Movie Copycats # 6: Mr Hand and Mr Book have some ‘Splaining to do, yes?

Victims: Fans of dark Sci-Fi Fantasy films.


Dark City - New Line Cinema February (1998) Co-Written/Directed by Alex Proyas

The Matrix - Warner Bros. March (1999) Written/Directed by the Wachowski Brothers


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.

Matrix 1999

Dark City 1998


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.

Matrix - 1999

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.

Dark City - 1998

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 . . . .


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.

Check it out here.

Standout Performances:

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 . . .

Ever After - Where he played the skeevy pirate prince guy trying to get in Drew Barrymore's pants.

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.

The Verdict:

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.


About Jessica Vazquez

I am gamer who enjoys writing about video games and various other topics of the eccentric kind.
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3 Responses to Movie Copycats # 6: Mr Hand and Mr Book have some ‘Splaining to do, yes?

  1. Richard O’Brien was also the conceiver and co-star of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He played Riff-Raff.

  2. Really! I thought he played that role in stage productions of the show, that’s why I didn’t mention it. Damn nice call Nick.

  3. Pingback: Movie Scandal Makers #2: Terminator Taboo | whataconceptblog

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