Dark City

I have become the monster you were intended to be.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * * )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )

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Dark City is one of the best science fiction movies in the last five years. For a long time it was a DVD staple of mine and it was unfortunate that it was shadowed by The Matrix so closely. With a plotline that unfolds like a puzzle, constantly showing new layers upon new layers, you suddenly find yourself at the truth, gasping for breath. With excellent acting, cinematography, story, dialog, sets, and costumes, Dark City did nothing wrong. It is a great film.

I have some basic rules for good science fiction. Good science fiction should be able to stand on its own without any special effects at all. Examples include Attack of the Clones. The story is what drives Dark City. It is simple but complex at the same time. The use of quick cuts and sharp angles makes us feel as unsteady as our hero. The excellent performances of the confused John Murdoch and the quirky Dr. Schreber feed the story perfectly.

Detail is one of the great things about movies. Terry Gilliam knew this when he did 12 Monkeys. He is the only director on earth who would make Bruce Willis sit naked in the cold waiting for a hamster to run inside of a wheel. Good detail is the key to Dark City as well. In the dream states where Dr. Schreber instructs John of his abilities, the doctor is no longer scarred and unable to speak in anything but three word phrases. The doctor is good looking, strong voiced, stands tall and is witty. The vision of the doctor is everything the doctor wants to be, as it was he who implanted the memory in the first place. This small detail is almost lost until you watch the movie a few times, but it is one of my favorites. This movie is rittled with such detail and it makes it a true classic and a movie worth seeing many times.

Even though the DVD of dark city is over three years old, it stands up to the tests of time. It has a 1.85 to 1 16x9 enhanced picture and a full Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Not only does it have a directors commentary but also a commentary by Roger Ebert who discusses many of his views of this remarkable film. It is worth every penny.

I am a big believer in watching one good movie twenty times rather than twenty bad movies once. Dark City is a movie that deserves a lot of attention and multiple viewings. If you're bored on a Saturday night or interested in spawning some conversation with your nerdy friends, give it a watch. You will not be disappointed.