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Dark City

R CC
4.5 out of 5 stars (10) IMDb 7.7/10

Separated from his wife Emma, amnesiac John Murdoch awakens alone in a strange hotel to learn he is wanted for a series of brutal killings.

Starring:
Rufus Sewell, William Hurt
Runtime:
1 hour, 40 minutes

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By OneMoreThing TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 28, 2015
Format: Amazon Video
I stumbled on this movie via a streaming service and had such a trip meta experience. The movie involves non-friendly aliens erasing people's memories and then implanting them with remembrances from other people - not usually whole lives, but bits and pieces from one person, more bits and pieces from another.

The premise is an easy one: one human subject somehow adapts. But the layers of tropes are so fascinating and so well-executed that the viewer also constantly gets hit with a sense of things half remembered: where have I seen these aliens before (very similar to Star Trek TOS and Nosferatu, among other places). Why is Kiefer Sutherland so not-very-convincing as the mousy doctor? Because, just like the people in the movie, the role seems superimposed and unreal on the big bad wolf from Freeway. Not to mention what came later in the form of the velvet-throated torture hero. We know something's not right. In fact, everybody other than the aliens, the protagonist, and Detective Bumstead (William Hurt) ring the tiniest bit false, and it's brilliant.

Alex Proyas manages to exploit everything that is already in your own head, your memories, your existential fears, the movies and tv shows you have already absorbed to draw you into a movie that goes from why am I watching this to oh. my. gosh. unforgettable. And the movie's influence resonates through the most iconic movies and tv shows of the last 20 years: the Wachowskis, J.J. Abrams, and more.

I do not buy movies very often any more. Most of them come around often enough. But this year, my holiday gift to myself will be the handful of mind-benders that have changed my point of view, and Dark City is one of them.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
A sci/fi classic lost in the shadow of The Matrix release. The opening scene from The Matrix seems borrowed from this film (the props actually were from Dark City) from the cops with attitude to the dark atmosphere, but Dark City carries this atmosphere throughout the movie. The cast is great and Sewell and Hurt stand out.
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Format: Amazon Video
Cult films don't come much more groundbreaking than "Dark City" -- it was bending reality before the Matrix ever did, and with less obvious messages.

At first glance, Alex Proyas' spellbinding movie seems like a pretty basic story -- a seemingly ordinary man is pitted against the mysterious aliens who control his world. But it is far more than that. It's a dark grimy nightmare where nothing is what it seems, and everything we think is real is just an elaborate illusion, suffused with murky noir atmosphere and a mesmerizingly creepy band of villains. This is one of the rare films that is sublime 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.

John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) wakes up naked in a tub, with no memory of who he is, and a brutally murdered woman in the hotel room outside. Police inspector Frank Bumstead (William Hurt) and the cops are hunting him for a series of murders, but John is sure he didn't murder anyone. He also is the only who seems to notice that the Dark City is perpetually night. And he's the only one who doesn't spontaneously fall into a coma at midnight, which is when the the Strangers appear.

Who are the Strangers? Pasty, bald aliens inhabiting dead bodies who appear every night to rearrange the world. Buildings are reshaped, people's memories change, and some people's whole lives are altered. And before long, John discovers that the strangers are after him because he can "tune" reality as they do.
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Format: Amazon Video
Without a doubt, this is my favorite movie ever. I won't cover the plot, lots of the reviews already do, but I will tell you why this movie is astonishingly good...
- It is first class science fiction - the kind where everything starts out looking like it could be part of our normal daily world. But something is subtly off... hard to put a finger on, but just... off. And then a bit more off. And then really clearly not right. And then takes a most deliciously unexpected and creepy turn. GREAT science fiction.
- It has a truly outstanding development of tension, without over-amping the suspense meter. Even though the pacing is not fast, the story timing, under Proyas' skillful hand, moves precisely to perfectly stretch the nerves.
- It is relentlessly stylish - Alex Proyas' uncompromising eye for the visual in this film makes it a rich combination of Film Noir, Graphic Novel, 1940's Drama, and contemporary production values, with gorgeously saturated colors, and unexpectedly deep, long spaces. It is rich, stimulating, fascinating to look at and compellingly, beautifully, iconically visual.
- Once you've seen it, I *highly* recommend getting a copy of the DVD with the commentary tracks by Alex Proyas and Roger Ebert. Sometimes those commentaries are pointless, but Ebert's commentary is a class in filmaking all by itself, with awesome insights as to what makes this movie so stellar. Proyas' commentary will take you into the dark heart of directing, into his fight for artistic integrity, and is an outstanding reveal on both the methodology of making a deeply artful film in an essentially commercial business, and the craft of the movie itself.
A-pluses all over this one. My favorite movie. Ever.
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