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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars City of darkness
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...
Published on Feb. 22 2007 by E. A Solinas

versus
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. I have to say there is stuff in Dark City I thought Inception lifted and did far better especially the creation of these new worlds where buildings arise and fall at night (in Inception case it's in dreams).

What...
Published on Sept. 4 2010 by Brian Maitland


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars City of darkness, Feb. 22 2007
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Dark City (DVD)
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. Proyas gives all these scenes a creepy feeling, which is only increased by the fact that there are so few people in the streets and houses. Even everyday things like eating soup and going to work become unreal.

But it's also paired with a very suspenseful script, which is equal parts surrealism and gnostic philosophy. All the dialogue is well written ("You know something, I don't think the sun even... exists... in this place"), and very spare. But Proyas makes all the dialogue weirdly disconnected, as if the characters are never really communicating fully. It adds to the dreamlike feeling.

Sewell is well-suited to the role of John Murdoch, moving seamlessly from confusion to skepticism to a pretty wild action scene where he clashes with all the Strangers. Connelly has a good if underused role as his nightclub-singer wife. Kiefer Sutherland is a bit annoying, but he does a good Peter Lorre impersonation with all those nervous gasps.

Like Kafka on acid, "Dark City" is a unique and compelling sci-fi movie, with outstanding direction and an amazing plot. Definitely a must-see.
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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
This review is from: Dark City (Director's Cut) (DVD)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely an improvement, Sept. 27 2009
By 
Amazon Customer (Canada (was London, UK)) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dark City (Director's Cut) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
'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 studio (e.g. excessive narration) and adding a few minutes of extra footage which helps to fill out some of the holes in the theatrical release.

As you'd expect, it looks great on Blu-Ray, and comes with some interesting extras. If you like the movie and have only seen the theatrical cut, I'd certainly pick up this version to see it closer to the way it was intended to be seen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is over before it begins, July 9 2006
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Dark City (DVD)
In a city where the sun never shines and everyone knows the way to Shell Beach but you can never get there, John Murdock (Rufus Sewell) thinks he knows a truth, with his half remember past he now seeks to find out the cities secret.

It appears to be around the 40's and John is thinking of his wife Emma Murdoch (Jennifer Connelly), that now may or may not be someone else.

We are carried along with the story and just might find the secret out before John. Can we handle the truth?

What happens if john finds out how unique he is and whom he may be threatening?

"Dark City" (1998) seems like a short story (both story and screenplay by Alex Proyas "The Crow") with a simple prime that was fleshed out to movie length. The visuals gothic in feel and style will hold you long enough to allow you to enjoy the slow unfolding of the story. Jennifer Connelly seems like she should have been born in the thirty's/ forties as she looks and acts her part so well that you forget you are watching a movie; At times you forget that it is a sci-fi movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the last great films during the 20th century!, July 19 2004
By 
Philip B. Yochim (Louisville, KY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dark City (DVD)
"Dark City" will be remembered as the film that bridged the film noir genre at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.
Alex Proyas directs a suspenseful story on the meaning of reality in a dark, foreboding dream world. As people go about their lives, almost no one notices something is seriously wrong with their world. Until one man wakes up alone, one fateful night.
John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) awakes in a hotel room to find he's lost most of his memories. Even worse, he may have committed a string of brutal murders against local prostitutes. Fleeing the crime scene, he finds himself pursued by not only the police, but also a mysterious cabal of cloaked men.
Assisted by a cowed doctor and a supportive woman who claims to be his wife, Murdoch learns the truth of the city, and its secret Masters, the Strangers.
The feature actors all give strong performances, as a confused Murdoch and a supportive Jennifer Connelly as Emma. Keifer Sutherland is impressive, especially when you contrast the cowardly Dr. Scheber vs. his characters from "The Lost Boys" or "24."
The sets are as compelling as the actors, and credit is due for the deliberate "retro" look of the city. Making of movie of this style look creative guts, and it paid off.
I just beg of the producers of the story one request: don't make a sequel, this story will always stand as a one and only!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumph, July 17 2004
This review is from: Dark City (DVD)
In a city covered in perpetual darkness a group of strange beings known as "The Strangers" attempt to understand what makes us human and identify what the soul is. These strangers change the city and erase peoples memories and assign them all new lives, but one of their specimens also has this unique power. Now he must save the day and prove that he's not a killer.
Much has been said about Dark City. Roger Ebert called it the best movie of 98. A visually stunning sci-fi/noir tale of a man who wakes up with no knowledge of who he is or how he got to where he is. From the opening narration by Dr. Schreber (Sutherland), we learn that is a world that only mirrors our own. The inhabitants are nothing more than guinea pigs for a group of "strangers from another solar system" to study. Schreber knows that Murdoch (Sewell) has the ability to "tune" where he can change things around him by concentrating. The strangers also have this power and use it to change the city and imprint the inhabitants with all knew lives to see what makes us tick. But they must first take care of Murdoch who they in the process of imprinting with the life of a serial killer. Then we meet Inspector Bumstead (William Hurt) and Emma (Connelly), the detective on the case and Murdoch's wife. He must learn who he really is, stop the strangers, and prove he is not a serial killer.
Dark City is a movie that's hard to forget, not only for its visuals but its great story and acting. Proyas (The Crow) gives us more of the same dark and dreary visuals from the The Crow, but in Dark City they are on a grander scale. Proyas delivers visuals with a flare and style all his own. Proyas and his writing team also delivered an original and brilliant story. The acting is dead on here too. Sewell is great as Murdock, Sutherland is amazing as the doctor, Hurt plays the hard edged copy well, and Connelly as usual looks great and is a hell of an actress. Throw all those elements together into an exhilarating comic book type flick and you have Dark City.
What you've heard about this flick is true. Its a masterpiece! A brilliant and beautiful film that you won't soon forget. It's not just a sci fi or a noir flick, its much more. Its a film about what makes us human. Although we are surrounded by darkness, the human spirit will triumph and that's just what Dark City is. A triumph.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Director's Cut, June 11 2009
By 
Cheryl - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Dark City (Director's Cut) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
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. On blu-ray Dark City looks fantastic, and there's too many extras to mention (multiple commentaries, making of's, fact track etc.), but also included is the original theatrical version. It's definitely worth it for any fan.
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3.0 out of 5 stars make it a full year's worth--the 365th review, Sept. 4 2010
By 
Brian Maitland (Vancouver, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dark City (DVD)
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. I have to say there is stuff in Dark City I thought Inception lifted and did far better especially the creation of these new worlds where buildings arise and fall at night (in Inception case it's in dreams).

