1998; Rated R; 103 Minutes
Rufus Sewell: John Murdoch
Kiefer Sutherland: Dr. Daniel Poe Schreber
Jennifer Connelly: Emma Murdoch
Richard O'Brien: Mr. Hand
Ian Richardson: Mr. Book
William Hurt: Frank Bumstead
Bruce Spence: Mr. Wall
Colin Friels: Eddie Walenski
Produced by Michael
De Luca, Barbara Gibbs, Andrew Mason, Alex Proyas and Brian
Witten; Directed by Alex Proyas; Screenwritten
by Alex Proyas, Lem Dobbs and David S. Goyer
by DAVID KEYES
City" is one of the most imaginative and creative films
ever made. It has a futuristic science fiction noir quality
to it that is so appealing and amazing that I walked away
from it with an sense of pure imagination flowing through
me. It is not only a spectacle for the eyes, but also a
story of originality and creativity that blends fluently
on screen with the special effects and cinematography.
is indeed a landmark for director Alex Proyas, as it is
for actors like William Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland and Rufus
Sewell. These are faces we have often seen in mild to mediocre
movies in the past, and here, they finally have the chance
to experience the passion and product of a great movie.
"Dark City" is not only great, but impressive, gorgeous,
intelligent, and so overwhelming that it will remain in
my mind for the duration of my life.
the film is no easy and simple one. It is complex in both
content and characterization. First, picture Sewell's character,
John Murdoch. When he wakes up at the beginning of the picture,
he is in a tub with a bleeding hole in his head, and has
no idea who he is. At the apartment he lives in, he discovers
a dead prostitute, and several other things that he has
no recollection of. He packs up and leaves the apartment
and hotel, going off in search of who he is.
take in Sutherland's character. This is a doctor who is
a traitor to his race. In the first scenes of the picture,
he explains of a crippling humanitarian race which he calls
'the strangers,' and how they expect to regain their humanity
by testing on ours. Dr. Schreber is helping them with their
several experiments, every night at midnight putting the
residents of the city to sleep and moving around their memories,
personalities, city structures, etc., all in the end to
create new situations and new scenarios for the strangers
to experiment on. One person may be a murderer one day,
and the next, a politician--the possibilities are endless,
with the way these people work. However, the experiment
becomes revealed when John Murdoch wakes up during the course
of exchanging and mix-mashing his mental characteristics,
and thus, has an amnesia.
he's more complicated than meets the eye. Apparently, he
wasn't supposed to wake up, but he did anyway, because,
somehow, he has the knowledge and power of the strangers
built inside his complex soul. He can use their power against
them, and use it for his own sake. Being one with no recollection
of what has occurred in his life, he is angry and bitter,
and in no mood to back down from the pale strangers.
Dr. Schreber learns of Murdoch's case, he helps him get
to know how to use his power and how to save the humans
in the city, which, apparently, has no exposure to daylight.
As we learn later in the picture, the city is built on its
own turf and floats in space, nowhere near Earth. It's an
isolated lab for the strangers to experiment.
story sounds like it can come straight out of a comic book,
but with "Dark City," the story is strangely original. Proyas
and two other writers created the script through an entire
original conception, and it was not spun off from any type
of material, other than the material that exists in the
writers' minds. It's the type of story that almost is assuredly
based on comic, but after extensive study, no such story
has ever existed in one.
up original stories in the noirish setting is one difficult
task, as you can tell by watching the movie. It is complicated
and mysteriously complex, all to the point where, if you
take your eyes of the film for one second, you can get lost.
Every moment of your attention must be paid to the movie
as it unfolds, otherwise you may perhaps not appreciate
the quality and effort that movie brings on.
like "Dark City" are the pinnacles of imagination and visual
style--you look at them and wonder, how any human being
could possibly create such breathtaking scenarios and stories.
The movie is not for one second dull and dreary, and never
for one moment a let down.
is a treasure of creativity and vision. Alex Proyas deserves
an Academy Award for treating us to such ambitious originality.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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