Dark Matter (2008)
Critic Consensus: The creaky plotting, inscrutable characters, and unconvincing ending make it difficult for audiences to connect with Dark Matter.
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Critic Reviews for Dark Matter
Begins with a shot of Meryl Streep practicing tai chi, and therein lies a precise encapsulation of the film's attitude toward the intersection of Eastern and Western cultures
The film does a fine job of displaying the contrasts between these tense, formalized Chinese students and the faux populist American academics.
There is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from actual events, but it's a tricky business, and Dark Matter does no one right by sticking to the shocking conclusion.
It is easy to see the film as two movies crammed together, neither of them being very good.
Liu Ye is too inexpressive for his role's demands, and the movie doesn't build to his downfall: It just zaps itself there.
Audience Reviews for Dark Matter
A fairly watchable movie that tells the tragic story (that's somewhat based on true events) of an aspiring Chinese student who resorts to a violent shootout after his dreams are blocked by school/campus politics.
Amateurishly directed with a hilariously shitty final quarter, but not without some scattered merits. More later
"The universe is made mostly of dark matter and dark energy, and we don't know what either of them is" - Saul Perlmutter Inspired by actual events, director Chen Shi-Zheng's socially conscious psychological drama follows the journey of an ambitious Chinese scientist working towards his Ph.D. in America, only to be marginalized to the extent that he ultimately loses his way. All Liu Xing (Liu Ye) ever wanted was to study the origins of the universe at a Western university. Upon arriving at the school, Liu immediately rents a modest apartment with a few other Chinese students and begins flirting with the pretty American who works at the local coffee shop. Personally welcomed into Department Head Jacob Reiser's (Aidan Quinn) select cosmology group, Liu remains dedicated to his studies and optimistic about the future. Things continue to look up as Liu becomes close with wealthy university patron Johanna Silver (Meryl Streep) after the two become acquainted at an orientation for foreigners sponsored by a local church. Eventually, Liu becomes Reiser's protégé, and makes a sizable impression at a prestigious conference attended by the pair. But attitudes start to shift when Liu's studies in dark matter come into direct conflict with his mentor's prominent theories and well-established studies. His excitement about a potential breakthrough causes him to ignore repeated warnings that he must pay his dues, and Liu's findings are eventually eclipsed by that of more studious fellow student Laurence. Determined to have his studies published, Liu goes behind Reiser's back, but he ultimately becomes the target of ire rather than accolades, with Johanna's naïve encouragement prompting him along a dangerous collision course. While Liu remains enamored with the concept of the American dream and optimistic about American science being a free market of ideas, he begins to grow dejected after his dissertation is rejected, the girl at the coffee shop blows him off, and his roommates all find lucrative jobs. Essentially left behind at the university, Liu rejects Johanna's offer for help and vows not to return home to disappointed parents. Now, as he coasts on the fumes of his unrealized dreams, the dishonored student prepares to lash out with one final act of devastating annihilation. A fairly good film with a promising plot and class A actors but what really brought this film down I think is the way the director handled his cluttered vision of the premise and it came out too messy for me. The special effects were really unnecessary, this is an indie art house flick so its alright if you don't use special effects if its not really called to the occasion. And the repetitive use of overly sentimental shots of lead character Liu Xing was a bit annoying, I mean I already get the scene was emotional, I don't need to stare in the face of a mopey chinese guy for a long period of time contemplating his streaks of bad luck. On the other hand though, the actors in the film were really exceptional. Lead Liu Ye, who is apparently a big shot actor in China marks his American debut with this film. The material given maybe a bit too cluttered but he did his best with it and came out really good. I can't really say his debut went out with a bang but he's almost there. Meryl Streep of course, always the pro. You can't go wrong with the lady. Overall, I'd say the acting was exceptional and the plot is really promising but the material is just too cluttered and messy for my style. Should have left the unnecessary special effects in the cutting room floor. 3/5
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