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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