A Scanner Darkly - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Scanner Darkly Reviews

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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
½ April 18, 2016
Certainly an interesting and stylish film with a brilliant premise. Overall though, it's a little bit flat and much messier than it can really afford to be, given how much it's clearly trying to accomplish.

Aesthetically, this is probably one of my favourite films- I love how the plot completely justifies the film being'animated' and even more, I love how the film also actually isn't animated. It just looks beautiful- the perfect mix between digital and real. Further, there's some music from Thom Yorke's The Eraser album in here and I bloody love that album and it fits perfectly with the feel of this film.

The performances are strong too- Reeves and Ryder in particular seemed to fit really well with the film's visual presentation. There's also a lot to like when it comes to the story and, though I haven't read the source material, I certainly want to now.

Unfortunately, too much of the movie just meanders along- it tries to inject a humorous tone which I just don't think ever fits and the scale feels out of whack and ultimately I think it tries to take on too much at once.

A brilliant film in many ways, but a bit of a disappointment in others.
March 8, 2016
An innovative technique for this adult animated film. Don't get lost in the plot or with the dialogues.
½ February 2, 2016
So smart it'll be over most people's heads until the second viewing. The animation is perfect for this type of warped story. It may not be Minority Report but it's classy as can be but cool at the same time.
½ January 17, 2016
This looks like a film that has been put through one of those photo editing aps you get on your phone. Either the animation is impressive, or somebody made this film and thought they'd turn it into a cartoon rather than spend a lot of money on special effects. The story itself is quite hard to follow but you do end up getting the jist of it and it's not too bad. Has quite a few big names in it.
½ January 12, 2016
Great animation, and good acting by the talented cast. I don't know, I just didn't like this movie as much as I thought I would. It is still pretty good with a better ending than most movies have.
½ January 3, 2016
Underrated masterpiece!
Super Reviewer
December 6, 2015
A visual stunner, I think through what they call rotoscoping. Regular film is made to look as if it were animated. A bunch of dope heads have practically the same and usual hallucinatory and paranoid antics together that all dopeheads have (if you've been there you know what I mean). It coulda used some more story somehow...the best takeaway, after the animation, is watching the actors let fly.
½ November 28, 2015
This one didn't work for me, primarily because I am not a fan of the rotoscoping process. It has a great cast with Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrleson and Winona Ryder, but it's not enough. It's a trippy story from Philip K. Dick based on his drug experiences. Not for everyone, though some may like it. Skip it.
½ October 15, 2015
79%
Saw this on 14/10/15
Visually arresting and tightly directed by Richard Linklater, this superbly animated film also packs committed performances from Kean Reeves, Winona Ryder and Robert Downey Jr. However, it's contents are just the same things that you might have seen a 100 times.
Robert B.
Super Reviewer
September 27, 2015
My rating for A Scanner Darkly is probably higher than most. I can easily see it being less for other viewers since the film does not really come together in many respects. It would have been greatly improved by a score to go with the animation. The sound itself is not particularly good (and yet that is one of the more important elements of an animated film). The overall feel to it is very 90s: amusing and silly, then serious. Reeves makes for a somewhat sympathetic main character, a confused and fatigued tragic hero. The main reason why I rate it up is because it is different, the story is oddly compelling, and I am a Robert Downey Jr. fan.
½ September 19, 2015
Interesting,confusing,innovative and frustrating....as a whole uneven.
July 15, 2015
Ones I got over the novelty of the animation the same animation seemed choking. Also in being to artistic the flow of the movie seemed dull. The ending is brilliant but by the time I got there I was hurting with the extra dose of hallucinations the movie cooks up. Amazing animation work but may be in lesser length.
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