‘Dark City’ Blu-ray Review
What is film noir? Film noir is a movie characterized by low-key lighting, a bleak urban setting, and corrupt, cynical characters. Film noir has been far and between considering that we get a film classified in this category every few years. Films like ‘Blade Runner’, ‘The Crow’, and ‘Payback’ to name a few have provided us with a film noir genre over the years. Director Alex Proyas takes both film noir and sci-fi, throws them into a blender to come up with a truly amazing film called ‘Dark City’. Proyas is not a stranger to different types of film noir either, as he was the mastermind behind the ‘The Crow’.
‘Dark City’ is a film that can bring nightmares to the viewer just from the creepiness factor alone as there aren’t pieces here that will make you jump in horror. The story begins with our hero John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) waking up in a hotel room and he has no idea who he is, where he is at, what has happened to him. Things start to turn sour for him once he answers the phone to find out his name is John Murdoch, but that he also needs to get out of the hotel room as these creepy looking humans are after him. These humans look like a cross between Pinhead from Hellraiser without the pins, but they are wearing trench coats and top hats. The further that John gets with unraveling his past, he finds out that he has a wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly) that hasn’t done such nice things in the past. Then there is the ever brilliant, but loony looking Dr. Daniel Schreber (Keifer Sutherland) that is a key to the story. Also throw in detective Frank Bumstead (William Hurt) who is trying to help John because he knows something weird is going on with this world they live in.
Proyas does an excellent job with the storyline here and there is a lot going on that can confuse the viewer if they are not paying attention. Everything unravels piece by piece in ‘Dark City’ as the film is all about the mystery of John Murdoch, but even further, the mystery of the ‘Dark City’. We have two versions of the film on Blu-ray, both the ‘Theatrical’ and ‘Director’s Cut’s’. The ‘Director’s Cut’ does a great job in allowing Proyas to go all out and fix any of the story that may have felt compressed originally to the ‘Theatrical Cut’ narrative. While the ‘Director’s Cut’ fleshes the story out more, the ‘Theatrical’ feels like it is moving at a faster pace of a film.
New Line Cinema does an unbelievable job with this transfer on Blu-ray as the standard DVD doesn’t even compare. With ‘Dark City’ being a very dark film, the details are astonishing and really bring this film even more to life. The image was very pristine too due to all the dark colors throughout the film. The sound is offered in DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 mix that sounds very good for a film from the 90’s. Everything sounds crisp, from the dialogue to the intense heavy scenes.
I have kept this review very short for a reason; this is a film that you must experience for yourself without anyone spoiling any points. ‘Dark City’ has had a cult like following over the years that has grown over time and it will continue to grow. I see ‘Dark City’ 20 years from now to be the next ‘Blade Runner’, which in the same vein of genre films experienced the similar type of popularity over time.