Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dark City

Movie Name: Dark City
Year of Release: 1998
Director: Alex Proyas
Stars: Rufus Sewell, Jennifer Connelly, Kiefer Sutherland, William Hurt, Richard O'Brien, Ian Richardson, Bruce Spence, Colin Friels, Melissa George, Mitchell Butel, Ritchie Singer
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

Synopsis & Review:
Following the problems with the shooting of "The Crow" director Alex Proyas took some time to work on his next project, which turned out to be the darkly creative "Dark City". The film focuses on the character of John Murdoch, who wakes up in a bathtub, in a hotel, without a recollection of whom he is. Murdoch tries to retrace his steps, and as he does so, the more surprising are the facts he starts to collect: the city seems to always be surrounded in darkness, and everything comes to a still during specific times. He comes to realize there are strange men going around re-arranging people, situations and even city, and they are now hot on his trail. It's up to him to discover himself and a way to battle these strange creatures.
Alex Proyas' career had been established in the commercials before venturing into full length features. If "The Crow" introduced his aesthetic and universe, while remaining faithful to the spirit and tone of the comic book series of James O'Barr, "Dark City" is definitely an extension but also a more personal venture into what the director really likes to explore. The film, much like "The Crow", is again bathed in a overwhelming darkness and has a definite sense of timelessness - the characters, production design, mix a retro look while simultaneously being futuristic. This allows for the film to be a truly unique expansion of the director's universe, where he can visually and narratively explore the elements that are part of his focus, namely the unexpected hero, who possesses more power than his antagonists, but somehow has to learn and acknowledge it, and the characters who surround him and provide him with a sense of history and humanity. The film is very successful in building all of this intricate scenario, and creates a compelling lead character, however the supporting characters again fall prey into a somewhat predictable and cliched exposition. It's a film that nonetheless drinks inspiration from noir, science fiction and even some of Fritz Lang's 30s expressionist films, but gives all this a consistent tone that is really interesting and compelling. The actors are all equally engaging, while the cinematography from Darius Wolski (Ridley Scott's cinematographer of choice) is simply beautiful. A very good film worth revisiting.