Scanners - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Scanners Reviews

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Super Reviewer
May 24, 2016
Watching this I try to imagine Cronenberg's directing his lead actors: "I need you to look as if you're trying to blow somebody's head off ... by only thinking about it." I try to imagine his actors processing that direction: "What exactly does THAT look like? What does this guy want?" All about big government conspiracy, and the rebellion against that, this is some big fun if you can get over the age of the work.
Super Reviewer
½ August 12, 2014
A scientist trains a young man with deadly psychic powers (a "scanner") to infiltrate a group of fellow telepaths bent on world domination. A well-made, uniquely conceived horror thriller, although it lacks the psychological subtexts that make director David Cronenberg's best work dig under your skin.
Super Reviewer
December 4, 2013
A special-effects driven mixed bag of a movie about a group of special people called "scanners" who have the ability to read peoples minds, or if they decide they do not like them or need to make a point, make their heads explode. However, when one ruthless, murdering man named Revok (Michael Ironside) threatens to use his powers to attempt to take over the world, another scanner, Vale (Stephen Lack) makes it his mission to stop him at any cost. The plot is fairly cliché and predictable to a point, with Ironside outshining Lack's performance by a mile thanks to the great intensity and ferocity he gives whenever he is on the screen. It is a largely entertaining movie but it could have used more fleshing out of the story line, one that attempted to throw out at least some surprises once in a while. Far from director David Cronenberg's best works, but ironically, this is the movie that put him on the map so to speak.
Super Reviewer
March 13, 2008
In this sci-fi horror action film from David Cronenberg, the Scanners of the title refer to a group of humans who possess extraordinary and immensely powerful telepathic and telekinetic abilities which essentially sees them becoming social outcasts.

When one of them, Darryl Revok goes rogue and plans to create a scanner army to take over the world, another, Cameron Vale is recruited by a shady corporation named ConSec to bring Revok down.

This film is all over the place. I described it as sci-fi horror action, and while it has some of those qualities, it also kind of exists in its own unique unclassifiable bubble. It's also got mixings of class warfare, prejudice against the superior-abled, and a sense of psychedelia combined with anti-authoritarianism. It's definitely a Cronenberg film alright.

It's a very dated film, but in a pretty cool way. I liked that it reeked of the early 80s, as it gives the proceedings a unique vibe and atmosphere, and a sense of style that you don't really see today. I think we need a lot more chrome and stuff that's blood red in color.

The film does have an eerie and unnerving atmosphere and tone that really help enhance the ridiculous and nutty plot. This is further helped by the set design, cinematography, effects, and Howard Shore's creepy score.

The acting from the lead is admittedly pretty bland and distracting, but Michael Ironside is wonderfully batty and menacing as Revok.

All in all, a weird film, and a bit of a mess. But it's got some cool ideas, is technically well made, and is pretty entertaining, so yeah, give it a watch.
Super Reviewer
November 15, 2010
The beginning of David Cronenberg's career makes the second half of Rob Zombie's career look like Quentin Tarantino's career.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2010
Another great sci-fi horror movie from Cronenberg. The special effects are so cool, and the story is interesting. I love this movie.
Super Reviewer
November 28, 2010
The second major scene sets the tone for the entire film. Two "Scanners," people who have telepathic and telekinetic abilities, do battle. The loser's head explodes. Literally fucking explodes. I've seen my fair share of gore, in real life and in cinema, but this hits a ten on the fucked-up scale. And during the rest of the film, I feared that I was going to see another man's head turn into a watermelon-versus-bottle-rocket horror show. I think this fear is the film's only real achievement. I know we don't watch science fiction for these elements, but the acting is truly horrid, featuring Stephen Lack in the most wooden, forced performance I've seen in a long time, and the dialogue was about as stolid and cliche as anybody can write. Also, I question how a telepath could communicate with a computer; this seems to break the rules the film sets up. Finally, when the Scanners battle, all we get is the sight of straining faces and the sound of a screeching crescendo. I don't know how to improve these moments, but I know that this effect does make for compelling cinema.
Overall, Cronenberg's early work, which I'm seeing for the first time, is not as good - relies too much on gruesomeness - as his later work (cf. Crash and Existenz.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2010
David Cronenberg's film Scanners is one of his best films along with Videodrome. Cronenberg has always had a unique flair to being able to twist an audience's imagination. Scanners is a fascinating film to pushed the boundaries of ones imagination. It's got a pretty good blend of action and horror with a psychological approach that makes Scanners a memorable film. Memorable in the way that it's one psychologically disturbing and terrifying film, and memorable because of the ground breaking special effects. The film also displays a strong performance by Michael Ironside, a formidable character actor as the film Antagonist and Stephen Lack as the films Protagonist. Scanners is a solid Sci Fi horror film and is one of director David Cronenberg's very best films.
Super Reviewer
½ December 24, 2007
Great special effects but an often boring storyline.
Super Reviewer
December 22, 2009
10 Seconds: The Pain Begins. 15 Seconds: You Can't Breathe. 20 Seconds: You Explode.
Super Reviewer
½ May 13, 2008
An interesting premise, poorly executed.
Super Reviewer
½ December 13, 2008
Typical Sci-Fi mystery plot like any good Outer Limits episode. It's not really as much of a horror flick as the publicity material would have you believe and there's no jumpy scenes. Now I know where FSOL got their quotes from for Lifeforms.
Super Reviewer
October 21, 2008
A shadowy organisation recruits a powerful telepath (Stephen Lack) to find and neutralise an equally powerful telepath (Michael Ironside) with world domination on his mind. I must have seen Scanners half a dozen times over the years, and every time I've watched it I've enjoyed it less than I thought I would. I read that it was greenlighted and rushed into production very quickly, without a proper script, and it really does show. The important scenes are all there, but the transitional material threading them all together is perfunctory in the extreme, making the movie relatively fast-paced but difficult to follow; it's like a join-the-dots picture, done in invisible ink!

