Huge failure at the Box Office, this great sci-fi film that influenced Matrix is ​​a must-see – Actus Ciné

Released in 1998 and killed at the Box Office by the “Titanic” steamroller, Alex Proyas’ “Dark City” is a great science fiction film. If his circle of fans has fortunately widened since then, this nugget is still too little known.

In 1994, the filmmaker Alex Proyas struck hard with The Crow, a formidable adaptation of the comic-book created by the American James O’Barr. A cursed film too, since it will be bereaved by the accidental death of its main interpreter, Brandon Lee, with a firearm which had to be loaded blank. If the producers will try several times to rinse the franchise with sequels and even a TV series worn by Mark Dacascos in the title role, we especially remember the work of Alex Proyas.

Buoyed by the success of the film with its $94 million in box office receipts worldwide, Proyas has free rein to box his next film, Dark City. A project he had in mind long before, and which was dear to him.

Either the story of the (mis)adventures of John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell), who wakes up in a hotel room and discovers the corpse of a woman at his side. He doesn’t remember the night he spent with her, nor the nights that preceded it: he’s lost his memory.

Hunted by the police who suspect him of being a serial killer and pursued by the Strangers, mysterious beings with terrifying powers, he seeks to find his identity. But in a city where reality is just an illusion, the truth is beyond imagination…

Torpedoed by Titanic

In a cruel run-in with the release schedule, Dark City was unfortunate enough to release barely a month after James Cameron’s steamroller Titanic, which largely cannibalized the box office and devastated everything in its path. The slap at the Box Office will be scathing, and will even have the force of a hell of an uppercut: Dark City will only pick up crumbs, with $27 million on the clock.

A real injustice, as the SF film has obvious qualities. Visually stunning, bathed in a fantastic neo-noir universe taking up the codes of thriller, Dark City mixes many references and not only visual ones, like that of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, the most obvious.

Via Brazil by Terry Gilliam; Blade Runner and its dark and disenchanted future. Or even Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo, for his dantesque clashes. It is an understatement to say that the sublime photography by Dariusz Wolski does justice to the film, making the city in question a fascinating character in its own right.

Metropolitan FilmExport

Prefiguring Matrix by questioning the free will of humanity, carried by an original scenario and a rather solid casting (with nevertheless a Rufus Sewell in withdrawal because not always very expressive) in the middle of which we find a Kiefer Sutherland not still subscribed to the role of Jack Bauer, Dark City does not suffer from several viewings. On the contrary, it grows richer and always improves a little more.

We highly recommend the version Director’s Cut of the film, longer by 15 min, which offers a subtly different editing, the disappearance of the intro in voiceover, and the appearance of new secondary characters. It will nevertheless be necessary to turn exclusively to the Blu-ray / DVD to discover this version; Unfortunately, the film is not available for streaming.

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