Dark City

User Score
8.6

Universal acclaim- based on 147 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 2 out of 147

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User Reviews

  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 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.
  2. Aug 30, 2013
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. It isn't one of those science fiction movies that can be overlooked. It has better effects than The Matrix yet no one gives it the same credit. The movie is extremely fast paced and gives you almost no chances to breathe. The plot can be very confusing but it is very well done. I find it one of the best. Expand
  3. Jan 9, 2014
    8
    Though Dark City starts off terribly with poor acting and a disorienting pace, the movie improves vastly as it goes along, and eventually becomes a deep, engrossing film (with amazing acting) that was entertaining and thought-provoking. However, do not think this means the film spares any expense to deliver thrilling action and graphics that, despite looking terrible now, were amazing atThough Dark City starts off terribly with poor acting and a disorienting pace, the movie improves vastly as it goes along, and eventually becomes a deep, engrossing film (with amazing acting) that was entertaining and thought-provoking. However, do not think this means the film spares any expense to deliver thrilling action and graphics that, despite looking terrible now, were amazing at the time of release and do not throw off the movie even now. Overall, I recommend it to science fiction fans, particularly those who loved the themes and cinematic elements of The Matrix Trilogy, as this movie is very similar in both (though slightly poorer with the graphics since it was released before The Matrix). Expand
  4. johne.
    Oct 5, 2008
    10
    Fantastic visuals that still look good even compared to todays standards. I Have no complaints it is what it is, a piece of good inspired artwork. What more could you want?
  5. Jan 23, 2012
    10
    One of the best sci-fi films ever made. Intricate plot and well explained also, genius quality. Simply amazing movie with awesome visuals and great acting too.
  6. Nov 17, 2012
    8
    Has a visionary coherence that echoes the late, great Stanley Kubrick. I do feel that it ended too quickly. I was entranced, and wanted to see more of the fascinating and haunting world Dark City was showing me.
  7. Nov 30, 2012
    9
    A visually arresting, mysterious science-fiction "noir" detective story. As the plot develops, the viewer is confronted with questions about the very essence of humanity, and whether our world is really so real as we think. Very re-watchable!
  8. Jan 28, 2013
    9
    The Atmosphere is incredible. The characters are out of this world.
    The storyline is OUT-WORLDLY! This review is going to sound like an 80's movie trailer isn't it? (Just kidding).
    If you're a fan of Hell-Raiser (or even film-noir) , you'd really enjoy this.
  9. 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 (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
    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.
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  10. 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". 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
    *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.
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  11. EnderW
    Jan 26, 2008
    8
    Great movie. Two of my biggest gripes about the movie are supposedly going to be fixed in the director's cut (which should hopefully be released soon): - The unnecessary intro at the beginning which ruins the plot. - The shallow exploration of many of the ideas in the movie (Proyas stated that the director's cut adds a good 10-20 minutes of extra scenes that further develop and Great movie. Two of my biggest gripes about the movie are supposedly going to be fixed in the director's cut (which should hopefully be released soon): - The unnecessary intro at the beginning which ruins the plot. - The shallow exploration of many of the ideas in the movie (Proyas stated that the director's cut adds a good 10-20 minutes of extra scenes that further develop and explore the plot and story). Expand
  12. JamesK.
    Jul 15, 2009
    9
    It was entertaining and deep, it also looks utterly superb.
  13. RamonL
    Sep 13, 2009
    9
    Visually stunning and extremely good sci-fi storyline. It's like "Brazil" meets "The Matrix".
  14. DavidW.
    Jul 6, 2005
    10
    Visionary filmaking a wonder to see. I loved it !
  15. [Anonymous]
    Jan 9, 2006
    10
    Good.
  16. BenR.
    Mar 17, 2006
    7
    I have to say the writing was excellent, very twisty, and it keeps you interested, guessing for more. But Proyas's directing was waaaaay to iver-the-top. Great writing, see it for the plot alone.
  17. Jack
    May 28, 2003
    10
    Loony, crazy, way over the top, and nearly a masterpiece!
  18. AlG.
    Aug 28, 2002
    10
    Incredibly inventive. The last time I saw it, I noticed a number of overlapping concepts and themes with "The Matrix." Rufus Sewell is the most under-utilized actor in film.
  19. AadhaarV.
    Feb 9, 2003
    10
    Good God one movie I just cant forget. AWESOME!!!!!
  20. D.Cole
    Aug 19, 2003
    10
    Absolutely awesome. Brings to life the true "Gotham City" that I wished Batman had really brought. Matrix similarities are obvious, but it was made first, so it gets credit where credit is due.
  21. BradJ.
    Jan 7, 2004
    9
