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Dark City is a tremendous undertaking for the viewer, and it scores well.
if there were no such movie as The Matrix, I'm sure I would have enjoyed
more thoroughly. This film of course predates Matrix, but nevertheless it
touches on a great deal of the material that Matrix illustrates so
The premises of the movies are, at their core, the same - that reality is
all what it seems. But while the Matrix picks its implications - for
in this film the relationship among wife and family are paramount, in
they are completely ignored - here the plot bogs down around the wife, the
steely investigator, and the main character. At the same time it fails to explain enough about the strangers or their perplexing abilities, and leaves keifer sutherland to carry much of the life of the movie. Visually it's grand stuff, and I have always admired Proyas>
I suppose I would have enjoyed this movie more had I not seen The Matrix prior to seeing DARK CITY. Though it is kind of a physio/biological version. It still gives a person something to think about concerning the true home of our personality/character and the true meaning of reality (so very subjective). If I did not have any memory of smoking cigarettes, would I have a difficult time not being a smoker? Same for drug addicts. I just think what would happen if this process of implanting memories is realized. It was very comic bookish, something I still have a hard time getting used to (same reaction to BATMAN movies). It was good though, but I should have seen it first.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After looking at the rating and reviews I chose to watch this movie
thinking it was going to be a classic under the radar. Unfortunately it
was a quite poor, barely watchable , low budget sci fi.
I really can't believe how shallow, and heartless the acting is, the main character doesn't change his face expression throughout the whole movie, I fact no one does. Another really annoying thing was the scientists weird almost stutter, where he pauses between his words for no apparent reason and doesn't add anything to his character. Just annoyance for the watcher. On top of the poor acting, the special effects , make up , costumes are equally as poor, especially for a film in the 90s, I've seen better effects in the 70s!
The story itself could have been an interesting concept, but it's all spoilt with the poor camera work, poor editing,poor acting and effects. I asked myself at least 5 times should I turn it off but I watched until the bitter end and watched the poor ending of the film too.
I don't really need to write a plot as plenty of others have done that, but not one character acts well or is believable in the movie, it's all in all just a bit to silly.
What you have to remember with this film is that it is a few years before The Matrix, which you have to acknowledge, but that is where any sort of comparison ends. The sets are great and at the beginning of the film the direction and the mood seems to be promising. Unfortunately, you soon learn the film is badly mis-cast. Rufus Sewell, is unlikeable, Jennifer Connelly does not seen to have a clue what is going on and Kiefer Sutherland is the worst offender, with a daft voice playing the role that should surely have gone to an older actor. Infact, I think Kiefer whould have done a much better job in the lead role, I think he could have done the paranoid thing justice. The plot is baiscally about a group of aliens called "the Strangers" who have come to our planet to experiment on humans to see what makes us tick, changing daily situations overnight. One highlight is Richard O'Brien who is excellent as Mr Hand. The movie rambles on with Rufus trying to figure out what is going on, but by the end you just don't care. It's a shame because you feel this was bit of a labour of love for the director, but the casting is just so wrong.
Dark City has a fantastic, well thought-out plot, in a vaguely similar vein to that of The Matrix.
However, there was very little insight at all in this film, except for the notion that human beings are defined by their souls, and although this formed the underlying thesis of this film, it never really felt like the film was geared to its analysis in a coherent fashion.
The pacing of the action was also too hectic, and as a result no scenes in the film really stand out in memory.
It seems that the creative talent behind Dark City was not focused; the film is a jumbled mixture and does not hang together very well. Characters like The Inspector ultimately added nothing to the film, and one wonders at their inclusion.
However, the film is worth seeing for the ingenuity of the plot, and Kiefer Sutherland's terrific performance. 6/10
A series of impressive effects in search of a coherent storyline. All too convoluted and self-consciously odd for its own good, and very derivative of other films - there are bits of 'Blade Runner', 'Barton Fink', 'Metropolis', 'The Hunchback of Notredame'... and I defy anyone to see the flying 'Strangers' without thinking of demented Uncle Festers with the powers of Mary Poppins. Almost a saving grace are the performances - the actors have managed to stifle giggles so well that we believe that they believe in all this claptrap. And then there's the beautiful Jennifer Connelly. But as I said - these are only 'almost' saving graces.
Movie critics, horror and science fiction fans fell over themselves fawning for this film while mainstream audiences stayed away in droves. For once I agree with the mainstream. Dark City is an overblown and highly unoriginal peice of genre filmmaking that really grates on one's nerves after awhile. Much was made over the film's "highly original" look which is laughable in the extreme. Dark City rips it's visuals off of Brazil, Blade Runner and most importantly the Hellraiser films. The Hellraiser rips are so blatant that I'm surprised Clive Barker and company didn't sue the filmmaker's for appropriation of copyrighted material. There is not one original bone in this film's flabby body. That could be exscused had director Alex Proyas crafted something good out of it but he didn't. The final nails in the coffin are the unlikeable characters. You simply do not care one iota for any of these people. Their plight does not raise your interests and you don't care whether they live or die. Characterasation is nill. And what is with Keiffer Sutherland? A usually fine actor turns in a sniveling, rat like performance that ranks as one of the worst in years. What happened? Blame director Proyas. If he is determined to direct films from his own ideas them he must first let his imagination catch up with his knack for camera movements. The Crow signaled the coming of a major talent. Dark City sees that talent go down in flames.
