Just over ten years ago, heads in the critics circle were turned when the great Roger Ebert proclaimed the so-so reviewed science fiction movie DARK CITY from director Alex Proyas as being the best film of 1998. He was pretty much the only critic in the universe who lauded the film with high grandeur, saying "it stirred my imagination like ``Metropolis'' and ``2001: A Space Odyssey.'' and "that it was a triumph of art direction, set design, cinematography, special effects--and imagination". He would again review the film in 2005 as part of his "Great Movies" series and after so much time had past, he had the same reaction to the film which had pretty much by then fallen into geek obscurity.
I believe more than ever that "Dark City" is one of the great modern films. It preceded "The Matrix" by a year (both films used a few of the same sets in Australia), and on a smaller budget, with special effects that owe as much to imagination as to technology, did what "The Matrix" wanted to do, earlier and with more feeling.
Ebert would record not ONE but TWO audio commentaries for the film's dvd release (both are a delight to listen to, if nothing else to hear a critic completely geek out over a MODERN film and not something made before any of us were born) and it's wonderful to see a film critic, someone as esteemed as Ebert just go completely crazy over a film that most people thought was good, very good but not a "classic". The whole DARK CITY saga reminds me of my own feelings towards VANILLA SKY, a movie that got generally good reviews among the regular critics but soon fell into obscurity but I have lauded the film since and plan to in the future. Maybe I too should do an Ebert styled essay on it? Anyway, this week Ebert has once again geeked out over an Alex Proyas movie, calling the Nicolas Cage disaster movie KNOWING, one of the modern science fiction greats. Yes, that's the movie about the ridiculous numbers and Cage's awful line delivery, his crazy psycho screen persona, that awful embarrassing haircut and very lame plot. Ebert says....
"Knowing" is among the best science-fiction films I've seen -- frightening, suspenseful, intelligent and, when it needs to be, rather awesome.