper meets Raymond Chandler; what's the prob ? 5 stars
8/23/09 One Have just seen it twice on DVD. It's a powerful movie, if you do get it. 5 stars
6/20/09 Thomas Rob gonsalves is obviously an idiot, this is one amazing film 5 stars
3/02/09 roffe Bizarre, great film. Doh, it is meant to be dark. Not flawless, but intriguing and unusual. 4 stars
1/09/09 Des D A very fine film best enjoyed soot free but definitely not for tree swingers. 5 stars
11/26/08 Leo T worst movie since First Knight 1 stars
8/19/08 zubidoo Roger Ebert picked this movie over Saving Private Ryan? Are you effing serious? 2 stars
7/24/08 chris f very oveer rated 3 stars
4/05/08 Adam Panto The spiral narrative starts at the center tight, spinning to the climax at the outside edge 5 stars
1/07/08 Michael Sluder I like it better each time I see it. And not many movies can pull that off. 5 stars
11/20/07 D Outstanding and Extremely Creepy 5 stars
8/25/07 emma terrible, extremely unrealistic, i defy you!! analyze it carefully & you will understand. 1 stars
6/16/07 mb Empty Dark With A Bit Of Likeableness 3 stars
5/28/07 Mark Louis Baumgart Complex andl pretty unique film despite the intellectually lazy trying to pigeonhole it. 5 stars
5/15/07 Nabi Makes the matrix seem naive. Brilliant performances with lots of intrigue and shock. 5 stars
3/31/07 fools♫gold For the first time in years, it actually took me two tries to fall in love with it! 5 stars
3/17/07 man no match for the Matrix 4 stars
1/13/07 del Rob and're both completely clueless. Stay that way. 1 stars
12/23/06 Carrot_Glace A cheap BLADE RUNNER rip off, BLADE RUNNER is WAY better.... 1 stars
11/20/06 Derek K Best Film Ever! Underrated and Brilliant! A Must See Sci-Fi Mystery! 5 stars
5/30/06 doga capanoglu dont miss 5 stars
5/07/06 Reklc Intriguing, haunting, dark in short excellent! 5 stars
4/30/06 Vicious Very original, predating the matrix with the artificle reality concept. Great art style too 5 stars
4/19/06 chris f an exellent sci fi flick very enjoyable and very interesting 5 stars
10/02/05 Nicole Fantastic movie...there is not enough good sci-fi! 5 stars
8/11/05 ES The end is so worth it, Better than the Matrix? you bet=cool on 5 stars
7/18/05 lucius gabriel mind blowing 5 stars
6/11/05 Joe Criteser One of the best sci-fi films I've ever seen. Period. 5 stars
5/26/05 Jake Brilliant! Better than the Matrix, and I love that Movie! 5 stars
5/01/05 Anthony G Wachowski niggas trying to take from the white man! 5 stars
3/27/05 indrid cold If the Wachowskis ripped them off, at least they made a way more entertaining movie. 3 stars
2/23/05 Rock-Steady The original masterpiece. Suck a dick wachowski fagboys! 5 stars
2/09/05 Jeff Anderson THE MOST VISUALLY AWESOME FILM OF MY LIFE! Sutherland & Connelly give smashing performances 5 stars
11/13/04 Moira Memorable, hauntingly atmospheric, just great! 5 stars
9/13/04 Phil Richards This movie rocked, but my Mom didn't like it. She didn't understand. 5 stars
9/05/04 DM Not very thoughtful, but gee, it sure is nice to look at 4 stars
7/21/04 Patjng nice... very nice.. 5 stars
7/18/04 Gray mesmerising and haunting 5 stars
7/12/04 X One of the best 5 stars
7/12/04 bobber liked it, better than most crap on the screen 4 stars
7/04/04 Luiz Gilberto de Oliveira Messias Better than Matrix, this underated movie is one the best sci-fi than i saw in my life. 5 stars
3/17/04 PAYNE_KillerZ Even though Tim Burton should've directed this, at least Keifer Sutherland's in it!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/11/04 T^im It mostly rules, but not perfect... 4.5 stars 5 stars
11/18/03 Lenka Bunova It is just perfect! 5 stars
10/25/03 Al Baston This was the first DVD I ever bought, my wife my son, everyone but me hates it, I love it. 5 stars
7/28/03 KevinProv It's what sci-fi was meant to be. Not just flash, but substance and thought as well. 5 stars
3/19/03 Jack Sommersby Great visuals; sorry-ass script. 2 stars
2/14/03 john The Matrix Hollywood ending was pathetic and didn't probe the questions this movie did. 5 stars
12/14/02 Zefram Mann Mindbendingly cool shit from the guy who brought us The Crow. 5 stars
10/18/02 Jiz Fuck Matrix, Dark City came first. Who ripped off who? 5 stars
10/02/02 John McNew A mind-bending, eye-popping, suspenseful, and exciting sci-fi masterpiece! My favorite! 5 stars
9/23/02 Vitality1 I really loved this movie. A good scifi movie from the last decade...for once! 5 stars
8/05/02 Lexy Z. A sci-fi movie that evokes thought? Weird, but worth it. 5 stars
4/30/02 Col Mind blowing - the best of sci fi - a landmark film 5 stars
4/13/02 oldgoatmon Poor mans matrix. Seems people like to say they like it more cause not many have seen it. 3 stars
