Dark City (1998)

Day: January 2nd, Movie: 2

The second day of the Genre-ary Sci-Fi DailyView is underway with a cool sci-fi flick that I had never seen before, starring some big named actors. It was a neo noir film called Dark City and it featured Kiefer Sutherland and William Hurt.

However, the lead star was an actor named Rufus Sewell, who I did not know very well. Checking out his filmography at IMDB, I saw that he had been in several films that I had seen (as well as several TV shows that I had not), but none of them stood out as the “Oh yeah, I saw him in that” memory.

Dark City has a complicated story that grabbed me right away. I was engaged with the central mystery of what was happening and wanted to know the answers. Directed by Alex Proyas (which is a follow up to The Crow), the film is extremely stylish and truly surprising.

According to IMDB, “John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) awakens alone in a strange hotel to find that he has lost his memory and is wanted for a series of brutal and bizarre murders. While trying to piece together his past, he stumbles upon a fiendish underworld controlled by a group of beings known as The Strangers who possess the ability to put people to sleep and alter the city and its inhabitants. Now Murdoch must find a way to stop them before they take control of his mind and destroy him

The film gave me some The Matrix feeling about it, and then I realized that this film came out in 1998 whereas The Matrix came out in 1999. So perhaps The Matrix gave me some Dark City vibes instead.

Kiefer Sutherland gave an interesting performance as Dr. Daniel Schreber. He gave the character several intriguing traits, such as a breathy way of speaking and physical limps that you do not normally see from a Kiefer Sutherland role. Where he falls in the story is one of the key mysteries of the film.

I believe there was too much use of exposition, especially at the very beginning of the film which feels unnecessary. I understand the need for an explanation as you go, but some of the information they presented in the film was shown rather sufficiently using the imagery.

I will say that when the big revel came around, I was surprised. I was impressed by the reveal and, even more so, since the film had been dropping hints throughout about what was going on. I am sure that upon a second watch, you could pick up plenty of clues that would make more sense with the knowledge of what was happening.

Dark City was a well design science fiction tale with some fascinating ideas. The Strangers were creepy and menacing. The film’s look was exceptional with some definite dark tones and creative images. I am not sure how I feel about the third act confrontation (which I will not spoil), but everything else was so strong that I am happy to put aside any minor gripes.

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