Box art for Dark City

Dark City

sci-fi & fantasy, thrillers

A man suffering memory loss attempts to clear himself of a string of grisly murders

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 14
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
0 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
3 out of 5
4 out of 5

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.

what families can talk about

  • 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?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 26
    see all Dark City reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Proyas floods the screen with cinematic and literary references ranging from Murnau and Lang to Kafka and Orwell, creating a unique yet utterly convincing world.

- Andrea C. Basora, Newsweek, Monday, April 28, 2008

Fresh: Was "The Matrix" before "The Matrix" was ever in the pop culture lexicon...

- Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed, Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fresh: Dark City has as stunning a visual texture as that of any movie that I've seen.

- James Berardinelli, ReelViews, Saturday, January 1, 2000

Audience Reviews

3 stars

A bit hack thematically, very digital, absolutely breakneck pacing visually and plotwise, dreamy illogical... kinda cool hyper-pastiche. Dick Tracy + the Matrix

- fb1019018362, Monday, December 3, 2012

3 stars

Director Alex Proyas already proved with The Crow that he knows how to film gloomy cities. His approach here is even more fantastic, combining elements of the film noir and science fiction to tell the story of an amnesiac in his lone struggle to find the truth while fighting off a mysterious cult of floating men. The result is wonderfully odd, very entertaining and unpredictable, with lots of references to similar themes from literature and film. In the end, despite of a few confusing scenes and a couple of wasted opportunities or characters, a very satisfying film.

- ironclad1609, Tuesday, October 2, 2012

4 stars

Released around the same time as the more action-savvy "Matrix", "Dark City" explores the similar fundamental properties of what can be defined as the soul. Superbly acted and directed, it blends well-executed aspects of Film Noir, with the premises of scientific experimentation, mental evolution and the expansion of consciousness. The concept of personal memories and experiences as an ability that is often taken for granted, and the torture of an existence of collective memory are thoroughly explored. Though the effects can sometimes come across as a bit dated, the film is a testament to human dexterity as well as a sci-fi adventure not easily forgotten.

- tolkienfan101, Monday, March 19, 2012