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A 1998 science fiction film directed by Alex Proyas.

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Time to tune the world, Mr. Book

  • Nov 14, 2008
  • by
Dark City is an extremely interesting experiment of blending futuristic settings with an oddly 1940's style of society. Its dark atmosphere surrealistic imagery contain murky allusions of dread and foreboding, making a visually stunning treat for the eye.

John Murdock (Rufus Sewell) awakens in a bathtub in a strange place, and staggering from his seedy hotel room sees a murdered woman lying on the floor. But John has absolutely no memories of who he is or why he was in the room. Even stranger is the fact that when he emerges from the hotel, the entire city has stopped moving and everyone but him is asleep.

With John having already fled the scene, Inspector Frank Bumstead (William Hurt) arrives to investigate, noticing that though there is a dead body in the room, the killer saved a goldfish from a shattered bowl, placing it in water before he left. Bumstead has inherited the string of murder cases from fellow cop Walenski (Colin Friels), who has gone mad and been dismissed from the police force.

Also looking for John is Doctor Daniel Schreber (expertly played by Kiefer Sutherland), who reluctantly works for `The Strangers', peculiar pale and bald guys who run around in Pinhead/Hellraiser type costumes. The Strangers have the ability to `Tune', shift the shape of any material matter, and Dr. Schreber has discovered that John Murdock has mysteriously developed this ability also.

With his memories gone, Murdock tries to discover the truth behind who he is, believing that he will find the answers at a place called Shell Beach. The only problem is, there seems to be no way to Shell Beach, and Murdock realizes that it seems to always be nighttime. Murdock convinces his wife Anna that something is wrong, and along the way enlists the unlikely help from Inspector Bumstead, all the while running from The Strangers and trying to avoid the bizarre Dr. Schreber. The Strangers are looking for the human soul because their breed is dying, and believe that the inhabitants of Dark City hold the key to their immortality.

Dark City is indeed a dark movie, any dark sci-fi/fantasy fan will appreciate the atmosphere and spectacular special effects in this edgy, creepy film. Kiefer Sutherland and William Hurt give excellent performances, Sutherland performing especially well as the lazy-eyed, limping, breathless, haggard looking Dr. Schreber.

I liked The Strangers, even though they were a bit of a crossbreed between `Hellraiser' and `The Hidden', with slimy jellyfish things coming out of their heads at times. I loved the special effects and the overall sinister feeling presented in the mood of the film, but the ending left me feeling a little let down and...well...cheesy.

On a special note, simply because my mind is sick and twisted, I had a couple of laughs in this dark movie, produced strictly from associations my warped little mind made. With The Strangers all having names like Mr. Book, Mr. Hand, Mr. Quick, Mr. Sleep, Mr. Rain...I kept waiting for Mr. Hat to pop up, from South Park. I couldn't stop envisioning that.

Also, when Emma Murdock sings `Sway' at the very beginning, I had to pause the DVD from laughing so hard at the memory of the hilarious scene in `Out To Sea', when Brent Spiner was singing `Sway' while Walter Mattheau and Rue McClanahan did their hilariously funny dance. The Creep indeed. (chuckle)

Overall, Dark City is great movie for horror or sci-fi fans that adore gothic style darkness combined with strangely modern or old-fashioned visualization, interwoven with some nice action scenes and great effects. Enjoy!
Dark City

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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 …
Quick Tip by . March 05, 2011
This is the great cult classic that movies like "Inception" strives to be like...
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 …
Quick Tip by . June 12, 2010
Loved it
Quick Tip by . August 20, 2009
A surreal and exciting blend of noir and sci-fi, Dark City is a compelling and sometimes disturbing thriller with an awe-inspiring climax.
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 . 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) …
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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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