Victims: Fans of dark Sci-Fi Fantasy films.
Both are about a non-human race attempting to use human beings as a means for their own survival. Both have themes of a “chosen one” who gains special powers which enable him to rise against the opposing forces of Evil and liberate what is left of mankind.
In The Matrix human beings are plugged into a computer system and essentially used as batteries for the robots that wiped out mankind. The Earth itself has been decimated into a post-nuclear wasteland and any humans left outside the clutches of the robots have been driven underground.
In the Dark City an alien race holds the human race captive within a city where the sun never shines . . . hence the name. Clever. They are known as the strangers and refer to themselves with very simple names like Mr. Hand or Mr. Foot. With the reluctant help of Dr. Shreber they interchange memories of the human beings they’ve captured trying to figure out the nature of the human condition. Probably the eeriest thing about this movie is that there is no mention of Earth. It’s almost as if the humans don’t even know what it is to be human anymore.
The Matrix has the look and feel of a live-action anime film while Dark City has more of a Film Noir style to it. But . . . .
THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE!!!!?
Story! Upon researching this particular blog post I discovered that while Dark City was completely conceived by Proyas and two other screenwriters the Matrix was NOT completely conceived by the Wachowski brothers. Allegedly of course. There was a law-suit brought against them by a female sci-fi screenwriter Sophia Stewart in 1999. She claims that the Matrix is based on a manuscript titled “The Third Eye” that she sent the Wachowski brothers in 1986 in response to an ad in a magazine. It’s a pretty interesting case which I have chosen to detail in another blog post due to it’s complexities.
Although Dark City wasn’t a mainstream success the film did garner a cult following. Every time I have watched it this very ominous feeling comes over me and I love it. One of the best performances in the film was that of Mr. Hand played by Richard O’Brien.
You might recognize him from . . .
Here is a scene where Mr. Hand (O’Brien) confronts Dr. Schreber (Kiefer Southerland).
O’Brien creates a sinister character that adds to the unnerving nature of the film. It’s like that feeling you get when someone scraps their fingernails across a chalk board.
I am giving this one to Dark City not because The Matrix was a bad film, but because stylistically it is the more mature of the two films and severely underrated. Dark City is also the more original of the two films. I think we can all honestly say that there hasn’t been a film quite like this before or after, but I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it. Although The Matrix is well told it is still just a story about humans who have been enslaved or harmed by man-made artificial intelligence.
Terminator? I-Robot? It’s a commonly used plot device. Mind you not on such a large action packed scale. But common none the less. If you are one of the many who tossed Dark City aside I STRONGLY recommend giving it a chance. It is a very beautifully artistic film and a great example of masterful sci-fi storytelling.