Sunday, 1 April 2012

Film Review: DARK CITY (1998) – Director’s Cut

Dark City - poster Director: Alex Proyas
Writers: Alex Proyas (Story/Screenplay), Lem Dobbs (Screenplay), David S. Goyer (Screenplay)
Running time: 107 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller
UK Release date: 29th May 1998

Watched on DVD Sunday 1st April 2012.


This is a film I first saw many years ago and I must admit I really didn’t understand it first time around. Second time I fell in love with it and this is my third encounter with it, but this time I saw the Director’s Cut. I must admit it does flow better and there is a more coherent story line in this version. I will tell you more after this very brief summary.

Dark City - 4 We begin with a man, John Murdoch, waking up in a hotel room. He seems to have no memory and when he stumbles upon the semi-naked body of a murdered girl he starts to panic. The phone rings and a Dr. Daniel P. Schreber tells him he might be able to help him but he must first get himself out of the room, which he does. John discovers he’s married to Emma, a nightclub singer, and that he is very different to almost everyone in this strange city. The police, in the guise of Inspector Frank Bumstead, investigate the murder, but there are others also keeping an eye on John. These are much more sinister and much more dangerous; but John is different, and that’s why they want him. It never seems to get light in the city and things keep changing every time the clock strikes midnight. I won’t say any more or the (Dark City) Spoiler Police might be investigating my murder.

Dark City - 1 In this version of the film you are thrown into the action straight away and only slowly do the characters develop. I really liked this and (although I had seen it before) I thought it made for a refreshing change. The design is beautifully done and I love the way it was shot with a very ‘film noir’ feel to it. The performances were all excellent, I thought Kiefer Sutherland as Dr. Daniel P. Schreber, Jennifer Connelly as Emma Murdoch/Anna, Rufus Sewell as John Murdoch and William Hurt as Inspector Frank Bumstead were all particularly good. Ian Richardson played the sinister Mr. Book with great aplomb; Richard O'Brien as the freakish Mr. Hand and Bruce Spence as Mr. Wall were also very good.

Dark City - 10 This film is extremely dark, and I’m not just talking about the way it’s lit. Everything about it is dark. Yes there are things that people may find a little bit too freaky, flying men for a start, but I can overlook this ‘silliness’ because the story is so good. It slowly unfolds like a 1930’s detective novel, but with a very dark twist. I must admit that even on its third viewing I was still finding little nuances in there that just make it a little better each time. Without doubt: Highly Recommended.

My score: 8.7/10.

IMDb Score: 7.8/10 (based on 87,434 votes at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 74/100 (based on 80 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 80/100 (based on 137,465 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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Mr. Hand: [stomps on a newspaper clipping] So it seems you discovered your unpleasant nature.
John Murdoch: Who are you?
Mr. Hand: We might ask the same question, yes? Sleep... now.

John Murdoch: I was just thinking, what you do seems kind of dangerous right now. I mean, how do you know I'm not the killer?
May: I don't. Why, you feeling any urges I should know about?

John Murdoch: When was the last time you remember doing something during the day?
Inspector Frank Bumstead: What do you mean?
John Murdoch: I just mean during the day. Daylight. When was the last time you remember seeing it? And I'm not talking about some distant, half-forgotten childhood memory, I mean like yesterday. Last week. Can you come up with a single memory? You can't, can you? You know something, I don't think the sun even... exists... in this place. 'Cause I've been up for hours, and hours, and hours, and the night never ends here.

Dark City - 1 John Murdoch: I know this is gonna sound crazy, but what if we never knew each other before now... and everything you remember, and everything that I'm supposed to remember, never really happened, someone just wants us to think it did?
Emma Murdoch: But how can that be true? I so vividly remember meeting you. I remember falling in love with you. I remember losing you.
Emma Murdoch: I love you John, you can't fake something like that.
John Murdoch: No, you can't.

Dark City - 9 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
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