Dark Empire, Dark World
They built the city to see what makes us tick. Last night one of us went off.
Running Time: 100 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
Country: United States
If you possessed the ability to physically alter the appearance of the world around you, wouldnt you try to make it look fairly nice? Perhaps a couple of pot-plants here, a splash of colour there maybe even some tasteful artwork hung on a few walls? Unfortunately, though, aesthetics are not a priority for The Strangers, the race of slap-headed aliens who arrive on Earth to get up to all sorts of nastiness in Alex Proyas intriguing sci-fi noir Dark City.
Set in a self-consciously unrecognisable city of the future, it stars Rufus Sewell as John Murdoch, an everyday sort of bloke trapped in a not-very-everyday scenario. He wakes up in a bathtub, not knowing where he is or how he got there, his only company a dead prostitute. It seems the cops (led by a sleuthing William Hurt) want him for the murder of a total of six prozzies, and even more worrying is that The Strangers are after him too. Whats going on? What can it all mean? Is he really a killer? And why is that bloke who used to present The Crystal Maze (Richard OBrien) seemingly obsessed with him?
Like an old fashioned whodunnit crossed with the comic book setting of 2005s Sin City crossed with an episode of The Twilight Zone, this eye-popping romp displays an incredible richness of thought on Proyas part. Not only is the set design and cinematography out of this world, but theres a story here too: a story that may well take at least a couple of viewings to truly get to grips with. Without giving too much away, its about what makes us what we are and more importantly why that makes us much better than any lousy aliens (and yes, Mr OBrien, that includes you!).
My only significant problem with the film is Sewells inescapable feebleness as a leading man. Hes too weak in both performance and stature to make any sort of impact against the visual splendour of Proyas world, and as the flicks focal point hes overshadowed in more ways than one. That aside, its impossible not to admire a movie like Dark City. While performances arent its strong point, originality most certainly is, and even those who may not find it to their own individual tastes will surely be bowled over by the sheer ambition of the project I know I was.
It's Got: Kiefer Sutherland talking like this. It gets quite annoying actually.
It Needs: Some aliens with a bit more of a flair for architecture and décor. Cmon lads, would it kill you to spruce the place up a bit?
DVD Extras Dark times indeed if you were hoping for a decent range of extra features: here, you only get a trailer and a five-minute making of featurette (and, as you might expect, its impossible to truly do the films behind-the-scenes work justice in a measly five minutes). Version reviewed: Dark City (Entertainment in Video) DVD Extras Rating: 2/10
Creepy baldies from space and lots of sad faces bring a new meaning to the term city break in this marvellously shady piece of sci-fi.