Dark City (1998) Review by Glenn Cutforth

Director: Alex Proyas

Writers: Alex Proyas (story) Lem Dobbs (screenplay) David S. Goyer (screenplay)

Stars: Rufus Sewell Kiefer Sutherland Jennifer Connelly William Hurt

Dark City is a dismal place with perpetual night and a population that doesn’t know who they are, and it is a science fiction movie like no other.

Like Blade Runner, it’s a science fiction film noir that takes twists and turns that only confuse — until the very final scene.

At the beginning of the film, John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) wakes in a hotel bathtub with blood on his face and too much confusion. He doesn’t remember how he got there, which is even more confusing when he gets a phone call telling him to get out as The Strangers (a group of weird, bald-headed men dressed in black) are bearing down on him. John discovers why as he finds the body of a very brutalized woman and a bloodied knife — and he doesn’t remember a thing.

Director Alex Proyas has created a dark world that features a twisted, world-changing story that is quite watchable in its twists and turns that takes its time in revealing all the clues that lead to a satisfying ending.

Kiefer Sutherland is a strange doctor that tries to help Murdoch in his search for the truth of his situation. He is forced by The Strangers to inject people with memories that they wouldn’t normally have. This is an attempt by The Strangers to discover what makes the people human — a search for their “soul”.

Their experiments with The Strangers are quite lurid, and they get out of hand with Murdoch as he has attained psychokinetic powers, the same as The Strangers, likely due to his unconscious adapting to his situation. They can’t have that and the chase is on.

Continuously on the run, Murdoch is able to see how The Strangers alter the city’s buildings and landscape as well as people’s identities during the quiet period at midnight, when everything comes to a halt, during which time everyone is unconscious.

Murdoch carries with him a postcard of Shell Beach, which stirs up memories that haunt him and he and Dr. Schreber and detective Bumstead (William Hurt) who believes Murdoch is innocent of the murder, start their search for Shell Beach and discover it’s just a billboard at the edge of the city.

All hell breaks out from there as The Strangers capture the men and try to force Dr. Schreber to add collective memories to Murdoch, but he tricks them by inserting memories that enhance Murdoch’s abilities. Murdoch breaks free and a fight with The Strangers begins.

Rufus Sewell is quite under rated as an actor and here he shines as the plot thickens and he finally breaks free of the strange world he lives in. Kiefer Sutherland is excellent as the creepy, jumpy doctor who goes to great lengths to reveal the truth. Other cast members include Jennifer Connelly as John Murdoch’s understanding wife and William Hurt as a detective who begins to question the reality that is before him as he works to discover the truth.

Dark City is based on a story by Australian filmmaker/director Alex Proyas. It was adapted for the screen by Proyas, English screenwriter Lem Dobbs, and American writer David S. Goyer.

The film won numerous awards around the world including the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Best Film, Best Director, Best Writers, and Best Costumes.

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Glenn Cutforth

Glenn Cutforth is a London freelance writer, author, and movie buff. He can be reached at gcutforth@teksavvy.com

http://www.videogamersoasis.com

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