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Dark City (1998)

tomatometer

74

Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 80
Fresh: 59 | Rotten: 21

Stylishly gloomy, Dark City offers a polarizing whirl of arresting visuals and noirish action.

65

Average Rating: 6.4/10
Critic Reviews: 20
Fresh: 13 | Rotten: 7

Stylishly gloomy, Dark City offers a polarizing whirl of arresting visuals and noirish action.

audience

85

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 151,216

My Rating

Movie Info

Alex Proyas (The Crow) directed this noir-styled futuristic thriller, scripted by Proyas, Lem Dobbs (Kafka), and David S. Goyer (The Puppet Masters). Separated from his wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly), amnesiac John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) awakens alone in a strange hotel to learn he is wanted for a series of brutal killings -- but he can't remember if he did or didn't commit these murders. Indeed, most of his memories have completely vanished, and he becomes the focus of interest for both mad

Jul 28, 1998

New Line Cinema

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All Critics (81) | Top Critics (20) | Fresh (59) | Rotten (21) | DVD (31)

A mishmash of iconography lifted from better movies.

April 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (4)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Dark City trades in such weighty themes as memory, thought control, human will and the altering of reality, but is engaging mostly in the degree to which it creates and sustains a visually startling alternate universe.

April 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

City ultimately plays like one of those art-deco dystopian CD-ROM adventures of recent years.

April 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Comments (2)
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[A] stylish hybrid of futuristic thriller and film noir.

April 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

April 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Newsweek
Newsweek
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If you don't fall in love with it, you've probably never fallen in love with a movie, and never will.

April 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A visionary slice of visceral experience.

March 31, 2009 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

Writer/Director Alex Proyas needs to stop it with the writing and concentrate on making the pretty. He needs to find a good script and just direct it.

January 7, 2009 Full Review Source: rec.arts.movies.reviews
rec.arts.movies.reviews

The experience of Dark City is one that no film lover should miss... seen now as it was intended after 10 long years of wandering in the shadows.

August 10, 2008 Full Review Source: Flipside Movie Emporium
Flipside Movie Emporium

Proyas assembles his inspirations into a unique amalgam with the power of myth to tap the fears and desires of our collective unconscious. [Blu-Ray]

August 5, 2008 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

mixes visual marvels with B-movie archetypes

July 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Was "The Matrix" before "The Matrix" was ever in the pop culture lexicon...

July 27, 2008 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

In the annals of noir Sci-Fi, by any measure, this is a Classic of cinematic invention.

July 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Cinema Signals
Cinema Signals

...the movie is mostly style, but it's a style so engrossing, it more than makes up for any lack of substance.

July 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

It does not take long to realize that there is a lot less here than meets the eye.

April 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4 | Comments (2)
Film4

One of the most ludicrous movies in years.

July 29, 2007 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com | Comments (2)
eFilmCritic.com

Dark City is a truly scary flick.

May 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Houston Community Newspapers
Houston Community Newspapers

Um verdadeiro clássico contemporâneo da ficção científica, nos presenteia com um roteiro brilhante, uma fotografia impecável, uma direção de arte belíssima e, é claro, com questionamentos filosósicos incrivelmente instigantes.

June 15, 2006
Cinema em Cena

The sound and visuals of this movie are not to be missed on the big screen if at all possible.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid | Comments (2)
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for Dark City

A bit hack thematically, very digital, absolutely breakneck pacing visually and plotwise, dreamy illogical... kinda cool hyper-pastiche.

Dick Tracy meets Kafka in the Matrix
July 9, 2007
brooklynspo

Super Reviewer

[img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img]
July 25, 2013
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Directed by Proyas, the man behind ' The Crow' and with a title like this you get an idea of what you're in for. You could say this was the film that influenced 'The Matrix' and from then on a tidal wave of other fantasy films. Not in terms of action but mainly visuals, mood, stylings, the odd set piece and of course the dream like plot.

Even though the film sounds like some kind of period set superhero type action film like 'The Shadow' its a whole different ballgame. The story is set within a sprawling city, a dark city naturally, that never seems to see daylight and no one seems to notice. The main character of 'Murdoch' awakens with amnesia and up for murder, from this point on he must try to fathom out how and why he's in this situation whilst trying to avoid mysterious shrouded characters that are trying to kill him.

It doesn't sound much of a thrillingly new concept but its the look and atmosphere that was new for the time. I say new, there was Burton's 'Batman' of course and 'The Shadow', but this type of dark comicbook/graphic novel approach wasn't anywhere near as common as it is today.

Take a heavy set 30/40's city complete with classic cars and fedoras, give much of the architecture and style a bleak black n white German expressionist tone bordering with gothic and a plot that harks back to old detective noir thrillers. The other cool thing was the city we see in the film is a mix of different architectural styles from different countries. Bits and pieces from all over so you're never sure where exactly you are, it also seems to have bits that range from industrial to basic urban to classical. Overall a very deary dream that does remind you of the cityscape from 'Blade Runner' somewhat.

I'll be honest, this film takes time to get to grips with, the first time I saw it (theatrical release) I didn't really like it. I'll admit I expected something very different, an action film, the film is much deeper than that. I only started to get the idea about the same time as Hurt's character starts to follow 'Murdoch'. Its then you realise what's going on and it all clicks, everything is not what it seems, the world you know isn't real...sounds familiar doesn't it.

I think the casting let the film down in terms of box office success. I loved the cast personally and thought each person gave the film credibility and believability. I love Richard O'Brien and wish he would do more films where as Jennifer Connelly's looks are so 30's America she could have been snatched from the era in a time machine. She already proved this starring in the other 30's period set adventure 'The Rocketeer' (part of the 30/40's action hero trilogy with 'The Shadow' and 'The Phantom'). Hurt is stoic of course where as Sewell is a proper British actor. The inclusion of Sutherland was the only member there to try and attract a more mainstream audience, I think.

I think 'Dark City' is a damn good thinker, philosophical to a degree, questions aren't completely answered and you can look at the story in many ways from many angles. This is why it didn't go down to well upon release, everyone including myself expected something else and at the time (again myself included) people were disappointed and a tad confused. 'The Matrix' filled that part in the jigsaw puzzle and gave people what they wanted, the dark gothic bleakness, something to think about with another good plot and of course blistering action.

Upon reflection I now see how good this film is with its possible symbolism's and allegories, if you scratch beneath the surface there may or may not be more to find. You could also look at this as an extended 'Twilight Zone' episode, which is how I see it really.
March 3, 2013
phubbs1

Super Reviewer

A bit hack thematically, very digital, absolutely breakneck pacing visually and plotwise, dreamy illogical... kinda cool hyper-pastiche.

Dick Tracy + the Matrix
December 3, 2012
    1. John Murdoch: You want to know what it is about us that made us human. Well, you're not going to find it in here. You went looking in the wrong place.
    – Submitted by Jacob M (2 months ago)
    1. John Murdoch: I don't think the sun even... exists... in this place. 'Cause I've been up for hours, and hours, and hours, and the night never ends here.
    – Submitted by Geoff K (18 months ago)
    1. John Murdoch: I know this is gonna sound crazy, but what if we never knew each other before now?
    – Submitted by Janine S (21 months ago)
    1. Mr. Hand: It seems you have discovered your unpleasant nature.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
    1. Dr. Daniel Schreber: Remember John, never talk to strangers!
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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