Thursday, 12 December 2013

Dark City (1998)



The advertising campaigns for Dark City and The Matrix overlapped in Australia, which didn't seem to hurt their success, but did bring home the many similarities in the setup: a man learns his entire world is fake, controlled by inhuman forces with the ability to change what he thought was 'reality'. He must learn to use the enemy's own powers and overcome them.

The movies do diverge a lot from the common starting point, however, with Dark City taking a much less action focused approach. There's no wire fu or slow-mo gunplay here. Instead we get a more investigative approach, with the protagonist getting hints of the real situation to begin with, and only learning the full truth quite late. This movie also has a different aesthetic, mixing elements of noir and art deco design very nicely.

Setting aside the comparison with The Matrix, however, how is the film? Well, it's pretty good. It's not a perfect film; I think it flags a little at times, the climactic battle is a bit meh, and the real hero of the piece actually appears to be one of the supporting characters. But I like the creepy vibe the film maintains for most of its running time, and the way it looks. There's great set and prop design in this film. It's also got a fantastic cast, though it sometimes fails to do a whole lot with them.

Dark City is worth checking it out if you want to see a visually sumptuous science fiction mystery.

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