Dark City

on February 27, 1998 by Lisa Osborne
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   Every aspect of this movie is dark from the lighting to the premise, which is the depiction of one of writer/director Alex Proyas' childhood fears. John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) awakens in a bath of cold water with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. A girl has been murdered in an adjoining room. Is he a killer? His fear is palpable.
   Viewers are swiftly transported to another universe where nothing is as it seems--buildings change shape at night and peoples' dreams and memories are swapped around like old clothes. Proyas endeavors to create the ultimate nightmare: a place where nothing is real, where nothing one sees or remembers can be trusted. If people are the sum of their experiences, what happens if you mix and match memories across an entire city? This is all part of The Strangers' grand plan to discover the essence of humanity. Although they look like leftovers from the Munsters and their collective consciousness and outfits are rather reminiscent of Star Trek's Borgs, the script is strong enough to make The Strangers seem menacing.
   The movie focuses on John Murdoch (Sewell) as the only human sharing the aliens' ability to `tune' or change the environment by sheer willpower. Sewell gives an intense, haunted performance as Murdoch, a man struggling to stay one step ahead of his enemies while reconstructing his shattered mind. Support comes from his estranged wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly), The Strangers' pet scientist Dr. Schreber (Kiefer Sutherland), and Detective Bumstead (William Hurt) the man charged with tracking him down.
   Although the ending is a bit too obvious, "Dark City" is a thought-provoking movie with some great special effects, namely the morphing sequences.    Starring Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, Richard O'Brien and William Hurt. Directed by Alex Proyas. Written by Alex Proyas, Lem Dobbs and David S. Goyer. Produced by Andrew Mason and Alex Proyas. A New Line release. Thriller. Rated R for violent images and sexuality. Running time: 100 min.
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