Film Scouts Reviews

"Dark City"

by Sheila Benson

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With "Dark City," director Alex Proyas is on familiar turf, recreating the same gothic world he envisioned in "The Crow." Unfortunately, Proyas has again forgotten to add textured characters or interesting dialogue to his beautiful images. The story revolves around a man who can't recall his identity or murdering the mutilated prostitute in his hotel room. As John is pursued by Detective Bumstead (William Hurt), he tries to piece together his identity with the help of his estranged wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly) and the not-quite-right-in-the-head Dr. Schreber (Kiefer Sutherland). What John discovers is that his world and the people within it are controlled by an ominous race of beings called the Strangers (think Pinhead without the pins), who alter reality each night in an attempt to discover what makes us human.

"Dark City" is a major disappointment because it has a promising premise; it just can't deliver the goods. This story has the potential to be a truly spine-tingling tale, rivalling the best of the Twilight Zone, but here it plays like a comic book. Not even the talented cast can breathe life into the script. Rufus Sewell expresses the right amount of confusion and desperation, but is never given anything interesting to say or do. William Hurt sleepwalks through a thankless role, and Kiefer Sutherland, playing the mad scientist, delivers his lines in an annoying breathless rhythm that seems more befitting an after-school special on asthma. "Dark City"'s only saving grace is its spectacular production design and special effects, which might be enough to satisfy some viewers. However, those viewers who prefer more provocative sci-fi had best stay clear.

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