Now the film plays as it was intended, as a mystery. A mister (Rufus Sewell) wakes up in a bath, and due to being in the water for a good long while, he suffers from severe prune feet. In top quality noir thriller style he has no memory. As he starts to piece together the clues he begins to suspect that me may have previously partaken in a spot of murdering. But who are these shady figures that seem to be lurking around... The clues all fall into place over the course of the film and everything is revealed (well almost).
Dark City is visually stunning, even now. The lighting used would have suited a black and white film with deep dark shadows and harsh highlights. In fact, I dodged about with the colour setting on my telly and watched it in monochromatic-o-vision. For the most part, it still looked great, and better than the colour version at points. So good that I found it a little disconcerting when I switched back to colour. (Similarly The Mist is brilliant in black and white but that was purposely shot that way.)
The gorgeous Jennifer Connelly - soon to be seen in an upcoming season - plays the man's wife and she participates in my favourite moment of the film. Yep, it's the subwoofer moment. She sings a version of 'Sway' accompanied by some gravel voiced blues guys. The double bass sounds so deep and powerful. I've never quite got it to sound the same as the first time I heard it in that Peterborough cinema but it's still pretty impressive. Play it loud.
Music plays a large part in the proceedings with a large proportion of the film scored. It propels the viewer through the film towards the final climax, paralleling the main character's plight as he tries to unravel the mystery despite being constantly pursued.
Patrick Tatopoulos is one of my favourite designers having worked on Silent Hill, I, Robot and The Cave (okay, maybe The Cave is not the best example). But I think that he was at the top of his game for Dark City. The titular city is indeed dark, and gloomy, and murky, and possibly a bit stinky. The buildings are taken from a number of different time periods and places making it hard to pin down exactly where the city originates from. The city's underworld - in a nifty reversal of Metropolis - is possibly his best work. See for yourself in this explanatory screen shot.
One of the themes the film deals with is where the human soul resides. Is it in memories? If I were to be given the memories of a dancer would my viewpoint on dancers change instantly. Or would I still hate them. The thought of me suddenly appearing as a professional over-acter on 'Stricly Come Dancing' almost gives me an aneurysm so hopefully if someone does changes my memories I'll still be me.
I've tried hard to not give away any of the plot because if you haven't seen this it is well worth your while. The Director's Cut takes away the film-beginner stabilisers and lets you discover the film for yourself without being treated like an idiot. It has a satisfying ending and the only downside for me is the inclusion of William Hurt who despite being okay in this, never totally convinces me. A worthy film for a birthday celebration.
If you like this you could also try:
Blade Runner, Metropolis, Somewhere in the Night.