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Dark City

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All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Dark City

Starring: Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland
Director: Alex Proyas
Rated: R
RunTime: 120 Minutes
Release Date: February 1998
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense


*Also starring: Jennifer Connelly, Richard O'Brien, Ian Richardson, William Hurt, Melissa George, Bruce Spence



Review by Ronchi
3½ stars out of 4

Imagine a world without light, and a life without memories. This is what John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell, Bless the Child, Dangerous Beauty) opens his eyes to, and for a split second believes he's gone mad. Accused of a chain of murders, he flees from his home in search of answers.

A story that gets it's audience to think deeper about life, somewhat like the blockbuster hit The Matrix (Though not as involved as the Matrix, those who didn't like the Matrix should steer clear), it questions Murdoch about his individuality. Murdoch has no recollection of his past, and begins to piece together a puzzle that just may change he lives of the whole city. The city, appropriately named Dark City, is encased in darkness by cryptic creatures called Strangers who's goal is to copy humanity. By halting time at midnight each day, they use a special power they possess called "tuning" and rearrange the city and it's inhabitants. The Strangers shuffle the minds of the humans in the search, and create new lives for each after they play with them as if they are Barbie dolls. Murdoch however is immune to the powers of the Strangers, and when the time is stopped at midnight, he continues to look for answers. Aided by his psychiatrist Doctor Schreber (Kiefer Sutherland, A Time to Kill) who is helping the Strangers behind the scenes, he is given enough information to defend himself/hide from his stalkers.

Pursued by detective Bumstead (William Hurt, The Big Chill), he meets up with his wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind) who is the only one who initially believes that he didn't commit the murders. Connelly does a magnificent job in portraying a confused wife who believes at first that her husbands state of mind is the cause of her affair. Little does she know that this affair never happened, and that her memory too has been changed by the Strangers.

The dream world director Alex Proyas (The Crow) constructed has prison written all over it and does what Batman tried to do. The gothic design of the buildings, low lighting and mellow music sets the mood for this sci-fi masterpiece. Visual effects are anything but few and far apart and create a different perspective on the town itself. Background music is key in the film, and seems to work well at each significant event throughout. Though the effects and music work well together, the major gunfight scenes or action sequences are a no show. It lacks the intensity that should be present considering the story at hand. Nevertheless the questions that are presented leave the viewer little time to worry about the absence of the typical action scenes. Who are we? How important is our past? Would a man who is given a past of a killer continue this way of life? Sewell's roughish looks and inquisitive tone help make the story as dark as it's meant to be. He asks the questions, and finds answers. The only major flaw to the film is the ending, which doesn't really feel like it connects to the story, and leaves the audience with an empty feeling, a meal without dessert.

Dark City is a true example of a vision that is perfectly portrayed, and the wealth of acting skill makes this film a definite worthwhile investment of time. It sticks you in the city and asks you if your life is really just a collection of memories. If you shine a spotlight on Dark City, it's sure not to disappoint.

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