7.7/10
177,501
661 user 237 critic

Dark City (1998)

Trailer
2:13 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $3.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
A man struggles with memories of his past, which includes a wife he cannot remember, and a nightmarish world without a sun.

Director:

Alex Proyas

Writers:

Alex Proyas (story), Alex Proyas (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
2,148 ( 289)
10 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Gattaca (1997)
Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A genetically inferior man assumes the identity of a superior one in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel.

Director: Andrew Niccol
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law
The Crow (1994)
Action | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A man brutally murdered comes back to life as an undead avenger of his and his fiancée's murder.

Director: Alex Proyas
Stars: Brandon Lee, Michael Wincott, Rochelle Davis
Moon (2009)
Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he, working alongside his computer, GERTY, sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet's power problems.

Director: Duncan Jones
Stars: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott
Equilibrium (2002)
Action | Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In an oppressive future where all forms of feeling are illegal, a man in charge of enforcing the law rises to overthrow the system and state.

Director: Kurt Wimmer
Stars: Christian Bale, Sean Bean, Emily Watson
Mystery | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A computer scientist running a virtual reality simulation of 1937 becomes the primary suspect when his colleague and mentor is murdered.

Director: Josef Rusnak
Stars: Craig Bierko, Gretchen Mol, Armin Mueller-Stahl
Brazil (1985)
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A bureaucrat, in a retro-future world, tries to correct an administrative error and becomes an enemy of the state.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro
Contact (1997)
Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster), after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of extraterrestrial intelligence, sending plans for a mysterious machine.

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt
Mystery | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt
Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In the colorful future, a cab driver unwittingly becomes the central figure in the search for a legendary cosmic weapon to keep Evil and Mr. Zorg at bay.

Director: Luc Besson
Stars: Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rufus Sewell ... John Murdoch
William Hurt ... Inspector Frank Bumstead
Kiefer Sutherland ... Dr. Daniel P. Schreber
Jennifer Connelly ... Emma Murdoch
Richard O'Brien ... Mr. Hand
Ian Richardson ... Mr. Book
Bruce Spence ... Mr. Wall
Colin Friels ... Walenski
John Bluthal ... Karl Harris
Mitchell Butel Mitchell Butel ... Husselbeck
Melissa George ... May
Frank Gallacher Frank Gallacher ... Stromboli
Ritchie Singer ... Hotel Manager / Vendor
Justin Monjo Justin Monjo ... Taxi Driver
Nicholas Bell ... Mr. Rain
Edit

Storyline

John Murdoch awakens alone in a strange hotel to find that he has lost his memory and is wanted for a series of brutal and bizarre murders. While trying to piece together his past, he stumbles upon a fiendish underworld controlled by a group of beings known as The Strangers who possess the ability to put people to sleep and alter the city and its inhabitants. Now Murdoch must find a way to stop them before they take control of his mind and destroy him. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Darkness Falls Soon See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent images and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

Australia | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 February 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dark City See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$27,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,576,953, 1 March 1998, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$14,378,331

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$12,821,985
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Roger Ebert called this movie the Best Film of 1998. He recorded a special audio commentary track for the dvd release of the movie. See more »

Goofs

(at around 60 mins) The cable supporting John Murdoch when he opens the door and nearly falls down the shaft. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Dr. Schreber: [voiceover] First there was darkness. Then came the strangers. They were a race as old as time itself. They had mastered the ultimate technology. The ability to alter physical reality by will alone. They called this ability "Tuning". But they were dying. Their civilization was in decline, and so they abandoned their world seeking a cure for their own mortality. Their endless journey brought them to a small, blue world in the farthest corner of the galaxy. Our world. Here they ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

Here's most of the differences between the 1998 theatrical version and the 2008 director's cut:
  • The opening narration with Dr. Schreber's voice has been omitted in the director's cut
  • A bunch of the shots with John tuning have been altered/replaced
  • A new subplot is added with John's unusual spiral-shaped fingerprints and how he's "evolved"
  • Some of the effects with the Strangers "true form" have been tweaked with
  • The color timing was altered to a more green and yellow tint, compared to the blue and gray tinting from the theatrical version
  • During all of Emma's singing scene's, you can now hear Jennifer Connelly's voice instead of Anita Kelsey's voice from the theatrical version
  • The shots in the opening where it shows the city about to fall asleep have been moved to a later part of the film
  • The opening scene in the bathtub has been extended
  • Some of the shots showing the dead hooker are alternative shots
  • The scene in the lobby has been extended with entirely new shots, including a shot where a lady falls from a phone booth due to her unconsciousness
  • The shot with John leaving the hotel has been extended
  • The shots with the scene when the hotel owner enters John's room and encounters the Strangers have been extended and re-arranged
  • The scene when Emma is in Schreber's office contain alternative shots and alternate dialogue
  • The shots of when we first see Bumstead playing the accordion have been re-arranged and extended
  • Dialogue was added when Bumstead investigates the victim and contain alternative shots
  • Extra dialogue between Emma and Bumstead
  • It's revealed that the hooker John goes to also has a daughter, thereby giving a different motive for his departure
  • Extra shots of when John goes up to the billboard
  • When John is up on the billboard, in the theatrical version he goes through some of the newspaper clippings and continues to stand up while doing so. However, in the director's cut, he sits down after examining some of them looking a lot more shocked.
  • Some dialogue was added at when Mr. Book is speaking to all the other Strangers in their lair
  • Extra dialogue between Emma and Bumstead while in his car
  • Alternative shots and extra/alternative dialogue of when we see Emma get out of the shower and sees John sitting down
  • Extra dialogue between Schreber and Bumstead
  • Extra dialogue between Mr. Hand and Screber plus the addition of shots with John watching the conversation going on between them and John checking out Schreber's bag
  • Extra dialogue between Mann and Frau while having dinner
  • Extra dialogue between Schreber and Mr. Hand
  • When the Strangers have another meeting in their lair, extra dialogue was added and also contain alternative shots
  • Alternative shot of when John sees the newspaper salesmen and remembers that he was also the hotel owner
  • When Walenski confronts John about there being no way out, Walenski has an extra line of dialogue in the theatrical version, "You're not a killer. They set you up with a fake identity, Iike everyone else here."
  • Extra dialogue between Emma and Mr. Hand
  • The scene of when John is looking through photos of his "past" contain longer shots
  • Extra dialogue between Emma and Bumstead
  • A new scene was added showing the dead hooker's daughter hiding under the bed
  • The scene when Bumstead confronts John contains alternate shots
  • Extra dialogue between John and Emma
  • Extra dialogue between John and Schreber along with alternative shots
  • The entire scene with John, Bumstead, and Schreber in the car has been extended with extra dialogue, contain alternative shots, and add a scene where John uses his tuning against Schreber to force him to help John and Bumstead find Shell Beach
  • Schreber gives extra dialogue when explaining why they're in the city
  • A bunch of the shots during the duel between John and Mr. Book have been tweaked with
  • In the theatrical version after the fight, John says to Schreber, "I'm gonna fix things"
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The X-Files: The Pine Bluff Variant (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Le Chale Bleu
Written by François Perchat (as Francois Perchat)
Sung by Anita Kelsey
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
I think Alex Proyas had a stroke of genius in the making of this movie. One of the most original dark sci-fi movies I've seen in a long time.
15 June 1999 | by nitehawk-8See all my reviews

