Carrying on with the look of The Crow, Proyas gives Dark City an appropriately noirish atmosphere. Many have asked whether The Matrix ‘borrowed’ heavily from Dark City. The similarities are blatant, the opening few scenes are almost identical to the Wachowskis’ movie, and some of the early dialogue is the same. The look is similar, as is the story to some extent: your life is being controlled by an outside, unseen force, and the human race is their little play thing. Then again, Proyas’ story has elements from Metropolis, and Blade Runner. Both films are must-sees from the nineties, but unfortunately Dark City is barely known.
Sewell’s character Murdoch wakes up with no idea who he is, or who the dead woman beside him is. When he is chased by a group of leather clad baldies, he begins to wonder what the hell is going on. He questions why no-one can remember the last time there was daylight, or remember the way out of the city. Help comes in the form of odd doctor Sutherland, who seems to be the only other person in the city who doesn’t mysteriously fall asleep at midnight. Sutherland teaches Murdoch how to harness his powerful gift (an ability to ‘change’ his surroundings), and then try to bring down the bad guys.
Questions of free will are explored, and like The Matrix we wonder whether it would be better not to know. At the end, there is still no escape from the city, although Murdoch’s power to create remains. Most of the performances are good, though unlike The Crow, Dark City has a bleak, close to emotionless feel to it, and only Jennifer Connoly adds some glamour. The film is visually stunning and the plot is engaging, though it was always clear that this would never be the blockbuster which The Matrix set out to be.
Go for the special edition DVD for soome decent making of doceumentaries and snacks, and
catch up on one of the decade’s forgotten gems.
As always, please leave any comments on the movie or the review. Have you seen it, and do you feel it should be more widely known?