    Not perfect, but damn close. Solid performances by Connely and Sewell. An outstanding performance by William Hurt, he was truly cast into a perfect roll. Overall a fantastic movie that suffers from one of the worst taglines ever.
  22. RalphW.
    May 16, 2004
    8
    I really enjoyed this movie. It had a gripping story that kept me captivated the entire duration of the movie. The plot was a bit choppy in places and Kiefer's performance was a bit below par. But otherwise excellent viewing.
  23. Dec 16, 2011
    9
    I really enjoyed this film. The fact that it was free, on Netflix Canada, certainly helped as well. All the same, it was very well done. Apart from that, I don't know what else to say.
  24. Jan 27, 2013
    7
    An imaginative sci-fi thriller with sensational production values/special effects--a vast noir metropolis landscape that seems to exist in an alternate time line, with elements of our present and past combined with visions from a futuristic comic book. Although its story doesn't add up when you analyze it afterward, the movie does take you on a visually arresting ride that offers manyAn imaginative sci-fi thriller with sensational production values/special effects--a vast noir metropolis landscape that seems to exist in an alternate time line, with elements of our present and past combined with visions from a futuristic comic book. 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 entertaining surprises. Director Alex Proyas rewrites movie rules, making its stand on visuals alone. It is hypnotic, haunting, and to be sure, dark. And there's nothing wrong with a movie that is simply sensational to look at.
    "Dark City" opens by immersing the audience in the midst of a fractured, nightmarish narrative. The protagonist, who later learns that his name is John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell), has amnesia. He begins his "awaking" as a full-grown adult naked in a bath tub, uncertain of how he got there. His only company in his hotel room is the nude body of a dead prostitute. Much like that plot, the main character here, and the audience as well, is thrown into the story without any idea of what's really happening. It's an effective tool as it puts the audience on a level playing field with the main character with similar motives.
    Suddenly, Murdoch receives a phone call from a man named Dr. Schreber (Kiefer Sutherland), who claims to have his best interests at heart. Schreber warns him to get out of the hotel immediately. Soon, without a clue about his identity, Murdoch is fleeing from phantom-like creatures with supreme mental powers. When cornered, Murdoch discovers he is not defenseless against his enemies -- his mind, like theirs, can shape reality, although he doesn't understand how to harness his abilities. Soon, his quest to unearth his past links him up with Emma (Jennifer Connelly), a woman who is supposedly his wife, and Police Inspector Bumstead (William Hurt), who believes Murdoch to be innocent of the prostitute's murder. But Murdoch's small group of allies offer little help when it comes to dealing with his powerful, ghoulish adversaries, the amoral Mr. Book (Ian Richardson) and Mr. Hand (Richard O'Brien).
    While the story does slightly deal with the main character's memories coming back to him, that's what is really missing. Movies like this usually have those feint images of the past holding the key to unlocking the mystery, but this film's more concerned with the thought of memories being erased and/or passed around, then with what's actually inside those thoughts. The film's storyline is a bit weak but manages to remain intriguing by informing and evolving "on-the-go", though the ending is a bit of a disappointment. Alex Proyas once again delivers a phenomenal spectacle by creating a somber, despairing ambiance set in "Dark City". "Dark City'' is a cinematic experience-- it is a triumph of art direction, set design, cinematography, and special effects.
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  25. Mar 15, 2013
    8
    I love this movie. Unique and interestingly presented. The plot does get a little to complicated and rushed at times, but that aside it's still a great movie. To be honest it feels like it should have been longer and that they really cut it down.
  26. Sep 28, 2015
    8
    Dark City is fascinating for those who can enjoy a good nature documentary or travelogue. The sets, shooting, and effects are all well-done and it is refreshing to see something from the pre-CG era. Dark City is not particularly dark or scary but has a rather curious (a la Alice in Wonderland) and, at times, campy vibe. The style is noir, the city looks European, Jennifer Connelly isDark City is fascinating for those who can enjoy a good nature documentary or travelogue. The sets, shooting, and effects are all well-done and it is refreshing to see something from the pre-CG era. Dark City is not particularly dark or scary but has a rather curious (a la Alice in Wonderland) and, at times, campy vibe. The style is noir, the city looks European, Jennifer Connelly is stunning, William Hurt lends a bit of gravitas -- all this makes for a very odd mix that is very interesting and dream-like. The ending is quite silly and the film does have many of the flaws other reviewers point out, but these are all outweighed by the things Dark City does right. Expand
  27. Apr 3, 2016
    7
    Alex Proyas's noisy psychedelic movie nightmare, "Dark City," is 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 manyAlex Proyas's noisy psychedelic movie nightmare, "Dark City," is 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.

