So why have I never seen this before? I’m sure it was a film I fully intended to see back when it came out, or failing that (as I did) at least I should’ve seen it at home before now… Have I missed it on TV? Probably several times. I don’t know why, cos it was a film I actually did have an interest in seeing… Anyway, JB Hifi were having one of their 3-for-the-price-of-2 DVD sales recently, so I picked it up then… the “director’s cut”, too, which I gather is the version to go for; I don’t know all the differences but I understand the biggest change is the removal of a spoileriffic narration at the start of the film. Apparently the studio insisted on this so the audience wouldn’t be stumped by the film, and to a certain degree I can understand their fear; Dark City takes its sweet damn time in unveiling its secrets and is quite happy to leave you scratching your head with the letters W, T and F. I think everything does come together in the end, although I think there’s a few loose ends even so, but I will give it credit for not just being the style over substance affair I was initially expecting (especially cos that was pretty much how I viewed The Crow and Spirits of the Air Gremlins of the Clouds, the other two Alex Proyas films I’ve seen) and which a lot of critics seem to have accused it of being. Not that style doesn’t reign supreme, of course, and once you get past the narrative mystery the visual aspect is by far the film’s most engaging element; the stunning look of the thing really is its chief attraction. By the end I wound up liking it rather more than I thought I was going to for the first 45 minutes or so, though I’m not sure it’s quite the underappreciated masterpiece the accompanying DVD features would like to paint it as.
Dark City (1998)