Monday, December 12, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #62: "Dark City" (1998)

Movie Stats:
Released 1998 (USA)
Australian & American, in English
Director - Alex Proyas
Stars - Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, William Hurt, Jennifer Connelly

Plot Summary:
When John Murdoch (Sewell) wakes up in a hotel room with no memories, he soon discovers that he’s part of a vast conspiracy perpetrated by an alien species. Sutherland co-stars as Daniel P. Schreber, a doctor with a murky agenda; Hurt as Frank Bumstead, the police inspector trying to track down Murdoch; and Connelly as Murdoch’s wife, Emma.

Nudity (male buttocks, female breasts); violence; gore.

Bad Stuff:
I didn’t like the big fight scene. Compared to the rest of the film, it seemed both goofy and cliche.

I didn’t care for most of the soundtrack.

I’m not entirely sold on the aliens’ agenda or its execution. Like, if I don’t think about it too hard, it holds up, but if I start to examine it, there are a lot of holes I can poke.

Good Stuff:
Absolutely gorgeous cinematography. There were several scenes that made me gasp in surprise because they were so stunning.

The acting is phenomenal. Everyone’s really good, but Sutherland was my favorite. Really different from a lot of other roles I’ve seen him play.

Great pacing. It never felt like it dragged.

The Verdict:
I saw this once before after reading repeatedly online that it was a must-see. I remember not liking it much, or at least thinking to myself, “That’s it?” So I wasn’t feeling especially keen to watch it again, although I couldn’t remember a thing about it, apart from Kiefer Sutherland.

In the end, I liked it much better this time around. I don’t think it’s revolutionary, but it felt really different from the other films I’ve seen so far on this list. Somehow, the mash-up of film noir and sci fi works. The great pace of it kept me from getting impatient as the mystery unfolded. And I liked the resolution of that mystery. The concept was intriguing, even if it had a few problems. I really think, though, that it’s the cinematography and acting that make this film. If I were compiling a list of “must-see” sci fi films, I would indeed include this one.

I give it 3.75 stars.


Patricia said...

Mashup of Film Noir and Sci-Fi? Intriguing.

balyien said...

I feel like sci fi writers love to do the futuristic 1940s/50s thing. I've seen it more than once. I guess people are just fascinated by that time period.