What doesn't work in this movie is it is too dark--not the theme but the lighting. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the title is Dark City but it is hard to see anything on screen at times.

Also, what is up with Kiefer Sutherland and what seems like his attempt at a Peter Lorre accent?

Felt the story was unique and had legs but the execution of it was, well, the whole thing looked a bit like a made-for-TV movie. I know there are comparisons to Fritz Lang's Metropolis but this movie is not even remotely close to the genius of that man's filmic vision.

To top it off the extras are laughable on this version of the DVD. All we get are notes and still pics. It's ridiculously bad. You may have just sent people to a Web site if you were not going to have a "making of," etc.
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5.0 out of 5 stars In the dark city..., Jan. 24 2008
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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. Proyas gives all these scenes a creepy feeling, which is only increased by the fact that there are so few people in the streets and houses. Even everyday things like eating soup and going to work become unreal.

But it's also paired with a very suspenseful script, which is equal parts surrealism and gnostic philosophy. All the dialogue is well written ("You know something, I don't think the sun even... exists... in this place"), and very spare. But Proyas makes all the dialogue weirdly disconnected, as if the characters are never really communicating fully. It adds to the dreamlike feeling.

Sewell is well-suited to the role of John Murdoch, moving seamlessly from confusion to skepticism to a pretty wild action scene where he clashes with all the Strangers. Connelly has a good if underused role as his nightclub-singer wife. Kiefer Sutherland is a bit annoying, but he does a good Peter Lorre impersonation with all those nervous gasps.

Like Kafka on acid, "Dark City" is a unique and compelling sci-fi movie, with outstanding direction and an amazing plot. Definitely a must-see.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The myth of the ocean, July 10 2004
By 
This review is from: Dark City (DVD)
Imagine a city that is always dark, that lives in eternal night. Imagine its inhabitants that are human beings whose memories have been erased and replaced by some borrowed recollections from other human beings, hence artificial. Imagine that city is being built and rebuilt every-« day » in that eternal night at what corresponds to midnight when everything stops, everyone goes to sleep and forgets everything to regain when waking up a newly arranged consciousness in a newly arranged environment that has been reorganized following the dreams or recollections of some human beings that are not even in this city. Imagine that all this is done by some extraterrestrial species that is testing the human race to see how they live and react. Then this city is nothing but a bubble in the middle of cosmic emptiness. The discovery of the extraterrestrials is that some humans can resist this process and then they stick to some dream of sunlight, a beach, the ocean, etc. And this dream will lead these human beings into breaking the bubble to go beyond this selfcontained city. That's the film. It is interesting but it remains rather superficial : a real human being always wants to escape a limited space or time that is imposed onto him or her.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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