I sat down to watch this film (Director's Cut) with my girlfriend just
last night. I've seen it numerous times, but I was curious what her
reaction to the film might be.
It's hard for me to talk much about DC itself without giving much away. It's one of those films that's best appreciated when going in with no knowledge of the film at all, for Dark City will throw you some ingenious red herrings, some delightful moments of foreshadowing and some jaw-dropping twists throughout its running time.
As I expected, for the first 20 minutes of the film, she seemed genuinely uncomfortable with it. Those rapid cuts, the vague production design that gives no specific idea of time or setting, the slowly growing impression that you're watching a detective thriller and then *BAM* - the first twist hits, and you have no idea what you're watching again.
That is ingenious, edge-of-the-seat film-making.
Dark City is marvellous. It takes the viewer on a journey quite unlike anything I've ever seen. And all a year before The Matrix came along and scooped up all they credit (they even used the same sets!)
The acting here - while having received some criticism - is all top notch in my book, and by the time the credits roll, you'll be amazed at the total transformation the characters and story have made since those opening shots. It has suspense, action, mystery, horror, romance and pretty much everything in between. The only negativity I could draw attention to is the weak final fight, which feels like it needed more budget to become fully realised.
She seemed quite surprised as the film came to a close with those beautiful sunny shots that contrast so starkly with the rest of the film. Dark City was actually pretty damn good.
Frankly, after reading all the glowing user comments regarding this film, I find myself wondering if I'm the only one who actually watched the entire movie. The first 3/4 of this movie are highly entertaining and engrossing, but sadly the last quarter is a total let-down. The ending is unoriginal and mundane (everything the first 3/4 are not). Consider yourself warned.
I have been seeing raves about "Dark City" ever since it was released. For
some reason, it strikes a real chord with a certain demographic of society
that tends to hang out on movie mailings lists and the like. The same folks
that love every single "Star Trek" film tend to rave about it. It's always
nice to see a film find its audience.
So, I finally saw the dvd (just the film, no commentary) last night. I was neither impressed nor let down. "Dark City" is a solid science fiction film that tells a dark (in several ways) tale with a fair degree of understatement. I personally prefer such films. I would rather see an unpretentious, low-key film that draws me in unexpectedly than catch the latest Julia Roberts all star extravaganza. Different tastes for different folks. Some people don't go for the whole "subtlety" bit. I do.
The most striking thing about the film is its look - which isn't particularly original. It has a 1940s noirish feel to it. Cross "Blade Runner" with "Brazil" and mix in a dose of "Batman" and you get the idea. Not particularly compelling after having seen it several times before, but very competently done.
Our hero, Rufus Sewell, awakes in a strange room and finds his life is suddenly going to pieces. Nothing is what he thought, everything is a mystery without clues. It is your "Twilight Zone" standard plot #43. You half expect him to wind up on the train to "Willoughby." Nothing wrong with all that - but I've seen it before. But, again, competently done. It kept my interest, if not my rapt attention.
"Dark City" then devolves into your standard "man must figure out what is going wrong with the world" series of plot twists. Does he solve the mystery? Don't they always? Does he put things right? What do you think?
I'm not down on the picture, it just isn't anything that special. The striking Jennifer Connelly is completely wasted, as usual, though she gets a goodly amount of screen time and shows off her astonishing facial profile at every opportunity. She does have a tendency to seem a bit blank at times, but as virtually the only female in the film, she is quite a sight for sore eyes.
I can't quite figure out how Rufus Sewell was cast in the lead, as he has trouble expressing the extremes of emotion that the character must be feeling. Too bad he and William Hurt didn't swap roles.
Hurt is the real bright spot, acting rings around everyone in sight (unlike in the previous year's "Lost in Space," where he never really found the character of John Robinson, but more in keeping with 1983's brilliant "Gorky Park"). The rest of the characters provide good background filler, especially one particular creepy kid actor (who does a much better job than any of the young proto-actors in "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone").
Kiefer Sutherland does a fabulous job with his diction. He has the William Shatner thing down cold. Aside from Hurt, he is the only lead who really seems to inhabit his character. He is one of those characters who you are never sure about, until the end. If he were a little more of a physical presence here, he really would have shone on the dark city. He plays the character as so overly cowed, though, even when he might not have to be, that he seems to recede into the shadows. The character unnecessarily loses focus. Missed it by "that much," Kiefer.
But for the Hurt character's Sam Spade gig, I'm left with the feeling that all I saw was an above-average SciFi Channel made-for-tv movie. The fx were good (shape-shifting buildings) - but not particularly memorable. Some visuals were quaint (the beach poster) - but hardly enough to build a film on. The secret of the city was let out too early, blowing the suspense and forcing the film to rely on a hokey "Masters of the Universe" type of ending which consisted - I kid you not - of the good and bad guys glaring at each other.
A nice film. Worth a 6/10. Not in the league of "The Matrix," though.
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