    The elements of that ride suggest that Proyas, who masterminded the popular teen-age mind-blower "The Crow," is a walking encyclopedia of weird science-fiction and horror imagery. At its best, the movie feels like a magician's trick, a gleefully improvised demonic fantasy of ominous evil genies conjured out of bottles and stirred into a steamy swirl that brings in everything from Franz Kafka to Vincent Price, from Fritz Lang to "Star Trek."

    The movie's premise -- that what we call reality might simply be a fantasy imposed by an omniscient mad scientist -- is unsettling enough to make you wonder if it could actually derail a seriously drug-addled mind. The world it envisions is a stylized, claustrophobic, fantasy of Depression-era New York City existing in perpetual night. Here the residents have unknowingly become the scientific playthings of a race of gray-faced fascistic aliens, the Strangers, whose voyeuristic obsession with human feeling recalls the sexual obsession experienced by those hyper-mental veiny-browed coneheads who fed off human fantasies in the pilot episode of "Star Trek."

    Threatened with extinction, these invaders have determined to colonize the Earth. Their leader is a sinister proto-fascist wraith with priestly airs named Book, who is played with a wonderfully icy relish by Ian Richardson. This British actor, who brought such blood-chilling hauteur to the role of Francis Urquhart, a Machiavellian British prime minister, in the satirical BBC series "House of Cards," outdoes himself here in sang-froid, effusing the imperial grimness of a bloodthirsty lord high executioner.

    The invaders operate from secret catacombs in the heart of the city. Among their powers is an ability to put all the residents to sleep at the same time. While unconscious, they become subjects in an elaborate experiment involving injections through the forehead that mix and match people's memories. It is all a search for (get this!) the human soul. The Strangers also have the telekinetic ability to move objects, and during these blackouts in which time appears to stop, they rearrange the city's architecture. In the movie's most visually striking sequences, buildings shift, and the entire metropolis heaves into a different configuration.

    When the residents awake with new memories and fresh personalities, many won't even remember their names. But every once in a while, a mistake is made, and a subject wakes up in the middle of an experiment. The movie's hero, John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell), is one such premature riser. No sooner has he regained consciousness than he finds himself being investigated for a murder he does not recall committing. He doesn't realize it at first, but he now possesses the Strangers' telekinetic powers.

    The plot that "Dark City" builds on John's predicament is a confused affair involving childhood memories of an idyllic seaside upbringing in a place called Shell Beach that may or may not exist. John also has a wife named Emma (Jennifer Connelly) who may or may not be an idea planted in his head. It hardly matters, because the love story has no weight.

    Kiefer Sutherland, in a hyperkinetic turn as a duplicitous doctor employed by the Strangers, suggests a punked-out Vincent Price. And William Hurt walks through the role of a police inspector looking into the murder. How this character succeeded in not having his mind played with by the Strangers is one of the many gaping holes in a movie that's much more interested in blowing your mind than in adhering to any interior logic.
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  28. May 30, 2016
    9
    It's rare accomplishment for any kind of filmmaker, whether he might be a veteran of this medium or just newcomer starting out, to create a kind of engaging, endlessly-fascinating environment that Proyas brought to the screen in The Crow. Now, with his follow-up movie, ''Dark City'', the director incredibly manages to one-up himself. 1998's ''Dark City'' is quite a remarkable film alsoIt's rare accomplishment for any kind of filmmaker, whether he might be a veteran of this medium or just newcomer starting out, to create a kind of engaging, endlessly-fascinating environment that Proyas brought to the screen in The Crow. Now, with his follow-up movie, ''Dark City'', the director incredibly manages to one-up himself. 1998's ''Dark City'' is quite a remarkable film also quite a cerebral film. You really have to pay attention if you want to follow the plotline perfectly. I feel like i have to see it again to fully enjoy and immerse myself into the full experience that is ''Dark City''
    The writing is excellent, original, mysterious, surprising, thrilling and dense. The performances are very solid, e.g Rufus Sewell as the paranoid leading man who suffers from memory-loss, Kiefer Sutherland as the peculiar doctor, John Hurt as the hard-headed detective, and Jennifer Connely as the ''wife'' of Sewell's character.
    ''Dark City'' has lots of remarkable scenes, but the one that stands out the most is the boat ride scene with Murdoch, Bumstead and Schreber. That scene hits you like a ton of bricks. However, it is quite expositional.

    A tiny detail i noticed (that i loved, and i hope is an intention reference) was in an opening shot that approaches the hotel window behind which we meet Murdoch. The window is a circular dome in a rectangular frame. As clearly as possible, it looks like the "face" of Hal 9000 in "2001: A Space Odyssey" Hal was a computer that understood everything, except what it was to be human and have emotions. "Dark City" considers the same theme in a film that creates a completely artificial world in which humans teach themselves to be themselves.

    The two (slight) problems i had is that the movie is original and has lots of creative ideas, but actually really isnt that original (it's not that Dark City itself was unoriginal, more that the themes expressed in it have been explored in a variety of movies since, and before the movie's been released. Possibly making it a transformative work for the time, but less impactful watching it as a modern viewer.?), it's like an assembly of a whole lot of other films, and Proyas has done that with meticulous precision.
    Movies that come to mind that have a lot of the same elements are (Some will be movies that were released subsequently but still): Brazil, Metropolis, The Matrix, The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The City of the Lost Children, M, Nosferatu, Inception, Memento, The Game, Total Recall, Blade Runner, The Twilight Zone, Kafka, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and maybe even a little bit of Batman and The Fifth Element. This doesnt make this movie bad at all, but it was quite obvious and noticed it quite some times throughout watching the film. The other slight problem being, that it can be quite confusing to watch and you really need to have your head in the game, otherwise you will be lost in the story. A second viewing will most likely be very rewarding.

    ''Dark City'' is not a story so much as an experience, it is a triumph of art direction, set design, cinematography, special effects and imagination.
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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. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Michael Wilmington
    75
    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]
  2. Dark City grabs your eyeballs and squeezes.
  3. 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.