Thursday, 28 January 2010

Shut it down

Dark City (1998) is an interesting example of a Gothic thriller that, while failing on quite a few levels, is still good enough to bear rewatching every year or so. It's got a spiffing cast - where else would Ian Richardson, John Bluthal and Richard O'Brien rub shoulders with Kiefer Sutherland and William Hurt? And, while the central premise is a bit ropey, the execution is rather good.

Without blowing the gaffe, Dark City is a combination of hard-boiled thriller of the Chandler school and a science fiction plot that exploits Clarke's dictum that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The Strangers who secretly control this city of dreadful (and perpetual) night have near-magical powers. They are also zombies, of a sort,  and their technology is retro-clunky in style, if not in potency. So my praise for the movie probably belongs here rather than my other blog, which tends to be more sci-fi and general ranting.

Visually, the film is still pretty good, despite a great many bits of tat that make a point of keeping cast and audience in the dark. While Dark City isn't a classic, it is certainly more impressive than The Matrix, with which it has a few basic gimmicks in common. Sadly, thanks to Hollywood idiocy, the very first moments of the movie are marred by a cretinous voiceover that gives much of the game away. (Think Blade Runner, the original cut.) I recommend turning the sound down till the credits roll, should you decide to rent it.

Oh, and it stars Rufus Sewell and Jennifer Connelly:

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