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Dark City [Import]

Rufus Sewell , Kiefer Sutherland , Alex Proyas    R (Restricted)   VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (361 customer reviews)

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If you're a fan of brooding comic-book antiheroes, got a nihilistic jolt from The Crow (1994), and share director Alex Proyas's highly developed preoccupation for style over substance, you might be tempted to call Dark City an instant classic of visual imagination. It's one of those films that exists in a world purely of its own making, setting its own rules and playing by them fairly, so that even its derivative elements (and there are quite a few) acquire their own specific uniqueness. Before long, however, the film becomes interesting only as a triumph of production design. And while that's certainly enough to grab your attention (Blade Runner is considered a classic, after all), it's painfully clear that Dark City has precious little heart and soul. One-dimensional characters are no match for the film's abundance of retro-futuristic style, so it's best to admire the latter on its own splendidly cinematic terms. Trivia buffs will be interested to know that the film's 50-plus sets (partially inspired by German expressionism) were built at the Fox Film Studios in Sydney, Australia, home base of director Alex Proyas and producer Andrew Mason. The underground world depicted in the film required the largest indoor set ever built in Australia. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars City of darkness Feb. 22 2007
Cult films don't come much more groundbreaking than "Dark City" -- it was bending reality before the Matrix ever did.

At first glance, Alex Proyas' movie seems like a basic sci-fi little-man-against-evil-aliens flick. But it isn't. Instead, it's a dark grimy nightmare where nothing is what it seems, and everything we think is real is just an elaborate illusion. This is one of the rare films that is creepy from start to finish.

The Strangers are pasty-faced, bald, leather-coat-wearing aliens (think Darth Vader, post-mask), whose survival depends on somehow imitating human souls and dreams. So they created the Dark City, to observe and manipulate the unwitting humans.

Our hero John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) wakes up naked in a tub, with no memory of who he is, and the police hunting him for brutal murders that he is sure he didn't commit. And worse, hes being pursued by the Strangers, without even knowing who they are or why they're after him.

And then he starts seeing past the Strangers' illusions. Buildings are reshaped, people's memories change, and the sun never appears. As John searches for hints to his past, he finds that the places he knew never existed -- and it's connected to the Strangers. Now John and a suspicious cop will unravel the truth of the City -- and of why the Strangers want John.

It's not surprising that "The Matrix" and "Dark City" are often compared. They deal with an illusionary "real" world, malevolent manipulation, and one man who might be able to stop the bad guys. But "Dark City" is very much unique -- it's dark, angular, and haunted, like if Fritz Lang made a sci-fi noir.

The Dark City is a pretty creepy place, like a... well, like a city at night, with some surreal skyscrapers, big cogs and giant clocks.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few things you should know about 'Dark City' March 12 2010
By A Customer
The Amazon editorial review implies this film is all style no substance, but that is untrue. Although a lot of effort went into the style (partly in homage to Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis') the darkness here is no mere plot device, it is a metaphor.

The 'dark city' is an elaborate device created by a soulless race of aliens (who all look like John Gielgud, perhaps because they "use our dead as vessels") as part of a giant experiment to find out what makes humans IRREDUCIBLE (i.e. the part of us that can't be measured or quantified - our souls). 'Dark City' is clearly influenced by Gnostic spirituality, with its concept of a demiurge who has trapped us in a materialistic 'circle of circles'.

The film is tightly scripted and packed together, with extremely fast camera shots (like British show 'The Prisoner', with which it has much in common), and more than one viewing may be necessary to understand the plot in its entirety.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Sci-Fi! Sept. 23 2013
By Steff66
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I saw this movie in theaters in 1998 & it still looks good today; good mystery & climax...Combination of neo-noir thriller & science-fiction...At this price=worth it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Most interesting topic May 31 2013
By tornitons TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
I liked very much the idea of the experimental world and how and why the extra terrestrials manipulate the humans. It's so utopic, but still logical in its own way. The actors and the characters are OK, the tempo of the movie is appropriate as of the secrets you learn when you follow the poor guy that doesn't know who he is, what is his past and how he can use his new powers. He must figure out everything with so little help. Very captivating and if you let the idea in your mind, you begin to understand how desperate those people are and there is obviously no solution to their trouble. One thing is sure is that they are humans, still hoping for something (what?) and are certainly unwilling to be told what to do or even think by those that captured them and make experiments on them. I really like that kind of pure fiction. Well done. p.s. what exactly is the idea behind the little bad boy dressed like an adult that follows the killers all the time: he is completely meaningless... Still give it a five stars anyway.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great movie made even greater Jan. 1 2013
By Gregory
Dark City is a 1998 film which I never saw in the theatres but grew to love on television. Next to Blade Runner, Dark City is my favourite science fiction flim. It looks like it is part Blade Runner, part Metropolis and part Nosferatu all rolled into one. From an artistic point of view, the sets are simply incredible to look at. The limited lighting in this film is as important as the use of shadows to create a noir atmosphere which is perfectly suited to this story of a man who awakens not knowing who he is and finds his life constantly in peril. The acting is also first rate from every member of the cast. This Director's Cut contains an extra 15 minutes of footage not seen in the original DVD version and it makes the film even better. Almost all of the extra footage is extensions to present scenes and they all help the story. The special features could have been better with segments on the artwork and design and commentary from all of the actors in the film instead of just two. I found myself getting bored listening to the director, screenplay writer and Roger Ebert rambling on forever and sometimes it felt like they were trying to come up with things to say for the feature. If you haven't seen this movie I would definitely recommend it and if you already have the older version on DVD, like myself, it will not be a waste of money to buy this Director's Cut.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars dark city
this is one amazing movie. i would recommened this to everyone and i was shocked how fast it arrived at my home,.
Published 14 months ago by darlene mcnamara
1.0 out of 5 stars Missed the mark
This is one of those movies that in more skilled hands could have been something special. Unfortunately the dialogue was dreadful in parts, the scenes were poorly constructed, the... Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2011 by Mark
3.0 out of 5 stars make it a full year's worth--the 365th review
You can read opinions elsewhere as there are 364 of them as I write this. Saw this for the first time in whole in 2010 after Inception came out. Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2010 by Brian Maitland
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment
The theatrical version of this film is one of my all time favorite. The directors cut only adds 11 minutes and that 11 minutes diminishes a great movie. Read more
Published on July 3 2010 by George Allanson
4.0 out of 5 stars Love this movie - Why is it twice as expensive as the US Amanzon...
This is a great great movie. I agree with the other two poster's who commented that the director's cut filled in some gaps of an otherwise great theatrical release, making this a... Read more
Published on March 24 2010 by A. Keenan
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely an improvement
'Dark City' has always been an interesting but flawed movie, and this Director's Cut fixes a lot of those flaws with the removal of a few changes forced on the director by the... Read more
Published on Sept. 27 2009 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark City was really good, the Director's Cut is great.
Dark City was really good, the Director's Cut is great. One of the few times (like Alien 3) where the Directors cut makes a huge improvement to the film.
Published on Sept. 8 2009 by Bill F. Armitage
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Director's Cut
Though I liked the original version, I'm a super-fan of the Director's Cut. The story is more coherent and overall the film is just so much better. Read more
Published on June 11 2009 by Cheryl
5.0 out of 5 stars In the dark city...
Cult films don't come much more groundbreaking than "Dark City" -- it was bending reality before the Matrix ever did. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2008 by E. A Solinas
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