Dark City

RATED-(R)-100 MIN-1998 


                                                     You say they brought us here…from where?


                                                      I’m sorry, I don’t remember. None of us

                                                      remember that; what we once were, what

                                                      we might have been, somewhere else.

Sometimes a film comes along and just has everything going for it: Idea, script, director, actors, and the execution of it all is perfect. Together it adds up to something new, exciting, and fulfilling. When a movie accomplishes this, the magic happens. I have always loved Sci-Fi movies, but unfortunately, many of these films are just like the next one..boring and predictable. It happens all the time. My other problem with some of these movies is, that the payoff at the end is unsatisfactory; like the filmmakers don't trust the story, and just want to dazzle us with flash and action. That happens alot in films. Dark City has one the best payoffs or endings I have ever seen in a Sci-Fi film. It makes perfect sense, and is so obvious and poetic you probably will miss it. 

What a wonderful somber, beautiful,with an almost nightmarish feel to it, film Dark City is. If you have not yet experienced this movie by Alex Proyas , I highly recommend that you do, as this should be a blueprint for aspiring filmmakers on how to construct and execute a movie of this genre. When this film came out, I did not know much about it except that Roger Ebert had sung it’s praise on “Siskel and Ebert”, and that it did sound very intriguing. After I saw the movie, I was floored by this smaller masterpiece that did not have the advertising behind it of bigger Hollywood blockbuster titles. Ebert cherished this film, and he was so right.

The first twenty minutes or so of this movie, has so many edit cuts, that creates an uneasy feeling in the viewer. This is done on purpose I think, as Proyas is trying to convey, the same feeling the main character John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) is experiencing in the opening of this movie. We see a city at night, and at the strike of midnight, everyone goes to sleep. If they are walking, they fall. If they are driving, they slow down and stop. Whatever they are doing, they fall asleep. There is an introduction with a narrative by a man that says (The Strangers), who have come from somewhere else, are behind this event. Somehow, they control this city, with the possible exception of one person.

A man wakes up in a bathtub, not knowing how he got there and who he is. There is blood on his forehead and he is naked. Franticly searching for his clothes, he finds some hanging in a closet and a suitcase with initials on and some stuff inside, including a postcard from a place called: (Shell Beach). The phone rings and the man on the other end says that there was an experiment and something went wrong; that men will be coming for him, and he has to get out now. There also is a dead body, of a woman in the room, who was murdered and has strange circles cut into her.

The Strangers do indeed come, and the man, Murdoch runs. As it turns out, There have been a string of murders, and the Inspector on the case, Bumstead: (a very dry and affective William Hurt) is trying to piece them together to find the murderer since his partner has gone insane... they think. Murdoch is the prime suspect, ever though he has no memory of committing these crimes; so he runs. The strangers come.

Murdoch is, it appears,is having problems at home with his beautiful wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly) who sings at a nightclub. She is worried because John has gone missing, and she doesn’t know where he has gone. When things start to lead back to him, John frantically tries to piece to together who he is, and where he came from. There is also a very strange man: Daniel Schreber (a  creepy Kiefer Sutherland), who is a doctor, appears to have some connection to The Strangers, and seems to be doing some odd things in the late of night in the city. The clue of the postcard from: (Shell Beach) becomes crucial, because as the movie progresses, it becomes quite apparent that everybody that he asks, has heard of Shell Beach, but they have no memory of how to get there. When he finally gets on the subway, which should take him to it, there are no trains that actually go there. The police close in, and the Strangers get closer to John Murdoch, running for his life in Dark City .

The Strangers are truly eerie: dressed in long black coats and hats, deathly pale, with the apparent gift of flight, they are out of a nightmare, and they somehow control the city from a machine down below. Their purpose is a mystery, but obviously sinister. They have odd names like: Mr. Book, Mr. Quick, and the leader Mr. Hand (a perfectly cast Richard O'Brien), who is ruthless in his pursuit of Murdoch. I have never seen Rufus Sewell before this, but he is very good in conveying the fear, confusion, and panic that you would expect from a man desperately trying to find answers in this perpetually Dark City.

Part Sci-Fi, part noir mystery, Dark City has to be ranked right up there with some of the best of all time in it‘s genre. What Proyas has done in creating this claustrophobic, thrilling film, with it’s beautiful retro sets, a very good soundtrack, a smart script, and an affective cast, is reinvent in some ways the narrative of filmmaking, by stepping off the collective tracks, in the name of vision. It all works so well, is so engrossing, and as the plot starts to provide answers, you will be truly rewarded with a great film experience that satisfies to the very wonderful end. There are two versions of this movie on the Blu-ray: the theatrical version, and The Director’s cut that removes the narrative from the beginning that Proyas wanted. Watch both, and decide for yourself. I love this film, and You Should See This Movie.

Watch the trailer: http://youtu.be/jSpowoKqSzc