Movies I Wish You Had Seen – Dark City

Dark City 1998

So, here is the problem. Most of you readers have probably seen this movie, but not in its true form. I happened to catch this move on TV and was disgusted by the way it was hacked, the inability to see half of it and the incredibly garbled audio. At that point I shut off the tuner and flipped on the ole DVD and saw a good movie, it’s called Dark City and when seen as it should be it’s a visual feast, an aural treasure, and an emotional thrill ride. This is a really good movie.

This cast is amazingly complex. Rufus Sewell, Jennifer Connelly, Kiefer Sutherland, and William Hurt are the mainstays of this cast. Each of them carries, with intense precision, this film from an obscure art film into mainstream Sci Fi with emotion and depth to what could have easily been cardboard cutout characters.

Writer/Director Alex Proyas (The Crow) adds a uniquely noir vision to this already bleak story. The opening scene alone is one of the most frightening scenes on film. In it, John (played by Rufus Sewell), wakes up in a strange hotel room, naked, in a bathtub and a bloody face, with no memory of how he got there. The scene holds as quiet desperation plays over his face, until the uncomfortable silence is broken by the overloud ring of the telephone. This is one of the best film openings in existance and its impact carries through the rest of the film.

The use of special effects in this movie should be a guideline to anyone directing in the genre:  if you use big effects, do not substitute flash for story, make them work together. They do. It does. It’s a wonderful movie. Cinematographer Darius Wolski worked with Proyas on The Crow, so they had some unique chemistry working on a second very dark film and it shows. The almost effortless melding of visuals, effects and music makes this a real treat.

Trevor Jones composed the score, in brilliant understatement. His many previous efforts included In The Name of the Father, Sea of Love, and Last of The Mohicans but give no indication of his ability to match the bleak visuals with a stunningly beautiful soundtrack.

This is Dome, sayin’: Don’t watch this one on cable, it’s too damn good!


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