Dark City (1998)

Dark City (1998)
  • Time: 100 min
  • Genre: Mystery | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Alex Proyas
  • Cast: Rufus Sewell, Jennifer Connelly, Kiefer Sutherland, William Hurt

John Murdoch 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.


  • At first it looked a bit dreary and just another detective film but things soon get interesting when the strangers begin looking for the main character. This is the perfect science-fiction movie for those who want a good plot, a fine ambiance and a nice concept. The storyline is really quite good when you compare it to the other stupid alien movies, the revelations during the movie are also satisfying. Not to mention the special effects are over-perfect for a movie released in 1998. Keifer Sunderland is brilliant as the scientist who is bullied into helping the strangers, even though his speech get’s a little annoying it adds to the character. If you liked “The Matrix” than you’d be surprised to see that some of its ideas were actually done in “Dark City”. Not so much an action film, but if you liked “The Matrix” for the sci-fi stuff, you’re likely to like this one as well…

  • “You still don’t understand, John. You were never a boy. Not in this place.”

    One of the most influential science-fiction films of the ‘90s, Dark City is Alex Proyas’ masterwork. He marries outstanding visuals to an ingenious storyline, creating an otherworldly experience that raises the bar for its genre. A primary influence on Wachowskis’ The Matrix (1999), Dark City is the ‘90s answer to Blade Runner (1982), Ridley Scott’s unparalleled vision of the future; one that is gloomy, dark, and upsettingly bleak.

    Proyas’ Dark City is a textbook example on how to successfully make an artistic film with the use of technology and CGI effects. He shows his range with the camera, employing different techniques like tracking shots, wide pans etc. with varying angles to draw viewers into the scene.

    As much as it is an influence to other films, Dark City shares similar traits to the architectural composition of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927). The perfect symmetry and the occasional assorted strangeness of shapes and sizes of buildings and other establishments as they hide in the contouring shadows of each other echo the German Expressionistic style of that era.

    Dark City is a film noir with the main character, John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell), playing an anti-hero or a reluctant savior of sorts in a world that is controlled by The Strangers, a band of struggling survivors who have the ability to stop time and alter reality. Murdoch, framed for murder, is pursued by the local police, as well as The Strangers who want his memories so that they can find the key to unlock the human soul.

    Bright colours are used sparingly when Murdoch recollects memories of a distant past, a striking contrast to the desaturated reality that Proyas has envisioned in his film. The action sequences are not groundbreaking but they give jolts of excitement sporadically, injecting energy to the film which is not at all fast-paced. Dark City does not work as a kinetic action-thriller (we shall leave that to The Matrix); rather it is an exercise in science-fiction exposition and experimental filmmaking.

    There is a tendency in Proyas to overindulge in CGI effects, though in Dark City he does it with some credibility. The climax is spectacular in the good versus evil sense but not so in terms of execution; viewers will be more interested in judging the cheesy effects than being awed by them.

    There is a sequence of Murdoch breaking down a wall in his quest to find the truth about the world he lives in; it then reveals an extraordinary, bold shot of science-fiction grandeur that reflects the very essence that drives Proyas’ ingenuity.

    GRADE: A- (8.5/10 or 4 stars)
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