Saturday, March 08, 2014

Will this review ever see the light of day? (Dark City Review)

Note:  This is another review that was originally posted on   I've reposted it here with a few modifications.

I had heard about Dark City from someone somewhere and for some reason, I thought I’d rent it. The premise looked pretty good. A guy named Murdoch wakes up to find that he has apparently committed a murder, but has no memory of it. I figured that at worst, I’d have something to watch on a night when nothing was on TV. I’m still debating if reruns would have been better.

The premise is pretty simple. This dying race of aliens, known as The Strangers, has taken a group of humans to experiment on. The race is dying and somehow thinks that humanity may be able to save them. They’re trying to see if they can figure out what the human soul is. They’re conducting a grand experiment that seems to hinge on Murdoch.

It turns out that Murdoch has some sort of special ability. I’m not going to say what that is, but it allows him to throw a monkey wrench in to The Strangers’ plan. This is in part because he likes to ask a lot of questions, such as why no one can tell him how to leave town or how it is than an entire day goes by without anyone having seen the sun. (I think this special ability was supposed to provide the answer to the Stranger's problem.)

I have to admit that it’s a very confusing story. It’s never explained why the human soul was supposed to provide a solution. The Strangers are part of some sort of collective species, kind of like the Borg from Star Trek. They may think that individuality is the way to go. It’s possible that their collective nature is what doomed them. I think that it was The Strangers intent to program humans with their memories so as to allow something of their race to continue on.

It’s also never explained where the rest of humanity is. You’re left to assume that the Earth is still out there somewhere and that The Strangers just took a small group of test subjects. The thing is that no one can remember anything other than what The Strangers fed them and The Strangers aren’t in the mood to explain anything. The one human character that’s not part of the experiment, Dr. Schreber, erased a good portion of his memories so as not to be fed new ones every night.

The movie reminded me of a book called The Identity Matrix by Jack L. Chalker. I have to say that I liked the book more than this one. I don’t really know what it was. It’s like I want to like it, but something just didn’t click with me. I’ll probably end up watching the movie again in a few years and wondering why I didn’t like it sooner.

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