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Cinophile – Dark City

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My, how times change. Today Kiefer Sutherland is a lovable, torture-prone spy, while Rufus Sewell is best remembered as a bad jouster who tackled the Joker, after which he was a bad vampire tackling Abe Lincoln. But both starred in one of the most remarkable movies of the Nineties – one that showed there is substance to special effects.

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If you can cast your mind back roughly fifteen to twenty years, you’ll find yourself in a decade that loved special effects, mainly because the movie world had gotten really good at it. These were the halcyon days after Jurassic Park, before we took modern SFX for granted. Michael Bay still made movies about cops, but was about to release Armageddon. Yet his help wasn’t needed: movies with special effects were already vapid and storyless, caught in the agreeably fun grasp of candyfloss films like Independence Day.

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Enter Dark City, a film that smartly combined Film Noir with Science Fiction, bringing a lot of depth to both genres. It starts in an appropriately mysterious fashion: a man wakes up in a bath. He has no memory, made all the more worrisome with a dead prostitute in his room. Her demise was not natural: did he do this? What’s going on? The story folds out into an interesting detective tale that goes well-beyond tall blondes and jaded detectives. And here is where Dark City shines: while other films used special effects to make things prettier, Dark City employs mind-bending visuals to tell the story. It would have been impossible to pull off before the advent of computer graphics, making this one of the first films to use CG for more than a gimmick.

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Dark City also has a pretty damn good story and stands as solidly alongside the likes of Miller’s Crossing as it would compare to The Matrix. Directed by Alex Proyasm it shares DNA with his other masterpiece, The Crow, though with a more serious attitude and, sadly, no Michael Wincott. But Sewell’s protagonist is the perfect underdog in a world of underdogs, while the shuffling doctor played by Sutherland definitely stands as one of his career’s best roles.

 

 

Cinophile is a weekly feature showcasing films that are strange, brilliant, bizarre and explains why we love the movies.

 

Last Updated: June 12, 2013

8 Comments

  1. Great movie. One of my all-time favorites!

    Reply

  2. Ilden Webber

    June 12, 2013 at 13:19

    This movie. I love this movie so much! I think it’s time for another views this weekend perhaps!

    Reply

  3. Skyblue

    June 12, 2013 at 13:25

    Fantastic movie. I had to watch it again almost immediately back to catch all the nuances.

    Also one of the best reveals in a movie ever!

    Reply

  4. Airborne

    June 12, 2013 at 13:45

    Hey! I just recommended this movie the other day… the ending tied the whole movie together… Now I need to get Spy Games….

    Reply

  5. Trevor Davies

    June 12, 2013 at 14:07

    This is one of my favourites – never saw that ending coming.

    Reply

  6. Rinceyouropinion

    June 12, 2013 at 14:39

    Well done James. Damn straight. I loved everything about this movie. The piecing together of his mind like Memento, the Matrix ideas and darkness was truly amazing.

    Reply

    • James Francis

      June 12, 2013 at 16:29

      I actually forgot all about it, then someone dug it out of one of my DVD boxes. It still holds up well, both in effects and the fantastic story.

      Reply

      • Rinceyouropinion

        June 12, 2013 at 16:32

        I think I’m going to watch it again this weekend with OVG. Not sure if he has seen it.

        Reply

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