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Dark City Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    A great visionary achievement, a film so original and exciting, it stirred my imagination like "Metropolis" and "2001: A Space Odyssey."

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  • 58

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Ty Burr

    It's a little short on coherence and long on comic-book sensationalism -- dig the hokey, climactic Battle of the Minds between the hero and a cadaverous Mr. Big -- but there's no denying the nightmarish pull of the film's aesthetic.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today

    Fascinating, visionary filmmaking. With its amber-tinged palette and its distinctively dystopian view of life, it may be the most unique-looking film we've seen in ages...[but] defies logic and makes frightening and unexpected leaps.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    Proyas' movie lacks a truly rich or compelling story -- although the city secret is certainly a rich and compelling idea. All too often, Dark City seems a great production design in search of a movie, an ultimate modern film noir pastiche, in which the images are so strong they overpower the drama. [27 Feb 1998]

  • 88

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Dark City has as stunning a visual texture as that of any movie that I've seen...Visually, this film isn't just impressive, it's a tour de force.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 14+

Mind-stretching, futuristic sci-fi can get gory.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is brief female nudity in a subplot about a helpful prostitute/single mother, though no sex results. She gets murdered for her troubles in helping out the hero, and there are several bloodied corpses plus fantasy violence in which zombie-like beings are decapitated or smashed. The nightmare imagery, recalling ghosts, vampires, and zombies (but with a sci-fi explanation) can be unnerving to sensitive viewers. A "director's cut" DVD lacks the opening narration that explains much of the complicated setup; some viewers might find this non-narrated version confusing.

  • Families can talk about the motivations and actions of "the strangers." The movie never tells us how the Dark City came to be created or humans arrived there. Ask kids if they don't mind that such details are left to the imagination. Do they like this cerebral head trip as much as the more action-focused The Matrix or not, and why?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: In its weird way the film affirms the human spirit and individuality ("the soul"), compared to the super-powered but stagnant and dying alien race that holds people captive here. Even though the hero is set up to think he's a Ripper-like murderer, he really isn't, and even villainous-seeming characters are secretly working toward the liberation of humanity.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Brief shots of bloody victims (female) of knife-killings, with spiral designs cut into flesh. Some of the zombie-like "strangers" get smashed/impaled, and one has the top of his head sheared off. Hypodermic needles plunged into foreheads.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Female nudity (topless and in profile) of a prostitute, bare-butt shot of the hero. Talk of an adulterous affair (which turns out not to have really happened).

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some cigarette smoking, social drinking as backdrop.