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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 24.36%
Just Average: 8.33%
Pretty Crappy: 2.56%
Sucks: 7.69%

6 reviews, 120 user ratings

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Dark City
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by Rob Gonsalves

"What drugs do I have to take that would make this a good movie?"
1 stars

If you took 'Blade Runner,' 'Brazil,' 'Alphaville,' 'Hellraiser,' and '12 Monkeys,' mooshed them all together, then snorted some chimney soot and sneezed all over the film, the result would look very much like 'Dark City.'

This hopelessly lifeless and derivative fantasy has gotten hefty praise in some quarters, most loudly from Roger Ebert, a lifelong sci-fi fan who actually gave it four stars (maybe he snorted too much chimney soot). It's the second film by Alex Proyas, who previously directed The Crow; Proyas' achievement here is to make a more incomprehensible movie than The Crow, which I had not thought possible. He has indeed topped himself.

Rufus Sewell stars as John Murdoch, a man with serious memory lapses. He is wanted by the police for a series of prostitute killings, he is married to Jennifer Connolly, and he can't remember any of it. (I can understand not remembering Jennifer Connolly, who may, for all I know, be a woman of many talents; acting is not among them.) A detective, underplayed by a slumming William Hurt, is on Murdoch's trail; so is a limping psychiatrist, played by Kiefer Sutherland with an. Unusual verbal tic that. Requires him to pause. After every few words. Like this.

It turns out that a black-leather-clad society of bald guys is running everything, putting everyone in the city to sleep at midnight and rearranging stuff: "Let's make this building bigger and that building skinnier, and let's get some nice coffee tables in here." They also like to switch people's identities -- it's all part of some experiment they're performing on humans to see how they react ("Hey, where'd this coffee table come from?"). Perhaps they switched Roger Ebert's identity with that of a very easily impressed 12-year-old; I hope they switch him back.

I gave up on following Dark City about five minutes after I gave up on trying to see it. My semi-annual lecture to hotshot directors: There is this thing called a "screen," and the audience sits facing the screen, and images are projected onto this screen so as to create visual entertainment. No matter how elaborate the sets are, if the lighting is so dim that we cannot see them, we might as well be looking up our own asses for two hours. Movies like this and The Crow (Dariusz Wolski shot both films -- it's encouraging that people who are apparently blind can get work as cinematographers) aren't really designed to be followed or enjoyed -- not by sober viewers. They're for college kids who prepare by getting stoned in the parking lot: "Dude, what if we are not who we think we are? Wow. That's profound, man."

So, back to the plot: Murdoch, it seems, has mysterious powers like those of the Hellraiser-clone bald guys. His expression gets real intense, as if he's channeling the hidden forces of the universe (either that or he's passing a kidney stone), and suddenly a door appears out of nowhere, or a bridge crumbles under the feet of his pursuers. Who gave him these powers? I'll tell you who: Lazy screenwriters (Lem Dobbs, of Kafka, and David S. Goyer, of the Crow sequel) who haven't thought of creative ways to get the hero out of a jam and have to resort to deus ex machina.

