…and I don’t remember a thing. I know that not everyone likes science fiction, but if you like thrillers, mysteries, or even tragic romance, then you should definitely watch this film. Dark City (1998) is a film about a man that wakes up to a blank memory and a murdered woman but as he tries to figure out what happened in that room he gets into some very strange territory. Without disclosing too much information, it turns out that there are some very influential beings called “Strangers” that have the ability to stop time and move around memories between people. What I find extremely cool about this film is that it offers up an amalgam of tons of other science fiction and dark films from history. There are elements of films from the horror films of German Expressionism like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu while maintaining nuances of mystery like M and even engaging in science fiction features like those found in Metropolis and Blade Runner. As a matter of fact, I feel like this film was made with Blade Runner in mind considering how similar the main characters seem to be.
I can’t place my finger on it, exactly but there is something underlying the main character, John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell), which makes him very similar to Rick Deckard from Blade Runner. No matter what it may be that I see in the character, I should tell you that the acting is not too bad, I don’t think that anyone deserves an Oscar mind you but I also don’t think anyone deserves a Razzie. There were a few things that got my attention though, like Sewell’s one giant eye. I don’t know if that was intentional on the part of the director, Alex Proyas, or not because Kiefer Sutherland’s character, Dr. Schreber, also has an eye that seems to be scarred. If this is intentional then this offers some interesting parallels between the characters and I must say that the directing abilities of Proyas in this film are extremely good. He has also directed The Crow and I, Robot with plans to direct Paradise Lost which sounds oddly interesting, doesn’t it? Another bit of acting that got on my nerves after a while was at the hands of Kiefer Sutherland. The way he makes his character speak is as though he has terrible asthma yet we never see him with an inhaler and an asthmatic would definitely need an inhaler in this city.
There are other actors like the great William Hurt and the just as great Richard O’Brien, as well as Jennifer Connelly who plays a jazz singer who in all honesty can’t really sing very well. I’m not as mean as Simon Cowell but I’m glad that Connelly didn’t try a triple-threat career after making this film. Also, something about Connelly that I haven’t really liked in the majority of her films is that she tends to play the same character with a different name. What I mean by this is that she does not seem to have a very wide range. I’m not sure if this is because of being typecast as this particular kind of woman that always appears to be needy of the affections of whoever the main character is. Whatever the reason is for why she continuously plays these roles, I wish she would try to expand her talents because I really feel like she could become a great actress.
Dark City is a great and lavish film that has some obvious influences from amazing films from history. Not only that, but there are great similarities between this film and The Matrix trilogy which would begin only a year later. This is an extremely influential and influenced film within the science fiction genre, making it a necessity for lovers of cinema. I should tell you that you probably will not want to watch the theatrical version of this film because you will not get the same experience as the director’s cut which is the version that Alex Proyas intended. As a matter of fact, your experience will be ruined within the first few minutes. Finally, Proyas seems to give his audience a gift with Dark City by using low-tech techniques which seems to be a lost art with the world of CGI that we live in these days. The director does give some unnecessary shots and a few continuity issues but overall this film is an overwhelming spectacle that should not be missed. I have spoken.