DVD Review #16: Dark City (Director’s Cut) (1998)

February 16, 2010 at 6:08 AM | Posted in DVD Reviews, Sci-Fi | Leave a comment

Sometimes, don’t you feel sort of like a… mammal in a series of hallways?

Far be it from me to deny that I once again don’t really remember the original cut of this well enough to tell what’s different. But I will say, the film isn’t any worse. There was nothing wrong with it to begin with (I don’t remember the voice-over, nor did it spoil the surprises for me), but it’s not lessened by any additional material.


I did notice while I was watching this, that many lines of dialogue were familiar to the point that I wanted to quote them along with the film. And that’s very odd, as I’m sure I’ve only seen this once or twice, not counting the previous DVD’s commentaries a few years ago. I’ve mentioned before that brilliance is memorable (although I didn’t say it in such a brilliant way), and this must be no exception.

I’ll just go ahead and say I love this movie. Any version. You couldn’t really fuck it up. It’s not exactly deep. The sci-fi is interesting, but by no means plausible or a vision of any future. But it’s a fantastic film, and I own the official hat.

The incredible similarities to The Matrix are enough to make me want to write an essay comparing the two, but more in a superficial way than a philosophical way. That stuff is obvious. But the trivial coincidence between the films, made roughly at the same time and oblivious of each other, is almost shockingly fascinating.

Roger Ebert’s commentary for the first 20 minutes is newly recorded, as it is for any additional material and scene extensions. The rest of the commentary is (very different) clips from the original DVD release ten years previous.

The writers discuss inspiration, interpretations, intentions, and influences on their track, which mostly doesn’t comment on what’s on screen. It sounds like it was compiled from interviews, but rather than seeming written or rehearsed, it’s more like rambling about various topics. I can only assume it would have been better had they been actually watching the film, but as the writers were obviously recorded separately, this technique seems to be used in order to give each person equal airtime.

Alex Proyas also discusses the story in his commentary, and while it’s never boring, it might have been nice to hear someone discuss the production or some aspect other than the writing. However, it’s still welcome to hear the director himself, who was not heard on the DVD for The Crow.

The bonus materials start with a five minute introduction to the director’s cut by Roger Ebert and Alex Proyas, briefly discussing the film, explaining the film’s following and basically just pitching the DVD.

“Memories of Shell Beach” is a 42 minute “making of” feature, full of insight, but lacking much actual “behind the scenes” footage. It’s a typical retrospective, with lots of interviews, some clips, a few stills and a couple of storyboards. It is, like most of the disc, an intellectual discussion of the film.

There’s also a 30 minute featurette with a handful of “interpretations” of the film, and while I found the first two or three utterly boring, when it got around to Roger Ebert and the DIRECTOR, I wished that more films had features like this. It’s the kind of stuff that makes me excited about good movies. Of course, most movies aren’t very good, and a feature like this on Barb Wire would be unbearable to watch.

A production gallery and a trailer fill up the rest of the disc. There’s a link in the box to a digital copy online, but nobody cares about that.

Generally, it’s a great DVD, though I would have prefered more in-depth coverage of the production. Such as designs for Schreiber’s restraining device, how they built it, and how they made sure it functioned. Big stunt movies don’t have much of interest to explore in this area, but a movie like this is in the details. I’d easily purchase a feature length proper documentary about it.

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