John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) wakes up in an eerie hotel, naked and in the bathtub, with no memories and blood on his forehead. (I couldn't imagine a more strange and frightening experience.) The ring of the hotel phone breaks the silence-- a strange man on the other end tells him he must leave because there are people looking for him. Many events such as this one unfold in Dark City, where "man has no past... and humanity has no future".

Dark City has been passed over by so many critics it's depressing. I think that it should at least have been up for "original screenplay" or SOMETHING at the Oscars to reward Alex Proyas for his fantastic vision. I fail to see why so many people label this movie "noir" like it's BAD or something. Being dark and twisted is not a crime, and despite some other people's comments, this movie is NOT just for the trenchcoat-wearing masses (or if it is, maybe the rest of you can learn something from Goths). If you like sci-fi, dark plots and having reality be so well distorted that you don't realize it IS, so you will love Dark City. (People who have seen the Matrix BEFORE this movie MUST see it, it is very similar in these three respects).

I gave it a 9 out of 10 ONLY because I thought the ending fight scene was a bit weak. Great for a fight scene, but because the rest of the movie focuses on John Murdoch's quest to discover his past and the eerie, ominous happenings in the city, the climax seemed hastily thrown together, as if the crew all of a sudden remembered they had a deadline to meet and could no longer continue the plot in the previous fashion.

The visuals in this movie were absolutely stunning. The effects were NOT used to substitute for the plot, like other movies such as Starship Troopers, Lost in Space and Alien: Resurrection. They were used only as needed and were breathtaking. The editing is NOT as choppy as is rumored, it only lends to the power of the movie. There are some heart-stopping images in Dark City. Watch for the Strangers' clock, views of the city and John's memories.

Proyas takes ideas and ambience from many other movies but integrates them all neatly into Dark City. Gotham City is clearly seen as is Metropolis and other influences such as Ed Hopper's "Nighthawks" dominate in the diner scenes. The forty-ish era (yet strangely futuristic) city is known to be populated, and yet it is ominously empty (hence one of Hopper's main themes, isolation in large cities). (It's especially quiet at midnight, hehehehe... ;D ) This 40's era ambience together with the sci-fi fantasy undercurrent makes for a very interesting feeling while watching.

I'm happy that Kiefer Sutherland, Richard O'Brien (of Rocky Horror fame) and William Hurt agreed to do this movie, it gave Dark City just that much more validation in the USA (I wish things weren't like this, but they are). Kiefer Sutherland is absolutely wonderful and convincing as the doctor/scientist Dr.Schreber, and Rufus Sewell is a properly confused yet determined John Murdoch. Many critics say that William Hurt's character, the detective, and Jennifer Connelly's Emma Murdoch could have used a little more development, but I think part of the point of Dark City was that you don't really know who people are (not to mention yourself). Richard O'Brien and his character's whole race creep me out every time I see the movie, but he's especially frightening and a strange character. I had to resist the urge to talk like a Stranger after seeing the movie a few times.

Trevor Jones, one of my favorite movie composers, did the score for Dark City, and I must say it's very apropo. The deep, bass vocals and frantic themes are some of my favorite aspects, but "Memories of Shell Beach" is a haunting, beautiful song as well. Some of my other favorite scores by him are the Dark Crystal and Last of the Mohicans.

Altogether, I think Alex Proyas had a stroke of genius in the making of this movie. One of the most original dark sci-fi movies I've seen in a long time. It deserves its place with the Matrix, 12 Monkeys and others, pioneers in a field so changed (usually for the worse) since Star Wars and since earlier sci-fi classics. I hope these won't be the last of a (dare I say it?) dying race of movies that have true creativity and originality.


381 of 432 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 661 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed