The critically-acclaimed triumph from visionary director Alex Proyas (I, Robot, The Crow) is back with a brand new directors cut featuring enhanced picture and sound, never-before-seen footage and three commentary tracks that take you deeper than ever before into the world of one of sci-fis most exciting and revered tales. When John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) wakes with no memory at the scene of a grisly murder, he soon finds himself hunted by the police, a woman claiming to be his wife and a mysterious group of pale men who seem to control everything and everyone in the city. Starring Rufus Sewell (The Illusionist), Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind), William Hurt (A History of Violence) and Kiefer Sutherland (TVs 24).
Read my review of Blu-ray Hi-Def Disc after the jump.
Dark City Director’s Cut
Official Site Link: www.darkcity.com
Release Date: July 29, 2008
The basic plot of Dark City goes as follows. J. Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) wakes up one night naked in a hotel. He has no idea who he is or where and why he’s in the hotel. He receives a phone call and an unknown man (Dr. Schreber played by Kiefer Sutherland) tells him that his memory has been erased. Murdoch then discovers a body of a murdered woman nearby and is sent fleeing from a group of dark, shady looking figures. So begins Murdoch’s quest to discover who he is (and eventually what is going on to the city and its residents), all while he’s linked to the murders of six prostitutes which leads Inspector Frank Bumstead (William Hurt) to Murdoch’s estranged ex-wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly).
What you’re basically left with is a movie that combines several different genres: noir, mystery, fantasy and science fiction drawing on classic films of the past (such as Metropolis and Blade Runner). Dark City is somewhat dark and is certainly gloomy. Even in its conclusion you don’t get a tremendous sense of happiness, though the pullback of the city shining with sunlight is a visual treat and a welcome change from the dark and the audience is left with a positive outcome in the end.
The film can certainly be difficult to follow for some (and the studio believed that as well as the theatrical cut includes a voice-over prologue), but those willing to sit down and allow the movie to play through, will be treated with strong characters and solid performances throughout pushed through an impressive script and story and helped by imaginative imagery and flash that still stands out today. You can’t help but be drawn into Murdoch’s dilemma and be captivated by the mystery behind what exactly is going on with the citizens of the ‘Dark City’.
Dark City Director’s Cut comes to DVD and Blu-ray Hi-Def with an ample amount of supplements. First up, the movie is available in two varieties on the disc: original theatrical cut (100 minutes and rated R) and Director’s Cut (111 minutes and Unrated). The first thing you’re bound to notice on the director’s cut is that the voice-over prologue is no longer part of the film. As I noted earlier, it was originally included by the studio because they felt that audiences wouldn’t understand what is a difficult movie to follow. The director’s cut works much better without the prologue, I felt.
If you find it hard to spot the changes between the two versions, there’s a special feature called “Director’s Cut Fact Track” (exclusive to this Blu-ray version) that provides pop-up comparisons between the two versions. Despite being the only exclusive HD content on the disc it’s a nice addition.
Digging more into the supplements, you’re greeted with five separate commentary tracks (two on the theatrical cut and three on the director’s cut):
- Theatrical Cut: with director Alex Proyas, writers Lem Dobbs and David S. Goyer, director of photography Dariusz Wolski and production designer Patrick Tatopoulos
- Theatrical Cut: with film critic Roger Ebert
- Director’s Cut: with director Alex Proyas
- Director’s Cut: with film critic Roger Ebert
- Director’s Cut: with writers David S. Goyer and Lem Dobbs
All are interesting in their own right. I found Ebert’s commentary on the director’s cut to be especially noteworthy.
Two 1998 documentaries also accompany this release; “Memories of Shell Beach” (43-minutes) and “Architecture of Dreams” (33-minutes). There’s also an optional introduction by director Alex Proyas and another by film critic Roger Ebert (5-minutes).
And rounding out the package is a production gallery of photos, text essays (two), Neil Gaiman’s Review of Dark City and a widescreen high-def theatrical trailer. Finally, there’s a second disc included that contains a bonus digital copy of the movie.
As you can see, there is plenty here (especially in the commentary tracks alone) to make for a solid supplement package.
In closing, this is a must-buy for fans of the movie, as the Director’s Cut offers more of what fans already love about the movie and doesn’t sacrifice anything in its changes. And the special features offer an extensive look into the film. I rate this movie and DVD a 4/5. I’ve included some photos and video clips from the movie which you’ll find below.
“I Did That?”
“I So Vividly Remember”
“No More Mr. Quick”
“Save a Dying Fish”