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A 1998 science fiction film directed by Alex Proyas.

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The city without light - the director's cut

  • Oct 1, 2008
A $28 million budget art house film that features several actors who have now ascended the ranks of stardom beat The Matrix to the punch in presenting many on screen concepts that questioned what it is to be human. Very underrated, constantly drifting on the edge of obscurity, Dark City is a magical film that transcends many levels of modern filmmaking with questions of human nature and interactions.

The story follows John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) who wakes up in a bath tub at the scene of a murder where he soon finds himself pursued by a mysterious group of black clad, pale fleshed men lead by Richard O'Brien (you may know him as the creator, writer, and co-star of the midnight screened, all-time cult favorite musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and John must receive aid from a man claiming to be his doctor (TV's 24 star Kiefer Sutherland). Discovering that the black-clad men (referred to as Strangers) control all that is within the city it is up to John to discover the secret of the city, the Strangers, and why the city never sees daylight. To do this he must discover the location of Shell Beach; the place everyone knows about, but no one seems to remember the directors to. In the process he'll have to face the strangers, discover the secret to the eternal night, and the true extent of the Stranger's plans for the inhabitants...then he must find the strength hidden within him to free everyone from the stranger's hold.

Dark City has over the past 11 years become a cult-favorite, starring actors who have risen in status in recent years, starring film-cult-figure Richard O'Brien, and being the immediate follow-up of director Alex Proyas' critically acclaimed adaptation of The Crow (which starred the late Brandon Lee who died from a technical accident during filming) and Proyas continues to dazzle with low-budget visual flair in this film-noir masterpiece that earned the title of being Roger Ebert's top film of 1998. Alex Proyas may be used as a corporate tool now, having his style severely cut back by studio control (see: I'Robot, and Knowing, both of which are severely different than Proyas' original ideas) but Dark City remains a great film that shows what a dedicated director can do with limited budget and limitless imagination.

DVD to watch: I strongly recommend the director's cut over the theatrical cut, not so much because of content, but because the pacing of the director's cut is infinitely superior to that of the theatrical cut.

The director's cut DVD also comes with commentary tracks by director Proyas and film critic Roger Ebert (essentially the last audio track the critic did before cancer took his voice) both of which are very insightful into the story of the film (okay both gave commentaries for the theatrical cut as well, but these are even better). Proyas of course gives more technical facts when commentating while Ebert (as the critic) is more on noting Proyas' visual choices and story points. Both are must sees for fans of this film!

"Sleep now~"

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July 11, 2011
nice review. The DC was indeed a better film imho.
More Dark City (1998 film) reviews
review by . May 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I once read a story by Philip K. Dick - I can't remember the name of it for the life of me - in which a large organization would periodically stop the world and a team would go in and make adjustments, changing little this-and-that details around. The people in this world had no idea this was going on.     Dark City operates under what is kind of this same concept. There's a group of people who live under the ground. When the clock strikes, they put everyone to sleep, go out, …
Quick Tip by . December 29, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
I thought about this movie a little more, and it's actually worse than I initially thought.      Thanks to the extremely hokey acting (Kiefer Sutherland's Peter Lorre impressions alone will make anyone cry tears of blood), bland characters, totally non-scary villains, silly plot devices, and liberal ripping off of elements from movies like Akira, Total Recall, Metropolis, Batman (the 1989 movie), and The Addams Family, I was nearly bored to the point of falling asleep …
review by . July 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I heard about this movie several years back and it looked pretty interesting and I was fairly impressed by the large amounts of positive reviews it got, and luckily for me, I found the whole movie on YouTube, so I didn't even have to invest one dollar at the local Family Video. I finally found the time to watch it about a month ago and boy was this a deplorable flick.      STORY      The story for Dark City is that John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) finds himself …
review by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
It's difficult to describe Dark City without giving anything away.  Really the only way to give a review of Dark City is to describe the after shock.      It's one of those films that completely engrosses the viewer until the credits roll and then you are left just completely baffled by what just happened to you.  You sit and think on it for a while and just say "woah" out loud and realize you have watched a masterpiece and the only thing you can do …
review by . December 17, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
The Strangers attack Murdoch...
When it comes down to it, a large part of who we are comes from our collective experiences, from our past, from our memories. But what if our memories weren't our own? What if all of our experiences were generic? What if our pasts had been manufactured? Would it then be possible to manipulate us through our memories? Luckily, no one has that power... or do they?          John Murdoch awakens to find himself naked and vulnerable. He has no memory of his past or of his …
review by . July 17, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Jennifer Connelly all too briefly…     Cons: Pretty much the whole rest of the movie.     The Bottom Line: Some may find Dark City’s brooding underpinning palatable but the movie left a very unsavory taste in my mouth, one I am not keen to repeat.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot. Okay I will make an admission at the start of this review; the only reason I decided to watch Dark City (1998) …
review by . January 06, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Truely one of the best Sci-Fi movies of all time. Beautifully brought to life by the entire cast. What can I say, everything is perfect. Top director, superb camera work, great lighting, good actors. If you haven't seen this movie before and you like new ways of looking at the adventure/sci-fi genre with a philosophical twist, this one is for you. You need to have this in your collection. You won't get bored, not even after watching it for the 12th time.
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About this movie


Dark City is a 1998 neo noir science fiction film directed by Alex Proyas. It was adapted from a screenplay written by Proyas, David S. Goyer and Lem Dobbs. The film stars Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland, and Jennifer Connelly. Sewell plays John Murdoch, a man suffering from amnesia who finds himself accused of murder. Murdoch attempts to discover his true identity to clear his name while on the run from the police and a mysterious group known only as the "Strangers". Dark City asks the question of what it means to be human, and explores the relationship between memory and personal identity in an attempt to answer it.

The majority of the film was shot at Fox Studios Australia. It was jointly produced by New Line Cinema and Mystery Clock Cinema. New Line Cinema and New Line Home Video commercially distributed the theatrical release and home media respectively. The studio was concerned that the audience would not understand the film and asked Proyas to add an explanatory, voice-over narration to the introduction. The film premiered in the United States on February 27, 1998, competing against James Cameron's blockbuster Titanic. Dark City performed poorly at the U.S. box office during its initial release and received mixed reviews.

Following its screening in wide cinematic release, the film was nominated for the Hugo and Saturn Awards. With the help of Roger Ebert and home screenings, the film has since become a cult classic. In the years since its...

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Director: Alex Proyas
Genre: Drama, Film-Noir, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Release Date: February 27,1998
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: July 29, 2008
Runtime: 100 minutes
Studio: New Line Cinema
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