About three or four years ago, I bought Dark City on DVD, after hearing that it was like The Matrix, but with a good story. Now, to be fair, The Matrix does have a good story, but I still maintain that it isn’t anything particularly original – it was just well told (I’m not going to deign to discuss the other two Matrix movies). Dark City, however, was supposed to have a truly original science fiction story with a great atmosphere and visuals.
Like the Matrix, Dark City plays around with the question of the nature of reality and its fluidity. From there, the two movies diverge. The Matrix is straightforward, slick and well produced, and of course it had stunning special effects. Dark City is fast, initially confusing but somehow more profound and affecting in its emotion. While it doesn’t have the jawdropping special effects of The Matrix, it’s still very respectable and what it does do fits into the story perfectly; when you see the city itself gradually writhe into a new configuration, buildings stretching and twisting into new styles, it looks both incredible and normal.
Unfortunately I managed to spoil practically the entire plot of Dark City before I watched it, so it didn’t seem confusing at all to me and the nature of the story lost quite a bit of its impact on me. Even so, I still thought it was an excellent movie (and so do many movie reviewers). For this reason, I suggest that you go and check out the DVD – and don’t read any spoilers.