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A Scanner Darkly [Blu-ray] (2006)

Keanu Reeves , Winona Ryder , Richard Linklater  |  R |  Blu-ray
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (290 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr., Rory Cochrane, Mitch Baker
  • Directors: Richard Linklater
  • Writers: Richard Linklater, Philip K. Dick
  • Producers: Anne Walker-McBay, Ben Cosgrove, Erin Ferguson, Erwin Stoff, George Clooney
  • Format: AC-3, Animated, Blu-ray, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 10, 2007
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (290 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NOKJF4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,586 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Scanner Darkly [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Set in a not-too-distant future where America has lost its "war" on drugs, Fred, an undercover cop, is one of many people hooked on the popular drug, Substance D, which causes its users to develop split personalities. Fred is obsessed with taking down Bob, a notorious drug dealer, but due to his Substance D addiction, he does not know that he is also Bob. Based on a classic novel by Philip K. Dick. Starring Keanu Reeves ("Constantine," "The Matrix" trilogy), Academy Award-nominee and Golden Globe-winner Winona Ryder ("Girl, Interupted," "Mr. Deeds"), Academy Award and Emmy-nominee and Golden Globe-winner Robert Downey Jr. ("Good Night, And Good Luck" "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang"), and Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominee and Emmy-winner Woody Harrelson ("North Country," "The People vs. Larry Flynt"). Directed by Academy Award-nominee Richard Linklater ("Before Sunset," "Dazed and Confused"). Filmed in live-action, and then animated using the same critically acclaimed process that Linklater used in his previous film, "Waking Life."

Amazon.com

How well you respond to Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly depends on how much you know about the life and work of celebrated science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. While it qualifies as a faithful adaptation of Dick's semiautobiographical 1977 novel about the perils of drug abuse, Big Brother-like surveillance and rampant paranoia in a very near future ("seven years from now"), this is still very much a Linklater film, and those two qualities don't always connect effectively. The creepy potency of Dick's premise remains: The drug war's been lost, citizens are kept under rigid surveillance by holographic scanning recorders, and a schizoid addict named Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) is facing an identity crisis he's not even aware of: Due to his voluminous intake of the highly addictive psychotropic drug Substance D, Arctor's brain has been split in two, each hemisphere functioning separately. So he doesn't know that he's also Agent Fred, an undercover agent assigned to infiltrate Arctor's circle of friends (played by Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder, Rory Cochrane, and Robert Downey, Jr.) to track down the secret source of Substance D. As he wears a "scramble suit" that constantly shifts identities and renders Agent Fred/Arctor into "the ultimate everyman," Dick's drug-addled antihero must come to grips with a society where, as the movie's tag-line makes clear, "everything is not going to be OK."

While it's virtually guaranteed to achieve some kind of cult status, A Scanner Darkly lacks the paranoid intensity of Dick's novel, and Linklater's established penchant for loose and loopy dialogue doesn't always work here, with an emphasis on drug-culture humor instead of the panicked anxiety that Dick's novel conveys. As for the use of "interpolated rotoscoping"--the technique used to apply shifting, highly stylized animation over conventional live-action footage--it's purely a matter of personal preference. The film's look is appropriate to Dick's dark, cautionary story about the high price of addiction, but it also robs performances of nuance and turns the seriousness of Dick's story into... well, a cartoon. Opinions will differ, but A Scanner Darkly is definitely worth a look--or two, if the mind-rattling plot doesn't sink in the first time around. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
100 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Version of a Classic Story January 19, 2007
Format:DVD
This is a movie you definitely want on DVD - because you'll want to watch it first with just the movie playing, and then after that with the audio soundtrack that includes director Richard Linklater, actor Keanu Reeves and most importantly the daughter of Philip K Dick. The insights that she provides into the movie and the storyline are priceless.

It's important to realize that Philip K Dick usually wrote about characters, not action sequences - and specifically, he wrote about those in society who did not "fit in" well. If you look through his stories, you'll find they often feature people who are misfits, who society overlooks or forgets. In A Scanner Darkly, the featured 'oddballs' are druggies hooked on Substance D - a drug that is never really described, but apparently causes paranoia and hallucinations.

The key here is to sit down with a glass of wine, a big bowl of popcorn and settle back for a character-driven story. This isn't a Rambo or Dirty Dozen story - it's about how people relate to each other, in many subtle ways. It's a study of interactions.

