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A Scanner Darkly (Widescreen)

336 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Scanner Darkly, A (DVD)

America in the near future has lost the war against drugs. Paranoia reigns as 2 out of every 10 Americans have been hired by the government to spy on the other 8 in the name of national security and drug enforcement. Enter Fred, a reluctant undercover cop recruited by the government. To maintain his cover, Fred regularly ingests the popular Substance D. The drug has caused Fred to develop a split personality, of which he is unaware; his alter ego is Bob Arctor, a drug dealer. Fred's superiors set up a hidden holographic camera in his home as part of a sting operation to snare Bob. A "scramble suit" that changes his appearance allows Fred to appear on camera as Bob and prevents his colleagues from knowing his true identity. The camera in Fred/Bob's apartment reveals that Bob's friends regularly betray one another for the chance to score more drugs. Even Donna, a young dealer whom Bob/Fred loves, prefers the drug to human contact.

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Special Features

  • Commentary by writer/director Richard Linklater, Keanu Reeves, producer Tommy Pallotta, author Jonathan Lethem, and Isa Hackett Dick (daughter of Philip K. Dick)
  • "One Summer in Austin: The Story of Filming A Scanner Darkly" featurette
  • "The Weight of the Line: Animation Tales" featurette
  • Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder, Rory Cochrane
  • Directors: Richard Linklater
  • Writers: Richard Linklater
  • Producers: Steven Soderbergh, Anne Walker-McBay, George Clooney, Tommy Pallotta, Jennifer Fox
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Animated, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: December 19, 2006
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (336 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000JMK6LW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,058 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Scanner Darkly (Widescreen)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

105 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Shea HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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150 of 171 people found the following review helpful By Chris Pandolfi on 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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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful By cassdog on August 13, 2006
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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Topic From this Discussion
Difference between this one and the first Blu-Ray release
Actually one of the special features has been dropped from the second (recent) release: One Summer in Austin: The Story of Filming A Scanner Darkly (a 26-minute documentary on the making of the movie, which also featured Philip K. Dick archival interviews, as well as interviews with cast and crew).
Sep 24, 2010 by Joen |  See all 3 posts
Two actors for the same man?
Charles Freck is an entirely seperate character from Fred/Robert Arctor (Keanu Reeves)
Nov 2, 2006 by versionfiv |  See all 5 posts
what???
pay no mind that that crazy guy... think he has been taking the substance d too...
Dec 20, 2006 by carnage |  See all 2 posts
How are people posting reviews of a DVD before it comes out?
what special features... lol.
Dec 20, 2006 by carnage |  See all 5 posts
any1 know if there will be......?
i hope so. this edition is bare bones to the maxxx. PLEASE WARNER BROTHERS ON THE (deluxe/collectors/whatever other "cool" name you will use to sell your product) CRAM IT SO FULL OF CONTENT THAT IAM SWIMMING IN IT!!!
Dec 20, 2006 by carnage |  See all 11 posts
price! Be the first to reply
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