A Scanner Darkly - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Scanner Darkly Reviews

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October 15, 2017
People don't give this movie enough credit, a 100 minute movie that is rotoscoped, which is probably the longest type of animation made from a novel, i think as a animation student that this movie is one of the greats.
October 14, 2017
Unique Strange I liked it.
September 28, 2017
Indie movie with a very interesting filming style. Based on a very thought-provoking book about the war on drugs. Impressive cast creates believable characters. There is a lot of filler dialog that might bore some people, but for some the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle nuances of each character are an absolute delight. The live film - to - animation style works very well for this movie because of the subject matter, creating a dream-like or drugged state in the viewer as they are slowly trying to decipher what's real.
April 7, 2017
Good adaptation of a popular Philip K. Dick novel
March 17, 2017
This was interesting, slightly disturbing, really cool. Worth watching.
March 13, 2017
A visually stunning movie....
½ February 18, 2017
What a film. It was made in 2006, but still feels ahead of its time in 2017. It's hard to believe this is from the same guy who made the Before trilogy, Boyhood and School of Rock - it's uncharacteristically bleak for Linklater, but he seems just as much at ease on the dark side as he is on the light. The animation is brilliant, and is instantly far more memorable than the generic CGI fest you'd get if this story were adapted as a big budget movie. Liked the performances a lot too. Pre-Iron Man RDJ and Woody Harrelson are especially great.
February 18, 2017
Hard to follow...but the cartoon effect was very interesting. The story was sad for the Keanu character, and you're left with open questions at the end.
February 15, 2017
Works in a pinch. It's a slight adaptation of perhaps Dicks most understated work. It's not a patch on the novel and holds nearly none of the nuances found there. But it's an interesting distraction for sure.
December 22, 2016
Incredible movie. Both a faithful adaptation and a visionary work of art, this film is a stunning tale of drug addiction combined with authoritarian governments that is both thrilling and compelling, and is supported by phenomenal animation and stellar performances from its cast, especially Downey Jr., Harrelson, Cochrane and Reeves.
½ December 11, 2016
A really interesting art style, but a dull plot which basically revolves around the fact that drugs make you paranoid, and controlling them makes you powerful. Should have been more.
November 24, 2016
Still a cool concept but not as good the second time around.
September 24, 2016
The truest movie that is based upon Philip K dick books and topics (the drug abuse and the damages that produces to the body of a person, the unrecognizability of the reality and of the self) that I've watched so far. And thus the most difficult to follow. The cast is unbelievable, I dare to say that I never watched a movie with such a cast, with 3 actors and an actress that could be lead actors in any movie they would want to, immediately before (Robert Downey Jr and Woody Harrelson) or after (Keanu Reeves) the peek of their careers. Not to mention Richard Linklater, that maybe cannot be defined as a cult director, but directed some really cult movies throught his life. But then "A Scanner Darkly" is a movie for really small audiences, so niche, with a very particular cartoonish style, that everything logically strides. You don't get a WOW effect, just because you are too surprised even for that.
½ September 21, 2016
Such an amazing travel, I don't really know what to thing about 'A Scanner Darkly', even though it's pretty fucked up, it's beautifully broken. The performances from Reeves and Ryder gave me the chills, I swear I'll never do drugs.
September 18, 2016
Visually radical stellar movie that holds your attention!
August 13, 2016
1940's Fantasia Is My Tenth Favorite Film.
July 8, 2016
This was both really interesting and really disappointing. I had heard a million great things about this movie, none of which made any sense, and still I didn't watch it. I hate watching any movie that everybody in the country is talking about because I hate watching any movie that I don't get to watch completely fresh and unprepared. So "A Scanner Darkly" got to sit around for, I dunno, a decade or so until I couldn't remember the last time somebody had mentioned it. I knew the basic premise: Keanu Reeves and some other actors get rotoscoped into some weird futuristic dystopia, hooray. It sounded pretty boring, actually. But in the intervening years I've grown to respect Keanu Reeves, and now I felt I could watch this movie with an even temperament. The film itself is one of those drug house movies. You know the ones, where there's a bunch of people doing drugs trying to live together. That's a genre, right? "Drug house movie"? Any ways, it's not too boring. It has a drop-off ending but you know what, it's Philip K. Dick and it's heart-touching in its sincerity. 4/5
½ June 26, 2016
Though this book was written in the 70s it is surprising accurate today. A Scanner Darkly paints a shocking portrait of drug abuse and surveillance.  I recommend this movie.
Super Reviewer
May 31, 2016
In 2001, director Richard Linklater delivered a little-seen, gem of a film called Waking Life. Many didn't pay notice to it which is one of many a film viewers biggest mistakes. Granted, the philosophical material may not have been everyone's idea of entertainment but this film pioneered a filmmaking technique that, simply, shouldn't have been overlooked. Linklater approached Waking Life with an animation method called "Rotoscoping". Basically it was animation added over live actors and it's a process that can be painstaking to deliver. The results were hugely effective for the material and, five years later, he decided to use the technique again on his adaptation of Philip K. Dick's paranoid science fiction novel, A Scanner Darkly. Once again, the results are very impressive.

In the near future, Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) an undercover cop, is given the assignment to bring down a vast network of drug distribution, dealing in "Substance D" which is highly addictive and mind altering. He fully immerses himself in the lifestyle, to the point were he has become an addict himself and even his superiors don't know his cover story. As a result, they order him to spy on himself. Being under the influence regularly, it causes him to lose his grip on reality where nothing is clear anymore.

Before this film went into production, it had gained interest from a couple of notable players in the film industry. Director Terry Gilliam was interested in the early 90's and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman had actually drafted a screenplay that was eventually unused once he became more sought after following the success of Being John Malkovich. One can only wonder at what might have become of an adaptation had they been involved but that doesn't lessen the fact that Linklater does a sterling job here. For a start, his decision to implement the interpolated rotoscoping animation again is a stroke of genius. On Waking Life it complimented the existential dream-like story and it's used similarly on this film. It's a technique that could be in danger of overuse but when the story and characters themselves are operating from an occasional surreal point of view, rotoscoping is perfectly fitting. It serves as a metaphor for the characters' drug induced alternate realities and allows us to identify with their paranoia and the struggle with their personal identity. You'd be forgiven for thinking that it might take away from the actors performances but it doesn't. In some ways it enhances them. Reeves is an actor that has came in for some criticism throughout his career but he's really rather good here and the support, from Harrelson and especially Downey Jr, is excellent. Who better to be included in a film of substance abuse than a couple of actors who have dabbled with both herbal and chemical remedies in their time?

The script is also very faithful to Philip K. Dick's own source material. You can tell Linklater has invested a lot of his time in adapting, what is essentially, some of Dick's own paranoid thoughts â" he was heavily involved in the abuse of amphetamines and psychedelics at the time of writing it and explores the usual themes involved in his novels; the sociological and political aspects of human society under the control of an authoritarian government. If your a fan of Dick's musings then you'll find them all here. Some may find fault with the film's slightly lethargic pace but the visuals and thought provoking content are so captivating that the pace can be forgiven. Sometimes Philip K. Dick's stories are not afforded the proper treatment in movies; there are stinkers like Nicolas Cage's Next and Ben Affleck's Paycheck but this ranks very highly alongside the successful adaptations like Total Recall and Blade Runner.

Linklater's attention and commitment to Philip K Dick's challenging material pays off and he produces a thought-provoking head-trip of a film that delivers both intellectually and visually.

Mark Walker
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