I really appreciate that this was done in a combination of real life acting and animation. It floors me that in modern times anyone might look down on this because it is a "cartoon". Is a Renoir less worthy than an Ansel Adams because a Renoir was done by hand? Animation isn't inherently kiddie. Hand drawn works can contain quite mature topics. In this case it is *ideally* suited to the story - because a main aspect of the tale is that the characters never quite know what is real and what is imagination. Are the bugs really there? Can he trust what he sees? All signs point to NO. The viewer is caught up in this same confused world. If this had been live action, then 'odd things' would have instantly stood out.
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146 of 167 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's High Times for Moviegoers July 19, 2006
Here's the interesting thing about Richard Linklater's "A Scanner Darkly": for a film about heavy drug use set in the not too distant future, it's probably one of the most honest and complex anti-drug stories ever told. I say this in spite of the fact that I found the specifics of the plot incredibly difficult to grasp. All I could comprehend were the general bits of information, most of which were gathered from trailers and commercials. Apparently, a fictional drug called Substance D rules the streets of Orange County, California. It's a highly addictive, brain-frying narcotic that has a long list of negative side effects. It's also an illegal substance, one that undercover cop Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) has gotten quite familiar with in his attempt to locate its main distributor. Upon infiltrating the home of a group of pill popping slackers, he starts using in order to blend in. Unfortunately, this drugged lifestyle eventually leaves him unable to distinguish reality from hallucinations.

Through the cinematic process of rotoscoping, Linklater has enabled the audience to feel the exact same way as Arctor does. Each frame of film was traced over and stylistically repainted, making the world the characters live in--as well as the characters themselves--look half like a cartoon and half like the physical realm. It was an absolutely incredible look, and I found that it gave the story an added dimension by representing a kind of realistic unreality (if that makes any sense at all). In that sense, it's almost symbolic that the undercover cops wear scramble suits, which are high tech cloaks with anatomical images that continuously shift from one to the next (apparently, a single suit can project millions of appearances).
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark look at the drug subculture August 13, 2006
By cassdog
I enjoyed this movie thoroughly. It is not a movie glorifying drug use. It is a disturbingly accurate portrayal of the paranoia, confusion, selfishness and loss of personality that comes with the territory of being a junky. All told in a mildly sci-fi, hallucinatory and even humorous manner with a slight twist at the end. But don't be dissuaded if this sounds too heavy. It is quite entertaining, humorous and filled with great performances.

I am a little surprised at some of the reactions to this movie from people that couldn't understand it, or had trouble visualizing the movie with the unique animation, or didn't see the change in tone to a darker story that was blaringly obvious. To me the animation style was essential and even the scatter suits were reminiscent of the visualizations one gets on psychedelic drugs. The two doctors which were competing just like the two halves of his brain was amazing. The scene where he looks around his bosses desk and his visualizations aren't quite right is spine-tingling. The confused, paranoid, stoner scenes were brilliantly funny and equally disturbing but also very easy to follow. The performances particularly by Robert Downey Jr. were dead-on accurate, extremely entertaining personalities.

So don't be dissuaded by reviewers criticizing the specifics of the arresting animation, or who were confused by the plot and therefore thought it was thin and hard to follow. The problem in these cases lies with the viewer. This is a deeply emotional, easy to follow but very entertaining look at the drug subculture.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars the movie sticks pretty closely to Dick's original manuscript that...
If you don't mind the rotoscoped animation (I didn't), the movie sticks pretty closely to Dick's original manuscript that explores the deep psychosis ragging inside everyone... Read more
Published 2 days ago by bill
4.0 out of 5 stars Puzzling movie, but rings true for those druggy friends ...
Puzzling movie, but rings true for those druggy friends you have, or used to have. Just want to know who the watchers really are, and why these people are the way they are.
Published 5 days ago by Janet
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
fun
Published 10 days ago by Mr.Head
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this movie
Love this movie. The way that they animated it is terrific, as well as the story line. Thumbs up for sure.
Published 13 days ago by Aloysius Anders
4.0 out of 5 stars Philip K. Dick story with a unique animation style that a personal...
The original author (Philip K. Dick) is a personal favorite, and the story has a very dark humor that really challenges the viewer. Read more
Published 19 days ago by C. Bourseau
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie, awesome cast , good story line .... Trippy animation....Love it!!
Published 21 days ago by Christopher Burr
4.0 out of 5 stars Director Linklater showing a great appreciation of the queasy
Director Linklater showing a great appreciation of the queasy, humorous, hopeless, paranoid uniqueness of Philip K Dick. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Ellis Goodson
5.0 out of 5 stars good
good movie
Published 23 days ago by jennifer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
thx
Published 1 month ago by Marjorie P.
5.0 out of 5 stars ... but the Arrived fast and the dvd is is great shape. I love this...
Case a little worn but the Arrived fast and the dvd is is great shape. I love this film, have it on my PS3, can't wait to watch the special feaures and watch it with commentary.
Published 1 month ago by Randal Stewart
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