More than a year before The Matrix awed audiences with its complicated and confusing world of non-reality, there was Dark City, which almost certainly can be called an older sibling to its much more popular predecessor. If the writers of The Matrix never saw Dark City, then they must think alike, because these movies are so similar in essence that sometimes it is hard to tell them apart. While The Matrix is much more stylish in its action sequences and its world is based in a computer, it is set in a dark and dreary world where things are not what they seem. So is Dark City. In The Matrix, there is one man able to harness the powers of the human race's "masters." There is one in Dark City. And not until the very end, in both movies, does that character fully realize the extent of which they can go...
The same man who made The Crow made Dark City, and what a perfect pick he was for the job. Dark City IS a dark city, where daylight never shines, the buildings are tall and surreal, and every day life is just a backdrop to the monotonous grays and blacks of the characters and buildings.
Dark City is gifted with some pretty smooth graphics, and some pretty cheesy ones. When the rooms change or the main character, John (Sewell), uses his powers, the graphics are pretty awesome, but when the city changes or crumbles, things can look pretty cheesy. It's not hard to tell that Dark City didn't have the biggest budget, but it can't be blamed for that.
It is also gifted with a complex and intriguing storyline, one requiring a stretch of the imagination. One can catch on pretty quickly to where the movie is headed, but the extent to which it goes remains unseen until they actually show it. Let's just say they take a different approach than The Matrix.
Acting wise, there were flaws, but nothing of considerable stagnation to the quality of the film. Sewell was pretty good as the hero, even though he might not have the moves or the charm of Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connely is great as the beautiful wife, William Hurt plays the eventual protagonist Detective, and Kiefer Sutherland is Dr. Schreber, who never seems to say two phrases in a row without pausing.
Dark City isn't The Matrix, but its close, and a surreal world and intriguing plot carries this movie to an excellent rating.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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