Dark City Directors Cut (Blu-Ray)

Cover Art and Menus: 10
Cover? Love it. Oh, thank goodness for that! The design is interesting and bold with a touch of that Metropolis era. It doesn’t scream Dark City, but I can forgive that since I would love to even have a poster of this image..shocking! There is an actual menu with a cool image from the movie, and then magically when you look again you get a new version of the menu. That’s a cool little touch in the days of the new fancy Blu-Ray menus.

Features: 9/10

  • Introduction By Alex Proyas – Proyas is a talker, and that makes for a good listening. That Australian accent doesn’t hurt πŸ™‚ He talks about the movie but doesn’t spoil anything about the story. I still watched it after the movie. No reason to risk a chatty intro that ruins something for me.
  • Memories Of Shell Beach (Making Of) – This is an excellent retrospective of the making of this 1998 movie. The director, stars, cinematographer, and others talk about how this independent but high budget movie made it through the studio process.
  • Architecture Of Dreams – This is good, but kind of uneventful. Some philosophy folks get a hold of the story and chew on it for a while. They throw out a lot of references to other things. If you like to think deep thoughts about movies and story telling great, just don’t rely on other people to tell you what to think.
  • Production Gallery – The star of the movie happens to be into photography so we get lucky to see a bunch of the photos he took while on the set of Dark City. This is not that blah kind of photo gallery. It’s not just a slide show. There is some talkin’ and stuff to make it a bit more exciting.
  • Text Essays – They have included reviews and even a comparison to Metropolis. Text though? Let’s not go crazy with the technology people!
  • Neil Gaiman Review Of Dark City – One of the written essays included in the text portion of this high definition DVD..clever.
  • Directors Cut Fact Track – If you don’t want to watch both versions of the film, this extra outlines the differences.
  • Theatrical Trailer – Since this is a decade old, I do like seeing the trailer. However, it’s not an extra in my opinion.
  • Multiple Audio Commentary Tracks – Excellent commentaries. I enjoy the movie enough to watch it with all the different ones. There is even on by Roger Ebert, now that’s cool.
  • Digital Copy Of The Movie – For your PC, laptop, or small personal audio video player that might be white. It’s a good thing to have on a Blu-Ray since they won’t play on any other device, so it’s cool to be able to take this movie with you wherever you go, just in case you need a bit of darkness and mind bending conceptual thinking to get you through your day.

Movie: 9/10
Thinking. It’s not a favorite activity for a lot of movie goers, let’s be honest. When a movie comes along that gives me the opportunity to think about a few things without explaining every little detail to me like I’m an idiot, I’m a happy movie lover.

The director’s cut of Dark City does not include the fabled voice over that they had the nerve to released back in 98. This is called a studio hijack. They take a perfectly good movie that has a specific look, attitude, and concept, and then they twist it around to be more mainstream. It’s also called a “dummied down” version of a movie those cute little people in suits like to dish out just in case we are all idiots.

Dark City takes us for a ride on the coat tails of a man who wakes up confused. He doesn’t know who he is or what’s going on. Hey, I feel that way about 42% of the time. The key here is that I was so intrigued by all the elements the movie was throwing at me I was confused along with him. That’s a huge bonus for me. I got the chance to see this version of the film the way it was intended to be, a bit dizzying, with lots of questions to think about while you soak up the dark brooding style.

A man searching for his identity is not a new story. Seriously, how many times can we retell the same tale of human discovery, personal identity, and the question of “What makes a human human?” The difference between this retelling and other retellings of the same story is that Dark City….it’s really really good.

I love the look, dark (obviously), with some very groovy special effects. The city is fantastic. There where moments when I was watching and was completely engrossed in the world Proyas created. That’s one of those things that reminds me of why I love movies. Come on, that’s big!!

The performances are mixed for me. I liked everyone except for Kiefer Sutherland. His character was supposed to be weasely and weird, but he just didn’t appeal to me at all. He had a strange and distracting breathing and talking style that really irritated me. I can’t remember if I have ever thought he was good in anything, but he must have been. After all, he’s Kiefer Sutherland, he must be good at something. Everyone else was a pleasure to watch.

The music and sound are epic. The visual effects are pretty amazing for 1998. I can’t say enough what an excellent experience this movie is. It’s fun, deep, gorgeous, action packed, dialogue heavy, smart, clever, and I imagine it would smell good if given the chance. πŸ™‚

I appreciate a thinking person’s movie. I like questions, loose ends, wondering about things, being emerged in a world that’s familiar but so different I can’t even describe it. Which is annoying since I am supposed to be writing a review.

Audio & Video (By Ascully) 9/10
Dark City is exactly what it says on the box.It’s a movie about a DARK city. This makes it a awesome challenging movie for the new Blu-Ray format. Most of the film is composed of super dark shadowy shots that are handled perfectly in this HD presentation. I have read several other reviews complaining that the movie is to dark but that is actually the point. It’s exactly as the director intended. From the opening shot of the dark night sky to the end shots (without spoiling the movie) that are not dark, this 50GB Blu-Ray disc handles it all with ease. There are some scenes that seem artificially touched up during the authoring process (DNR) which gives some close up shots a little less detail than there should be, but it’s infrequent and will only be noticeable to the most picky viewer.

Audio comes courtesy of a DTS 7.1 master audio soundtrack that is in a word, riveting. This was my first time viewing the movie, and the audio is one of the things I will remember for some time to come. The noise the Strangers make is chillingly inserted into the surround track and will make the hairs on your neck stand on end. The few action scenes in the movie (there are not many this is more a dialog driven affair) wake up the subwoofer but this doesn’t happen that often. Overall older movies like this one are the kind of gems that find a new life on Sony’s next generation disc. I look forward to other movies of this type (cough “Naked Lunch” cough) in the not too distant future.

Value: 8/10
$23, even I can get my debit card out for that price. I always complain about DVD prices. It takes a combination of great movie, extras, and cool packaging to make me want to own a DVD for full price. Dark City on Blu-Ray fits all the requirements. It’s a great one to have on the shelf for future watching and sharing with Dark City virgins.

Overall Score 9/10