Metascore
66

Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 23
  2. Negative: 1 out of 23
  1. 100
    A great visionary achievement, a film so original and exciting, it stirred my imagination like "Metropolis" and "2001: A Space Odyssey."
  2. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    100
    It is as cool and distant as the planet the Strangers come from. But, Lord, is Dark City a wonder to see. [2 March 1998]
  3. 100
    If you don't fall in love with it, you've probably never fallen in love with a movie, and never will.
  4. Reviewed by: Andrea C. Basora
    90
    Proyas floods the screen with cinematic and literary references ranging from Murnau and Lang to Kafka and Orwell, creating a unique yet utterly convincing world.
  5. 90
    Obliged to go from lost soul to demigod, Sewell's performance is as fascinating as Proyas's mystical vision.
  6. 90
    Full of provocative concepts, but, like most films that attack such metaphysical concerns head-on, things have become a tad too jumbled by the end to be altogether satisfying. It's a problem built into the subject matter...This all said, Dark City is immensely entertaining, as well as visually dazzling.
  7. 88
    Dark City has as stunning a visual texture as that of any movie that I've seen...Visually, this film isn't just impressive, it's a tour de force.
  8. Proyas' movie lacks a truly rich or compelling story -- although the city secret is certainly a rich and compelling idea. All too often, Dark City seems a great production design in search of a movie, an ultimate modern film noir pastiche, in which the images are so strong they overpower the drama. [27 Feb 1998]
  9. The story is dark and often violent, but it's told with a remarkable sense of visual energy and imagination.
  10. Reviewed by: Marshall Fine
    75
    Fascinating, visionary filmmaking. With its amber-tinged palette and its distinctively dystopian view of life, it may be the most unique-looking film we've seen in ages...[but] defies logic and makes frightening and unexpected leaps.
  11. So relentlessly trippy in a fun-house sort of way that it could very easily inspire a daredevil cult of moviegoers who go back again and again to experience its mind-bending twists and turns. Although its story doesn't add up when you analyze it afterward, the movie does take you on a visually arresting ride that offers many unsettling surprises right up to a sentimental sunburst of an ending that has a paranoid undertone.
  12. It's full of visual flash, and can be enjoyed as a giddy ride, but you would waste your time trying to puzzle out the nuances of the story.
  13. An almost really good movie...risks leaving the viewer feeling like one of the bewildered automatons that move through the plots.
  14. 60
    It's all about the amazing look, cobbled together from an astonishingly evocative range of sources: "Nosferatu" and "Mad Love," "Brazil" and "Metropolis," a haunted mosaic of bits and pieces of movie memories.
  15. Reviewed by: Anthony Miele
    60
    Hurt and Sewell are both quite believable as their respective characters, while Sutherland's performance is lacking in more than a few catagories.
  16. 60
    [Proyas] hasn't yet learned how to enliven his characters as fully as his sets. Part of this is structural (somnolence is built into the script), but the greater fault lies with Proyas' direction of his performers, most of whom deliver their lines in a strangulated whisper.
  17. Reviewed by: Sarah Kerr
    60
    Perhaps too much attention to special effects.
  18. 58
    It's a little short on coherence and long on comic-book sensationalism -- dig the hokey, climactic Battle of the Minds between the hero and a cadaverous Mr. Big -- but there's no denying the nightmarish pull of the film's aesthetic.
  19. Dark City grabs your eyeballs and squeezes.
  20. 50
    Looks like a million bucks (or rather, a million bucks gone to compost), but at its dark heart it's a tedious, bewildering affair, lovely to look at but with all the substance of a dissipating dream.
  21. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    50
    What they have done is taken a few second-hand ideas from noir and speculative fiction and mixed them in occasionally striking ways, even if, in the end, the result isn't all that much fun.
  22. Proyas is trying simultaneously to create a pure thriller and sci-fi nightmare along with his tongue-in-cheek critique of artifice. And this doesn't work out quite so well.
  23. 20
    One reason this production-design vehicle is so incredibly boring is that the characters keep having to explain the plot to one another.
User Score
8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 85 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Jan 14, 2012
    10
    great sc-fi film, really interesting. the plot isnt too complex, and they tell you wants happening. the acting is good, although i didnt likegreat sc-fi film, really interesting. the plot isnt too complex, and they tell you wants happening. the acting is good, although i didnt like Kiefer Sutherland character at first but he grew on me. (spoiler ahead) [[a nice twist, that i wasnt expecting.]] i highly recommend it, can think of anything wrong with. Full Review »
  2. Jun 15, 2014
    7
    *Dark city will take you on a very weird ride...*

    I've seen this film several times now and the same conclusion arises at the end "Odd".
    *Dark city will take you on a very weird ride...*

    I've seen this film several times now and the same conclusion arises at the end "Odd". The story itself is very good and you are never really sure where its going next, set in a dark, gothic metropolis city it is sure to have your skin crawl at the depressing atmosphere. It certainty takes more than a sprinkling of 1920/30 detective films with it, although that where the similarity's end.

    But that is not a negative, you will find this film quite indulgent always wanting to see where the next turn takes you. Have I mentioned this is a dark, gothic film already? Yes, well I thought I better mention it again as you will need the curtains drawn to watch this film.

    The characters are played well with the villains making you feel less than comfortable. A worth while gothic adventure for them lonely nights.
    Full Review »
  3. Feb 10, 2014
    7
    If you like a thriller filled with action , mystery and suspense then you’ll love “Dark City.”
    The film is about a man called J. Murdoch
    If you like a thriller filled with action , mystery and suspense then you’ll love “Dark City.”
    The film is about a man called J. Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) who wakes up one night at the scene of a grisly murder with no memory. After this horrific awakening questions soon start to arise like why is there no daylight in the city, where he’s awoken? Who are these pale men who seem to control everything? And, most importantly, is J. Murdoch really capable of murder? Even though these questions bring in a theme of mystery at times they also leave the viewer feeling confused and disinterested. But the suspense and action more than make up for this mistake.
    One of my favourite suspense-filled action scenes is where J. Murdoch is getting chased across rooftops by these strange pale men. The special effects in this scene fill it suspense and horror, which will leave you on the edge of your seat. And the slow-motion camera effects are used in a very good way when J. Murdoch jumps from roof to roof.
    In this film Rufus Sewell also shows that he is a very good actor by showing us that not only can he play the role of a bad guy like he does in “A Knight’s Tale,” but he can also play the role of a good guy.
    I would recommend this film to anyone who likes action films with a bit mystery and would this film 7/10.
    Full Review »