Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Dark City" still good after all these years

I remember the first time I saw "Dark City" in the theaters way back in 1998.  I was really getting into movies by then and I remember being awestruck by how different this movie was.  Here was a movie that wasn't afraid to be smart.  It wasn't afraid to take interesting chances.  Most importantly, it was highly entertaining on a visual and a mental level.  I watched it again last night with my wife who hadn't seen it yet.  I am very pleased to say it is still an amazing movie.

"Dark City" takes place in a city that seems to be stuck in the 1930/40/50s.  A Man named John wakes up in a bathtub with very little memory of who he is or what is going on.  Turns out he may be a murderer, or maybe not.  That is the mystery that needs to be solved.  Well one of them.  There is a much larger picture or goings on that needs to be solved as well.  Rufus Sewell stars as John and has a terrific supporting cast with Jennifer Connelley, William Hurt, and Keifer Sutherland.  Sutherland channels his inner Igor for a really interesting performance that is so out there it fits amongst the weird cast.  This is a sci-fi movie as well.  It has the feel of an old school film noir piece with a ton of modern special effects.  The acting seems firmly placed in the noir world.  There is an odd calmness to much of the characters.  There is moments of outburst, but much of it is slow and steady.  It seems weird at first, but it turns into a choice.  It seems like they are supposed to be this way.  It begins to feel right.

The story moves along at a moderate pace, dropping clues along the way of what is actually happening.  About 40 minutes into it, I asked my wife if she was confused yet.  She was indeed.  And you are supposed to be.  The story is complex not to the point of frustration, but filling in the pieces is part of the fun.  You get the main point of the story early on.  It's the WHY it is happening that and who the "Strangers" are that makes this such a good film.  That along with the rich world that Alex Proyas and his art team create.  This movie is called "Dark City" for a reason.  There is never any sunlight (well almost) and the dark buildings reminded me of Tim Burton's Batman.  Everything has a certain grime and slickness to it.  The costumes are odd and beautiful all at the same time.  Sure the special effects a re kind of old, but they still look pretty darn good.

Roger Ebert thought this was one of the best films of the year in 1998.  I would agree with him on so many levels.  It is a truly original story that Hollywood is very much laking these days.  If you haven't seen it, it is very much worth the viewing.  If you have seen it, I recommend a second viewing.  Even after having seen it a number of times I picked up on a few things I never noticed before.  In my mind, it's a classic.

9 out of 10 stars


John L. said...

Seen this one many times and have always loved it. good job on giving the mood and setup of the film without giving away any spoilers.

Keith T. said...

Excellent movie, Sullivan does such a great job with that character.