During the climax (so heart-pounding that I only nodded off once!), Murdoch faces off against one of the bald guys; they stand in mid-air frowning at each other while all hell breaks loose around them. Evil loses, good triumphs, and a new world is born. A world with sunlight and beaches, and probably ice cream and kittens, too. 'Dark City' is one of the most ludicrous movies in years. Roger, lay off that soot.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=118&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/11/07 22:48:18
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell intriguing visionary sci-fi cribs a bit from the outer limits 4 stars
1/17/15 Dane Youssef A unique vision of epic grandeur. It has to be seen, to be experienced. Let it fill you. 5 stars
3/17/14 Lyle Deep. Like a kiddie pool. Story makes no sense. A mishmash of stolen ideas and styles. 2 stars
2/28/13 sean one of my top 3 movies of all time. simply brilliant. repeated viewings required. 5 stars
8/20/11 Chris Stopper Edward Hopper meets David Lynch 5 stars
2/01/11 Dr.Lao The most creepy, haunting, nightmarish movie I ever enjoyed 5 stars
8/17/10 AJ Muller Just a classic, truly visionary and fantastic. 5 stars
4/22/10 H.C I found this much more enjoyable than the Matrix. It was scary, thought-provoking, 10/10 5 stars
3/29/10 Jean-Noel G One of my favorite movies. Less dumb than, say, transformers. I understand some won't like 5 stars
1/15/10 Brian Welch The reviewer mistakenly believes that his stupidity is shared by others 5 stars
11/22/09 Jeff Wilder Underrated. Watch it a few times to truly understand it. 5 stars
11/07/09 inchoate Edward Hopper meets Raymond Chandler; what's the prob ? 5 stars
8/23/09 One Have just seen it twice on DVD. It's a powerful movie, if you do get it. 5 stars
6/19/09 Thomas Rob gonsalves is obviously an idiot, this is one amazing film 5 stars
3/02/09 roffe Bizarre, great film. Doh, it is meant to be dark. Not flawless, but intriguing and unusual. 4 stars
1/08/09 Des D A very fine film best enjoyed soot free but definitely not for tree swingers. 5 stars
11/25/08 Leo T worst movie since First Knight 1 stars
8/19/08 zubidoo Roger Ebert picked this movie over Saving Private Ryan? Are you effing serious? 2 stars
7/23/08 chris f very oveer rated 3 stars
4/05/08 Adam Panto The spiral narrative starts at the center tight, spinning to the climax at the outside edge 5 stars
1/07/08 Michael Sluder I like it better each time I see it. And not many movies can pull that off. 5 stars
11/20/07 D Outstanding and Extremely Creepy 5 stars
8/25/07 emma terrible, extremely unrealistic, i defy you!! analyze it carefully & you will understand. 1 stars
6/16/07 mb Empty Dark With A Bit Of Likeableness 3 stars
5/28/07 Mark Louis Baumgart Complex andl pretty unique film despite the intellectually lazy trying to pigeonhole it. 5 stars
5/15/07 Nabi Makes the matrix seem naive. Brilliant performances with lots of intrigue and shock. 5 stars
3/30/07 fools♫gold For the first time in years, it actually took me two tries to fall in love with it! 5 stars
3/16/07 man no match for the Matrix 4 stars
1/12/07 del Rob and Carrot...you're both completely clueless. Stay that way. 1 stars
12/22/06 Carrot_Glace A cheap BLADE RUNNER rip off, BLADE RUNNER is WAY better.... 1 stars
11/20/06 Derek K Best Film Ever! Underrated and Brilliant! A Must See Sci-Fi Mystery! 5 stars
5/30/06 doga capanoglu dont miss 5 stars
5/06/06 Reklc Intriguing, haunting, dark in short excellent! 5 stars
4/30/06 Vicious Very original, predating the matrix with the artificle reality concept. Great art style too 5 stars
4/18/06 chris f an exellent sci fi flick very enjoyable and very interesting 5 stars
10/01/05 Nicole Fantastic movie...there is not enough good sci-fi! 5 stars
8/11/05 ES The end is so worth it, Better than the Matrix? you bet=cool on 5 stars
7/18/05 lucius gabriel mind blowing 5 stars
6/11/05 Joe Criteser One of the best sci-fi films I've ever seen. Period. 5 stars
5/25/05 Jake Brilliant! Better than the Matrix, and I love that Movie! 5 stars
5/01/05 Anthony G Wachowski niggas trying to take from the white man! 5 stars
3/26/05 indrid cold If the Wachowskis ripped them off, at least they made a way more entertaining movie. 3 stars
2/22/05 Rock-Steady The original masterpiece. Suck a dick wachowski fagboys! 5 stars
2/08/05 Jeff Anderson THE MOST VISUALLY AWESOME FILM OF MY LIFE! Sutherland & Connelly give smashing performances 5 stars
11/12/04 Moira Memorable, hauntingly atmospheric, just great! 5 stars
9/12/04 Phil Richards This movie rocked, but my Mom didn't like it. She didn't understand. 5 stars
9/04/04 DM Not very thoughtful, but gee, it sure is nice to look at 4 stars
7/20/04 Patjng nice... very nice.. 5 stars
7/17/04 Gray mesmerising and haunting 5 stars
7/11/04 X One of the best 5 stars
7/11/04 bobber liked it, better than most crap on the screen 4 stars
7/03/04 Luiz Gilberto de Oliveira Messias Better than Matrix, this underated movie is one the best sci-fi than i saw in my life. 5 stars
3/17/04 PAYNE_KillerZ Even though Tim Burton should've directed this, at least Keifer Sutherland's in it!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/10/04 T^im It mostly rules, but not perfect... 4.5 stars 5 stars
11/18/03 Lenka Bunova It is just perfect! 5 stars
10/25/03 Al Baston This was the first DVD I ever bought, my wife my son, everyone but me hates it, I love it. 5 stars
7/27/03 KevinProv It's what sci-fi was meant to be. Not just flash, but substance and thought as well. 5 stars
