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A 1998 science fiction film directed by Alex Proyas.

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Tune In... or Fall Out!

  • Dec 17, 2008
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?
The Strangers

John Murdoch awakens to find himself naked and vulnerable. He has no memory of his past or of his own identity. The only thing he knows is that he's lost in a mystery, a mystery that only deepens when he finds a dead woman's body in the hotel room where he is staying. He quickly dresses himself and checks out (wouldn't you?). But things only become more complicated when eerie people begin to pursue him, accusing him of the murder. Soon he comes face to face with a startling realization: every night, at midnight, the world stops and time is frozen. During this nether hour people's memories are altered, the city literally reconfigures itself and alien beings known as "Strangers" control everything. But John Murdoch has powers too. Will he master them before he is destroyed? Will he use them to liberate the dark city or to enslave it further?

Director Alex Proyas (The Crow) creates a gothic, expressionist metropolis in this mind-bending thriller. He utilizes his strong sense of visual direction but also creates an intriguing tale of identity. The issues touched upon are timely. What makes an individual? Do people control their own fates or are we slaves to a higher power? Can mankind redeem itself? Is time just an illusion? What makes Dark City so unique is that it raises serious questions but, for the most part, leaves the answers to the viewers. It's interesting to note that this film came out about a year before The Matrix popularized thought-provoking sci-fi films.
The doctor...

Some critics have complained that the acting is stiff (which it's meant to be), while others panned the film for simply being too bizarre (which is why I love it). Regardless, it's obviously a misunderstood film.
Rufus Sewell as John Murdoch
As for the acting, the performances recall old noir films from the 1940s. Rufus Sewell, William Hurt and Jennifer Connelly would all be right at home in an old-fashioned detective movie. Kiefer Sutherland, on the other hand, seems to be a combination of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Victor Frankenstein. As for the Strangers, they seem to be an offshoot of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers' drones with a little Darth Vader thrown in for good measure. The acting is appropriately awkward as none of the characters are fully realized. This is because they are drones programmed and reprogrammed every night, never allowed to evolve or develop into fully conscious and psychologically mature human beings.

The screenplay was written by Alex Proyas, David S. Goyer (The Blade Trilogy & Batman Begins) and Lem Dobbs (Kafka).
Dark City (New Line Platinum Series Edition)
The original DVD release features both Widescreen & Full Screen versions of the film, two audio commentaries, numerous essays and reviews, etc. Also included is a hilariously BAD game, Find Shell Beach, which features some of the worst video graphics I've ever seen. But overall if you dig freaky fantasy films, dreary detective tales or surreal sci-fi then Dark City should appeal to you.

Just after writing this review, I became aware of an upcoming director's cut edition that will be available July 29, 2008. This means that there will be two different versions available in the retail market. Although I have reviewed this version of the film, I also suggest giving the new edition a try.
The Strangers attack Murdoch... Beneath the Dark City... The last detective... Jennifer Connelly Kiefer Sutherland

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September 20, 2009
I finally saw this for the first time all the way through. Before that I'd only seen bits and pieces. Took me long enough didn't it?
September 21, 2009
Did you like it or not?
September 21, 2009
Oh yeah, I liked it.
September 21, 2009
Did you realize that it was Richard O'Brien (the guy who wrote and starred in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show") playing Mr. Hand? I cheered the first time I saw it and he came on.
September 21, 2009
I guess I'm supposed to be impressed, right?
September 21, 2009
What, you weren't? I thought you loved RHPS...
September 21, 2009
Not me. I've gone out of my way to avoid it. My daughter's the big fan.
September 21, 2009
No "Time-Warp" for Queenie, how sad! <: (
September 21, 2009
I'm perptually stuck in my own time warp. I don't need to sing and dance about it--unless Shah Rukh Khan comes up with something.
September 21, 2009
Oh, but we all wanted to hear you sing!
September 21, 2009
As soon as I can afford a copy of OM SHANTI OM I will play it with Hindi subtitle--oops. They probably won't be romanzied. There goes that idea. I really want to learn the lyrics to "The Pain of Disco" I go around humming it all the time. I might have to break down and buy the sound track just for that song. The you can hear me sing.
September 21, 2009
Seriously, you'd post a video or audio clip?! Wow, you're brave. I once tried to get a punk band started but quickly realized I couldn't even sing in front of my own reflection, much less in a room with living people. Stage fright's a career killer.
September 21, 2009
I couldn't if I wanted to, don't have the equpment. But you could hear my happy toneless voice all the way up in Maine if I ever learned that song. It would really carry. Sort of like a sonic boom, only more painful. Singers run in my family--they generally have to.
September 21, 2009
Because of the torch-carrying mob behind them?
September 21, 2009
And the pitchforks. Don't forget the pitchforks.
September 21, 2009
Or the rakes and hoes or shovels. Sometimes I think that there was a farming supply store in those movies that set up shop not for farmers but rioters! Were they after monsters or fresh produce? X-)
September 22, 2009
First one, then the other.
September 22, 2009
I suppose hunting down monsters would likely increase one's appetite.
September 22, 2009
A logical explanation.
September 22, 2009
Makes you wonder what the monsters eat after having been chased around for so long... maybe nice tasty villagers' children, which only perpetuates the entire thing becuase then the villagers are really pissed.
September 22, 2009
Or maybe they just eat pretty little flowers.
September 22, 2009
No, those get thrown in the lake, along with the cute little girls.
September 22, 2009
A flavorful soup perhaps.
September 22, 2009
No, that gets dumped on Peter Boyle's crotch. Oops, that's the spoof version.
September 22, 2009
But first you have to make the soup, then you spill it.
September 20, 2009
I need to review the stellar director'cut! Unfortunately I don't own this release and I've forgotten several key scenes in the theatrical release to really make a good comparison. I do know the director's cut has a different opening in a way... nice review.
September 21, 2009
I've yet to buy the director's cut, but I do know that they left out the opening narration that Proyas felt was unnecessary and that they put Jennifer Connelly's original singing back in (they dubbed it in the original version with someone else's voice).
More Dark City (1998 film) reviews
review by . May 17, 2011
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 . October 01, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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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