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dark city

DARK CITY (1998 - R)

When he awakens in a strange hotel room, John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) soon finds he is wanted for a string of murders he has no memory of committing. Worse, he is menaced by a shadowy group of entities known as The Strangers, who can freeze time and alter physical reality. Gradually Murdoch starts to piece together his past life and unravel the mystery of the murders – all while The Strangers are closing in on him.

Rufus Sewell and Jennifer Connelly are compelling and sympathetic as a married couple with some serious problems. Shots of buildings morphing are terrific, thanks to Visual Effects Director Bruce Hunt. "Dark City" is bold and provocative, a refreshing change from the numerous "Alien" and "Star Wars" ripoffs.

The cast includes: Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, Richard O' Brien, Ian Richardson, and William Hurt.

Directed by Alex Proyas.

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Promotional Line... "It's a wonderful laugh! It's a wonderful love!"

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SYNOPSIS...

Aliens perform experiments involving identity with humans abducted from Earth. A married guy is thought to be a serial prostitute killer.

The accused killer goes on the run, pursued by a police detective. Every night at midnight, people fall asleep. Some of them are given new identities and environments when they wake up.

A human doctor who is working with the aliens gives our hero an injection that reveals the alien's plan. Armed with the morphing power of the aliens, he destroys them and creates a better city and life for the humans.

Review:

Promotional Lines: "Forget the Sun. Forget Time. Forget Your Memories." "They built the city to see what makes us tick. Last night one of us went off." "A world where the night never ends. Where man has no past. And humanity has no future."

Quote from Inspector John Murdock: " You know something, I don't think the sun even... exists... in this place. 'Cause I've been up for hours, and hours, and hours, and the night never ends here."

John Murdoch awakens alone in a motel to a nightmarish reality, in a frying pan of trouble. Many are trying to catch him, and he has no memory of who he is and how he got there. The police, led by Inspector Frank Bumstead (William Hurt) are hunting him as the main suspect in a series of brutal killings of prostitutes. A woman, Emma (Jennifer Connelly) who claims to be his wife, is also pursuing him. But, his most dangerous pursuers are the telekinetic Strangers, described as vastly powerful beings who control everything in the city, and want him because of the extraordinary gifts he has manifested.

Director Alex Proyas' "Dark City" is a bold, fascinating Sci-Fi head trip. "The X Files" movie makes a smooth transition from small screen to big.

Rufus Sewell is sympathetic as a man who questions both his memories of his childhood as well as his involvement in a string of prostitute murders.

Kiefer Sutherland excels, in an odd character turn, as a human helping the aliens. His veteran character father, Donald Sutherland, must have been proud.

William Hurt is good, as usual, as a police detective, investigating the murders, who begins to question reality. His somber, subdued style of acting is particularly appropriate to the dark, strange proceedings here.

Jennifer Connelly is touching as a 40s-style club singer whose husband may be a killer. Connelly first began getting attention following her appearance in "The Racketeer."

The screenplay, by Alex Proyas and Lem Dobbs and David S. Goyer, (story by Alex Proyas), is dark, brooding and thought provoking. Much like "Total Recall," DARK CITY probes the meaning of memory and identity, with fascinating results.

"Dark City" plays out like a two hour episode of the classic old TV series, "Outer Limits," particularly the episode where a city block and its inhabitants were transported to an alien world. Considering the generally excellent quality of the old series, "Dark City's" "Outer Limits" connection is a plus not a minus.

The film's visuals are excellent. Scenes of building rising, falling and morphing, as well as aliens flying around under their own power, are terrific. Visual Effects Director, Bruce Hunt, has done fine work here.

The film's interiors and exteriors have a great, quasi-40s look. Production designers, George Diddle and Patrick Tatopoulos, knocked themselves out here, with great results.

My favorite scene is Sewell's climactic confrontation with the aliens in which he changes the world, literally. Wow!

The film's music is strong and pounding, with a mechanical/industrial feel. Trevor Jones is the responsible party.

"Dark City" should be very watchable for most Sci-Fi viewers. Fans of the old "Outer Limits" series will be well entertained.

BEST BETS: MATRIX, 13th FLOOR, MEMENTO, BLADE RUNNER, TOTAL RECALL, and THE FIFTH ELEMENT.