A SCANNER DARKLY
MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Philip K. Dick’s semi-autobiographical tale of drugs and betrayal in a not-too-distant future is brought to life by Richard Linklater with a unique rotoscoping animation process. Keanu Reeves plays a detective who is deep undercover with drug dealers in Los Angeles. His necessary addiction causes him to come under fire in his job, and his personal relationships are also strained in the process of busting the Substance D production and distribution line.
WHAT I LIKED
I haven’t read much of Philip K. Dick, but I have seen several of the films of his work. I’ve heard that there hasn’t yet been a really faithful adaptation of his writing before, but that this is a relatively good shot. So bully for all those Dickheads out there.
The best part of this film is the look that the rotoscoping animation gives it. Sure, it’s been done before, but it is this continual special effect that makes the movie more than just an everyday drug culture film. Additionally, the science fiction elements of the scanner suit (which scrambles the wearer’s appearance) and the new drug Substance D help give a fresh perspective on this movie.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Even though I can appreciate what this film does and what it sets out to accomplish, I really wasn’t wild about the story. This is part of Dick’s original story, but I got bored with the random diversions into the long-winded conversations of the drug culture. The acting is good, and it’s always funny to watch Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey Jr. act doped up (something they have plenty of experience with in the method acting department), but it’s really quite aimless.
The Blu-ray comes with a commentary with Keanu Reeves, Linklater, producer Tommy Pallotta, author Jonathan Lethem and Isa Dick Hackett, Philip K. Dick’s daughter. This is actually a pretty nice commentary track simply because it offers plenty of perspectives on the film, especially Dick’s daughter’s take on the whole process.
There’s also the theatrical trailer and the featurette “The Weight of the Line: Animation Tales.”
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Dickheads and fans of Richard Linklater.