Monday, July 17, 2006


Sci-Fi movie of the week:

The best sci-fi usually begins with a premise. It’s an idea that the writers ask you to believe, take as given, and move on from there. For example, time travel. Most people don’t believe time travel is possible, but if you don’t temporarily suspend disbelief and just accept it for a couple hours, then you’d never be able to enjoy a movie like “12 Monkeys”, or “Time Bandits”, or even “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. The best sci-fi is never about the special effects, it’s about that premise, and the consequences of that premise. Unfortunately, most sci-fi today begins with a budget. Then the question is, how many special effects can we buy with that budget? How many name stars can we buy with that budget? How much media blitz can we buy with that budget? How much money are we going to make? Oh by the way, does anybody have a story or a script?

Dark City starts with a premise that’s not revealed immediately. You are actually way into the movie before you realize what you’re asked to believe. By that time, you’re so engrossed in the mystery that you’ll believe anything.

People usually have a certain image when they think of science fiction. It usually takes place in the future, has aliens, spaceships, gleaming futuristic cities, or deteriorated cities as in Blade Runner. You think of Flash Gordon or Star Wars. What you usually don’t think of is Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade. This film may be categorized as sci-fi, but it can also be classified as “film noir” (note that it seems to be always nighttime in Dark City. At the heart of every film noir is a mystery. The mystery here is that there seems to be a group of dark mysterious strangers who can stop time. They do this every midnight, and while the people are stopped, they take a few selected individuals and completely erase their memories and give them new ones. Since a person’s entire character is based on their collective past, they become different people. Time starts up again and the strangers stand and observe. Our hero’s memory wipe didn’t completely take one night, and now he kind of remembers some things, and now he has to race against the clock to find out to answer the following burning questions.

  1. who is he?
  2. what’s happening to everybody?
  3. what do the “strangers” want from him?
  4. where’s Sam Spade when you need him?
  5. why is it always night time?
  6. did he really kill somebody, he can’t remember?
  7. why doesn’t Jennifer Connolly make any comedies anymore?
  8. what’s the deal with Kiefer Sutherland?
  9. can he trust the few memories he has left, or were they injected into his head on a previous night?
  10. who are the mysterious strangers, and who’s their tailor?, and
  11. They can tune reality, but can they tuna fish?

This is one of the most visually stunning sci-fi movies of recent times. And although I can’t guarantee that you’ll like it, I’m betting that you will. All I can say is that I liked it a lot. The link below will take you film critic Roger Ebert’s review of the movie.


Film critic Roger Ebert's review of DARK CITY.


At 9:17 PM, Anonymous JoeC said...

You have hit on one of the all time best and most unique sci-fi movies ever created. No, it's no Ed Wood production for horror, although it has some, it is so much more.

I thought the movie well acted, and although Jennifer Connolly didn't take her clothes off, she was breathtakingly beautiful in this movie. It has a kind of Gothic charm, even though the time period seems more thirties and forties. Must be all the pale people running (flying) around, and the fact that it its always night.

The scene where he cuts through the wall behind the shell beach billboard is just erie and fearsome enough to bring up an almost primordial fear of vast emptiness. The cinematography in this film is superb, and you get a real feeling of the looming dankness of the city.

Good pick, love the site, keep up the good work.

Now if only this movie had some really sad music . . . .

At 11:47 AM, Blogger FranksFilms said...

Did you watch the "Strangers Slap Party" featurette on the dvd?


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