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