3/18/03 Jack Sommersby Great visuals; sorry-ass script. 2 stars
2/13/03 john The Matrix Hollywood ending was pathetic and didn't probe the questions this movie did. 5 stars
12/13/02 Zefram Mann Mindbendingly cool shit from the guy who brought us The Crow. 5 stars
10/17/02 Jiz Fuck Matrix, Dark City came first. Who ripped off who? 5 stars
10/01/02 John McNew A mind-bending, eye-popping, suspenseful, and exciting sci-fi masterpiece! My favorite! 5 stars
9/22/02 Vitality1 I really loved this movie. A good scifi movie from the last decade...for once! 5 stars
8/05/02 Lexy Z. A sci-fi movie that evokes thought? Weird, but worth it. 5 stars
4/30/02 Col Mind blowing - the best of sci fi - a landmark film 5 stars
4/12/02 oldgoatmon Poor mans matrix. Seems people like to say they like it more cause not many have seen it. 3 stars
3/29/02 Jim Cool and creepy 5 stars
3/01/02 Alan Smithee One of the best sci/fi-thrillers of all time. All hail Jennifer Connelly!!!! 5 stars
1/27/02 Andrew Carden Bizarre, but Excellent Thriller. 5 stars
12/28/01 Mad Max Fuck blade runner. This rocks the socks off blade runner! 5 stars
12/01/01 Monica O'Leary I loved the film - I have always liked Kiefer Sutherland's acting - he is a versatile actor 5 stars
10/17/01 officer412/l the most underated film of all time. pure genius 5 stars
10/03/01 Phoenix Underrated and offbeat, Dark City was a unusual and stimulating experience for me. 4 stars
8/20/01 P.Rodriguez loved the concept of the movie, just like blade runner the ending(DCUT)Leaves U wondering 5 stars
7/28/01 Steve Creepy atmosphere, very different, highly underappreciated, ending a bit Outer Limits-ish. 5 stars
6/29/01 Matthew T. A suberb hybrid of science fiction annd film noir. A true cinematic accomplishment! 5 stars
6/24/01 Matt Dorsey On par with the best sci-fi movies, such as Blade Runner, Dune, Matrix. See this. 5 stars
6/22/01 Jasmine Roger Ebert sucks Proyas's dick. 1 stars
6/12/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Underrated personified 5 stars
5/19/01 Milan Todorovic Alex Proyas is a genious!! 5 stars
4/11/01 YelloMiata@AOL.COM I think I played a video game version on my NES in 1988. 3 stars
3/30/01 Jesse L Twisty plot and not too bad! 4 stars
3/24/01 Monster W. Kung Minor flaws, but overall a very nice movie experience. 4 stars
1/30/01 R.W. Welch A shade too dark and overwrought to be watchable 3 stars
1/28/01 Soggy Bottom Boy very satisfying experience, best sci-fi movie of the turn-of-the-century. 5 stars
12/23/00 joh best mindfuck I ever saw 5 stars
11/13/00 The EVIL Penguin a Good movie with a mind-bending plot 4 stars
9/26/00 mephetic By far the best movie I've ever seen. 5 stars
9/25/00 The Bomb 69 totally underrated and original, kudos!! 5 stars
8/19/00 effendi the best sf, metaphysic and played movie ever made 5 stars
7/31/00 Trevor Vos why don't movies like this win oscars? 5 stars
7/01/00 Purple Monster I enjoyed this more than "The Matrix". 5 stars
6/12/00 DAVID Awsome movie and this movie was underrated!!! 5 stars
4/16/00 JDC Are we more than the sum of our memories? Not sure, but this film made me think about it. 5 stars
3/20/00 Peter A visual masterpiece, need to see multiple times. 5 stars
1/02/00 Nice Guy Eddie Excellent even on multiple viewings... great imagery and atmosphere... 5 stars
11/20/99 Alyssa Excellent and unpredictable. Watch it more than 3 times and you still say, "Wow." 5 stars
11/19/99 the Grinch Very creative way to celebrate passover, TAJ. I can relate to your Connellyisms... 5 stars
11/18/99 The Velvet Edge So tell me, TAJ - how do you feel about Jennifer Connelly? Freakboy... 4 stars
9/23/99 KK A great movie that hardly anyone knows about. 5 stars
8/10/99 Ted Wetzel A very unoriginal movie that rips off everything from Batman to Star Trek's Borg. 3 STARS. 4 stars
7/20/99 Eric Helps to watch this multiple times; storyline needs to be simple to fit the POINT. 5 stars
6/14/99 Lashan Lynn This was an increadble movie! Very, VERY dark! 5 stars
6/02/99 Greg Richard Very underrated film, thought it was excellent 4 stars
4/15/99 JDC Great movie, derivative ending. Powerful images too. 5 stars
4/06/99 unstrung suprised the hell out of me, realy. this movie had a pretty good storyand looked very nice 4 stars
3/15/99 Go Swans The best film ever, visually 5 stars
2/19/99 Mr Film Great concept... Very entertaining. 4 stars
2/17/99 Bishop Not bad, overhyped though. Ebert's best film of 98'. 3 stars
1/10/99 Johny One of the 3 best films of 1998 5 stars
1/04/99 Movie Geezer quite a challenge---a very deep film 4 stars
1/02/99 Dasha Why is everyone complaining about the storyline? The movie was great! 5 stars
12/30/98 Chaplin1 Visionary work...WAY underrated! 5 stars
12/19/98 Bats Rufus Sewell: ooh, aah, neat, pretty (and the movie was out of the ordinary, too) 4 stars
11/06/98 grunter Mix two parts Brazil & one part Truman Show; visuals too morphic, conventional ho-hum end 4 stars
9/20/98 MR HOLLYWOOD One word "AUSTRALIAN" , please keep clear of this depressing,dull thing!!! 1 stars
9/16/98 Trav Not bad at all for a "Sydney" movie. : 4 stars
9/05/98 J Lyons Love Jennifer Connelly. Wish she was in a good movie. 2 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball Rufus Sewell is a crank, but otherwise this rocked. 4 stars
8/14/98 {{{OZ}}} It's aussie, so it has to be better than most 4 stars
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  20-Feb-1998 (R)
  DVD: 03-Feb-2004


  06-Aug-1998 (M)

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