For all of the acclaim Dark City received after its initial, disastrous theatrical release in 1998 -- movie-of-the-year and DVD commentary honors from Roger Ebert; cult adoration; an eventual director's cut -- it probably still hasn't reached anywhere close to the number of people who saw, say, The Matrix (released just about a year later). Perhaps this has to do with the way the film shrouds its ideas in noir mystery rather than cyberpunk fashion; if The Matrix turned a broad audience into geeks who wanted to know kung fu, Dark City seemed ready-made for those whose geekery was established, though the film is broad enough to welcome nerds of the film, sci-fi, and perhaps even architecture varieties.
The Matrix is not a random comparison, mind you; the two films toy with similar ideas about the meaning of humanity, memory, and self-perception (they also share a second-unit director, though unless he is a brilliant stealth screenwriter, it is probably a coincidence). Dark City, directed by Alex Proyas, is less thrilling and sleek than its cousin, but equally imaginative, full of twisty images and clever synthesis of the movies that inspired it. It gives geeks a good name.
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