Complex plot destroys movie

Director Alex Proyas’ latest film, Dark City (New Line Cinema), does not live up to his earlier movie, The Crow. Similar gothic images pervade, but only glimpses of The Crow’s original feeling remain.

The Australian-born Proyas found fame by directing the 1994 hit in which the star, Brandon Lee, tragically died while working on the movie. Proyas combined the darkness of The Crow with elements of a Star Trek movie – creating an extremely confusing, yet interesting plot.

John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell, Cold Comfort Farm) wakes one morning to find himself accused of committing a series of murders. The audience learns that not only did Murdoch commit murders he doesn’t remember, but he also has an entire life he can’t recall. Murdoch’s loss of memory is caused by a black-shrouded, eerie-looking underworld race, the Strangers, who are manipulating everyone’s minds.

Murdoch and his psychologist, Dr. Daniel Shrieber, played by the always-nasty Kiefer Sutherland (A Time to Kill), are the only two people who have any idea what is happening.

Proyas, who wrote, directed and produced Dark City, drew from The Crow for inspiration. It is almost as if Proyas used the same exact scenery and sets. Little-known Sewell models his performance after Brandon Lee’s. Two problems arise from that – Sewell is no Lee and Dark City is a far cry from The Crow. Sewell, a newcomer to American audiences, stars opposite Catherine McCormick in Dangerous Beauty, opening the same night.

The movie does have some strong individual performances. William Hurt (Michael) does an excellent job as the police detective who begins to realize something strange is happening. Jennifer Connelly (Inventing the Abbotts) plays Murdoch’s wife, or is she really his wife?

The dialogue between the characters is strained at times, and little chemistry sparks between any of the actors. A weak attempt at a love story is thrown into the middle of everything and does nothing but enhance the confusion.

Although the movie has an interesting premise, if audiences decide to spend money on this one, they probably will leave perplexed – and certainly disappointed if expecting another Crow.Dark City opens Friday.

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