Dark City Review
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A year before Neo started exploring The Matrix, John Murdock searched for answers in Dark City, the eerie sci-fi thriller by writer/director Alex Proyas (The Crow, I, Robot).

One night, Murdock (Rufus Sewell) awakes in a hotel bathtub, near the scene of a gruesome murder. He can’t remember how he got there. He can’t remember who killed the girl in the other room. In fact, he can’t remember anything.

A strange phone call reveals that Murdock’s memory was accidentally erased—and that people will be coming after him to fix the problem. So Murdock runs—but he doesn’t know where to run or what he’s running from.

Before long, Inspector Frank Bumstead (William Hurt) is on his tail, eager to charge him for six murders. He keeps running into a woman claiming to be his wife, Emma (Jennifer Connelly). There are mysterious strangers in dark coats who seem to be trying to control him. And the only people who claim to know what’s going on are a crazy ex-cop and a fidgety, paranoid man who introduces himself as Dr. Shreber (Kiefer Sutherland).

  
 
If you loved the pleasingly puzzling sci-fi philosophies of the Wachowskis’ The Matrix, you won’t want to miss Dark City. It may not have the fancy fight scenes or the high-tech flash of its younger cousin, but it’s every bit as complex and visually stunning.

The focal point of the film is its carefully constructed story. It’s one that will pull you in from the beginning—and leave your head spinning in the end. In the middle, it’ll keep you guessing. It’ll answer some questions, and it’ll pose even more. And you’re sure to keep pondering its mysteries and philosophies long after the closing credits roll.

The film’s dark and haunting story is appropriately complemented by its dark and haunting atmosphere. The city has been plunged into endless night, and, as a result, most of the film takes place in dark alleys and grim, lifeless buildings. It’s eerie and austere, yet it’s also strikingly beautiful and undeniably artistic. At times, its stark, surreal style will remind you of any number of recent movies that were inspired by comic books and graphic novels—like Sin City—only without the hype and flash. In fact, the film’s imagery alone makes it worth seeing—yet there’s much more to it than just a bunch of pretty pictures.

Dark City is a smart sci-fi thriller—complete with creepy imagery and a complex story. It’s the kind of movie for which one viewing just isn’t enough. After watching it, you’ll want to watch it again—and you’ll be able to put more of the pieces together with each additional viewing.


DVD Review:
Whether you’re new to Dark City or you’ve seen it a thousand times, I recommend checking out the newly-released director’s cut. In the Proyas-approved version, the much-maligned opening voiceover is gone, and a few scenes have been added back in. Fortunately, though, this isn’t another long, droning, drawn-out director’s cut; it’s only 11 minutes longer than the theatrical version.

The DVD also features three additional documentary features, including an introduction by Proyas, and three (yep…three) commentary tracks—including one by critic and Dark City fan Roger Ebert.

So if you’ve worn out your copy of The Matrix, try paying a visit to the Dark City. It’s one trip you won’t soon forget.

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