3/29/02 Jim Cool and creepy 5 stars
3/02/02 Alan Smithee One of the best sci/fi-thrillers of all time. All hail Jennifer Connelly!!!! 5 stars
1/28/02 Andrew Carden Bizarre, but Excellent Thriller. 5 stars
12/29/01 Mad Max Fuck blade runner. This rocks the socks off blade runner! 5 stars
12/02/01 Monica O'Leary I loved the film - I have always liked Kiefer Sutherland's acting - he is a versatile actor 5 stars
10/18/01 officer412/l the most underated film of all time. pure genius 5 stars
10/04/01 Phoenix Underrated and offbeat, Dark City was a unusual and stimulating experience for me. 4 stars
8/21/01 P.Rodriguez loved the concept of the movie, just like blade runner the ending(DCUT)Leaves U wondering 5 stars
7/28/01 Steve Creepy atmosphere, very different, highly underappreciated, ending a bit Outer Limits-ish. 5 stars
6/30/01 Matthew T. A suberb hybrid of science fiction annd film noir. A true cinematic accomplishment! 5 stars
6/25/01 Matt Dorsey On par with the best sci-fi movies, such as Blade Runner, Dune, Matrix. See this. 5 stars
6/22/01 Jasmine Roger Ebert sucks Proyas's dick. 1 stars
6/13/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Underrated personified 5 stars
5/20/01 Milan Todorovic Alex Proyas is a genious!! 5 stars
4/12/01 YelloMiata@AOL.COM I think I played a video game version on my NES in 1988. 3 stars
3/31/01 Jesse L Twisty plot and not too bad! 4 stars
3/25/01 Monster W. Kung Minor flaws, but overall a very nice movie experience. 4 stars
1/30/01 R.W. Welch A shade too dark and overwrought to be watchable 3 stars
1/29/01 Soggy Bottom Boy very satisfying experience, best sci-fi movie of the turn-of-the-century. 5 stars
12/24/00 joh best mindfuck I ever saw 5 stars
11/14/00 The EVIL Penguin a Good movie with a mind-bending plot 4 stars
9/27/00 mephetic By far the best movie I've ever seen. 5 stars
9/25/00 The Bomb 69 totally underrated and original, kudos!! 5 stars
8/20/00 effendi the best sf, metaphysic and played movie ever made 5 stars
7/31/00 Trevor Vos why don't movies like this win oscars? 5 stars
7/01/00 Purple Monster I enjoyed this more than "The Matrix". 5 stars
6/13/00 DAVID Awsome movie and this movie was underrated!!! 5 stars
4/16/00 JDC Are we more than the sum of our memories? Not sure, but this film made me think about it. 5 stars
3/21/00 Peter A visual masterpiece, need to see multiple times. 5 stars
1/02/00 Nice Guy Eddie Excellent even on multiple viewings... great imagery and atmosphere... 5 stars
11/20/99 Alyssa Excellent and unpredictable. Watch it more than 3 times and you still say, "Wow." 5 stars
11/19/99 the Grinch Very creative way to celebrate passover, TAJ. I can relate to your Connellyisms... 5 stars
11/19/99 The Velvet Edge So tell me, TAJ - how do you feel about Jennifer Connelly? Freakboy... 4 stars
9/24/99 KK A great movie that hardly anyone knows about. 5 stars
8/10/99 Ted Wetzel A very unoriginal movie that rips off everything from Batman to Star Trek's Borg. 3 STARS. 4 stars
7/21/99 Eric Helps to watch this multiple times; storyline needs to be simple to fit the POINT. 5 stars
6/14/99 Lashan Lynn This was an increadble movie! Very, VERY dark! 5 stars
6/02/99 Greg Richard Very underrated film, thought it was excellent 4 stars
4/15/99 JDC Great movie, derivative ending. Powerful images too. 5 stars
4/07/99 unstrung suprised the hell out of me, realy. this movie had a pretty good storyand looked very nice 4 stars
3/15/99 Go Swans The best film ever, visually 5 stars
2/19/99 Mr Film Great concept... Very entertaining. 4 stars
2/18/99 Bishop Not bad, overhyped though. Ebert's best film of 98'. 3 stars
1/11/99 Johny One of the 3 best films of 1998 5 stars
1/05/99 Movie Geezer quite a challenge---a very deep film 4 stars
1/03/99 Dasha Why is everyone complaining about the storyline? The movie was great! 5 stars
12/31/98 Chaplin1 Visionary work...WAY underrated! 5 stars
12/20/98 Bats Rufus Sewell: ooh, aah, neat, pretty (and the movie was out of the ordinary, too) 4 stars
11/07/98 grunter Mix two parts Brazil & one part Truman Show; visuals too morphic, conventional ho-hum end 4 stars
9/20/98 MR HOLLYWOOD One word "AUSTRALIAN" , please keep clear of this depressing,dull thing!!! 1 stars
9/16/98 Trav Not bad at all for a "Sydney" movie. :ř 4 stars
9/06/98 J Lyons Love Jennifer Connelly. Wish she was in a good movie. 2 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball Rufus Sewell is a crank, but otherwise this rocked. 4 stars
8/15/98 {{{OZ}}} It's aussie, so it has to be better than most 4 stars
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  20-Feb-1998 (R)
  DVD: 03-Feb-2004


  06-Aug-1998 (M)

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