|Dark City: Platinum Edition Review||1 out of 2 users found this review helpful.|
Dark City is one of those films that I did not see when it was in theaters but had often read good things about it, so I was expecting to see something special after I unwrapped the Netflix envelope and popped the disc into my player.
The film opens with Kiefer Sutherland narrating the setup for the story, giving up the big mind bending twist in the first few frames of the movie. I had read that this film and the Matrix shared similar ideas and themes, so I was surprised that the big secret was being laid out right at the jump. A good rule of story telling is never tell the audience what you can simply show them; it is much more entertaining and gripping to experience something with the characters.
This first choice shows a complete lack of confidence in the films ability to even tell a story. Confidence is not restored when the first character we see is Kiefer Sutherland hamming up his best impression of the of a limping, wheezing version of Laurence Olivier from Marathon Man, or one of the evil Nazi's from Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is not quite clear what Sutherland was striving for, but the result is distracting and worthy of dinner theater.
Our protagonist, John Murdock ( Rufus Sewell), is introduced waking up naked in a bathtub, in a hotel room, bleeding from his forehead, with no memory of how he got there or who is he is. He discovers a dead girl in the room. Soon our protagonist is running from the cops with everyone saying he's a serial killer. The problem with this set up is we're given no time at all to get to know or care about John Murdock. Maybe an actor with more natural charm might have given us a reason to care, but Rufus Sewell is not that kind of actor.
While on the run, we find out that John Murdock, unlike every other human, is able to resist the control of the aliens; He can bend reality, even though he doesn't know it yet. This fact gets repeated numerous times just to make sure you get the idea.
It's not long after, that we're introduced to the villains of the story: a group of psychic aliens with the ability to be bend reality, but who have no more intelligence or imagination than a 12 year old boy, since we are supposed to believe that these entities are smart enough to bend reality, but choose to act like brain dead thugs. All these aliens do is sit around in a room dressed like “Pinhead” from Hellraiser, and stare at a big head on the wall that opens up to a large “Big Ben” style clock. In the Matrix, what made the Smiths interesting was their ability to become anybody at anytime. The Smiths had purpose and a logical reason for their actions. Our alien brain trust can think of no better plan than to find John Murdock, and then kill anyone that comes into contact with him.
The rest of this film is just a series of random chase scenes between John Murdock and his alien pursuers until the inevitable showdown.
There are no characters to care about, no good performances, dramatic moments, or even a nice mind bending twist at the end. All we are left with are the visuals. Clearly the director, Alex Proyas, did his best to mimic Terry Gilliam's Brazil. In fact, I almost wonder if that was his entire motivation for making this film. I am sure if we were in the room when this film was pitched they said something like: “It's Blade Runner meets Brazil.” Dark City is not as good as the deleted scenes from either of those films.
If you have not seen this film, don't bother. I'm sure we can all find a more constructive ways to spend 100 minutes, even if it's just to staring at a blank wall.
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