This lack of connective substance also has the effect of making the hero's investigation seem far too straightforward. For instance, at one point he chances upon a drug vial with a mysterious corporate logo on it, and in the very next scene he's already managed to infiltrate the laboratory that produced it. Cronenberg wraps things up with a piece of logic straight out of the James Bond book of spying: if you snoop around long enough you will eventually be shot with a tranquilliser dart, waking up exactly where you need to be, just in time for the final showdown.

Unusually for Cronenberg, Scanners doesn't even have the saving grace of originality on its side; utilising the same theme - telepaths, exploited by sinister agencies as potential weapons - De Palma's superior The Fury beat Scanners to the screen by nearly three years, and even the soft and cuddly Star Wars saga has a thread of parapsychology running through it. On the subject of Star Wars, the genealogical soap-operatics at the end of Scanners resemble those of The Empire Strikes Back!
Super Reviewer
½ September 1, 2007
Very quirky. It's not terrible. It's not great. It just is. And what it is is worth seeing at least once.
Super Reviewer
July 12, 2007
Extremely subtle, gory and fun attempt of an action/sci-fi thriller with the usual Cronenberg trademarks such as machinery of evil and horror from within. The creepy Michael Ironside, the exploding head and the final scanner duel make the film worthwhile.
Super Reviewer
½ October 23, 2007
Terrible, with two capital T's. Like this- TTerrible. The only good parts are when the bad guy blows up a dude's head in the very beginning, and when...oh wait, no that was the only good part. And the ending? The movie has all kinds of stuff to wrap up, and instead the bad guy magically sucks up the mind of his brother and they are one. Then end. Wow. Crap.
Super Reviewer
½ June 11, 2006
Paul Ruth: You are 35 years old, Mr. Vale. Why are you such a derelict? Such a piece of human junk? [pause] The answer's simple. You're a scanner, which you don't realize. And that has been the source of all your agony. But I will show you now that it can be a source of great power.

This is a neat sci-fi thriller from director David Cronenberg that has a very good premise that could have been a better movie if the characters were handled better than the plot.

The story involves a select group of humans with an extraordinary power.

Cameron Vale: You called me a scanner. What is that?
Paul Ruth: Freak of nature, born with a certain form of ESP; derangement of the synapses which we call telepathy.

One of these scanners is Cameron Vale. He starts out at the beginning of the movie acting as a bum, before being recruited by a big company to stop another Scanner, played by Michael Ironside.

Ironside's character, Darryl Revok, is a powerful scanner bent on creating scanners all over the world, ruling over them, and getting rid of anyone in his way.

It is now up to Cameron to find Revok and stop him before it is too late.

Opposed to other Cronenberg features, which involve characters facing situations that usually have an extraordinary or at least conflicting dilemma to deal with but keeps its emphasis on the characters, this film is more about its plot, which becomes a little silly. There are evil corporations, people held at gun point with bad guy dialog in there way, and car chases.

Also, Stephen Lack as Cameron Vale is kind of bland. I can see why he was chosen for the part, his eyes are perfect for being a scanner, but the villain Revok is a much more interesting character that we do not see enough of. A movie focusing on him could have been even cooler.

However, the concept of this movie is really good and there are a lot of memorable moments, including the climatic scanner battle, and other scattered moments thanks to the good looking effects and the coolness that is Michael Ironside. Frequent Cronenberg collaborator, Howard Shore, also delivers a good score that works for the film.

Programmer: There's no need for that. It's just internal switching.
Braedon Keller: Yeah? No one's ever switched off a scanner before!
Super Reviewer
½ September 15, 2007
Hoohoohoo! Wouldn't it be great to be able to make people's heads explode? This is such a great argument in favor of fully testing chemicals before releasing them to the general population for consumption. Well written, well acted and such a great take on movies about psychics.
Super Reviewer
½ August 15, 2007
This movie involves dangerous telekinetic individuals who can physically harm people with their minds. This movie had great head-exploding effects, but the story didn't thrill me much. It was sort of like "The Fury" and "The Brood". Michael Ironside is great as one of the scanners. It looked and felt very Canadian, which it was.
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