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A Scanner Darkly [Blu-ray] [2006] [US Import]

Keanu Reeves , Winona Ryder , Richard Linklater    Blu-ray
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 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, Closed-captioned, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: R (Restricted) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: 10 April 2007
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NOKJF4
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 165,840 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

From Amazon.co.uk

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


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A scanner closely 4 May 2008
By Bill
Format:DVD
All in all, this is one of the better film adaptations of Dick's work, although probably for aficionados only; the uninitiated would almost certainly be confused and exasperated.

It follows the novel closely, and the rotoscoping is effective and unsettling, especially when depicting Arctor's 'scramble suit'. But the animation is, oddly, let down by the acting; Rory Cochrane is over-the-top as Freck, and Barris, whilst suitably sinister, is often unintelligible thanks to Downey's rapid, mumbled delivery. Keanu Reeves puts in a solid, tortured performance, and we warm to Winona Ryder's Donna as the film progresses.

But somehow the film fails to successfully capture Arctor's growing paranoia and his tenuous hold on reality, or the hopelessness felt by all the characters as they wander, drug-addled, though a surreal Californian suburban landscape.

Dick has not been well served by Hollywood. Even Blade Runner only scratched the surface of the complex novel on which it was based, and others, like Total Recall or Paycheck, come nowhere close. Minority Report was surprisingly faithful to Dick's short story, although lost several brownie points for (a) starring Tom Cruise; and (b) a predictable dose of Spielberg sentimentality at the end.

One day, maybe, someone will make a film of a PKD novel which actually works, one which captures the freewheeling weirdness of his plots, without losing their humour and essential metaphysical content - Ubik, possibly, or even Palmer Eldritch. But I'm not holding my breath.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bugs 12 May 2008
By S. Bentley VINE VOICE
Format:DVD
I guess some people could come to this film thinking, Keanu Reeves + Science Fiction = Action picture. It's not. It's closer to an Indie sensibility, and probably one of the best things that has happened to Sci Fi cinema in a long time, because it actually does something intelligent.

Of course, the reason it is so intelligent is that it follows Philip K. Dick's novel of the same name (okay so that means Hollywood is now only 40 years behind literary sf) which is based on Dick's own experiences with counter culture and his time spent amongst drug addicts in suburban America. As such the whole thing is slightly trippy, hence the use of rotoscope to deliver the sense of unreality experienced by addicts, dealing with shifting reality and shell games (all is not as it seems) amongst normal blue collar stock. Reeves plays Bob Arctor, a narcotics officer whose true identity is hidden from everyone so that he can effectively infiltrate a ring of users that may lead him to a big dealer. Unfortunately, Arctor is an addict himself and his superiors (who don't know who he is) suspect him of being part of the problem. So begins the sense of paranoia.

Much of the film is spent detailing the interactions of the group of stoners, much of it self-destructive, and has some pretty funny but sad performances by Woody Harrelson, Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder. And that sets the tone. The film is by turns funny and tragic, much like the source novel, with a big reveal at the end that is, in its way, slightly optimistic.

So it's not a classic, and if you're just wanting escapism this probably doesn't have enough explosions, but what it is is a damn fine film and good step forward. And it's probably the most loyal Philip K. Dick adaptation ever. (Let's face it, Blade Runner was not Do Androids Dream of Electric sheep, no matter how good it was.)
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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clearly, or darkly? 3 Dec 2006
Format:DVD
A Scanner Darkly was my first Phillip K. Dick novel, and was a surprisingly difficult read. Difficult not just to get a fix on his writing style but to get my head around what Dick was trying to say. In the end though, it was worth it, being one of those experiences where the moment the last page turns, the realisation comes of how profoundly brilliant and unexpected the entire thing has been.

The film strays very little from the book; in fact, `straying' is the wrong word, as Linklater has really gone all out to be faithful to the original story here, with an obvious and unflagging respect. In the name of continuity one can appreciate that some changes were necessary, for example, the complete omission of the character of Jerry Fabin, instead coalescing he and Charles Freck into the one body, but none that will permit anyone to moan. Most of the big scenes from the book are here, gloriously visual, and the ones that while missing, are not missed (for example, Arctor's visit to an abusive drug dealer's girl).

The film, while by no means short, does seem to be truncated in a way that hampers the progression of the story. Arctor's mental descent was a huge part of the novel, with many mind-boggling pages spent following the slow death of his brain cells and the gradual division of his brain from his mind and his mind from his ability to live. The film doesn't give a different version of events, but how quickly it all occurs gives a feeling of slight uneasiness and all seems just a little off-kilter. Perhaps this is a blessing after all, as Linklater could easily have decided to go down the time-ignorant route and spent a good fifteen minutes devoted to artistic shots and meaningless, predictable, endless prose as Arctor's world unravels.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great artwork
The story is more or less like "okay, I've seen/heard this a thousand times before...". It's about a guy struggeling with drugs and finding his way out of it - or... Read more
Published 7 months ago by hattidatti
3.0 out of 5 stars Review - Some Slight Spoilers For The Book and Movie
As many other reviewers have noted, this is a particularly faithful adaptation of the novel 'A Scanner Darkly' and while it's a pleasure to see certain scenes played out almost... Read more
Published 10 months ago by S. Williams
1.0 out of 5 stars Given to a charity shop!
The DVD itself was fine and it plated as expected. The video/film itself, though, involved poorly animated 'people' which I had not expected. Read more
Published 17 months ago by BoaterDave
5.0 out of 5 stars strange
strange movie but very good, took me a few watches to be able to fully understand it but i highly recommend it
Published 18 months ago by Frankie
3.0 out of 5 stars amazing film
amazing film bad disc didnt complain cos it worked for a month got a copy from the shop now amaazing film
Published 19 months ago by rev
5.0 out of 5 stars A Scanner Darkly
On time and just as described, what more could I ask for? Fine bit of rotascope and some fine acting performances.
Robert Downey jnr is superb as always.
Published on 3 Mar 2012 by GUT1967
5.0 out of 5 stars Little wondrous things spill out at me...
A Scanner Darkly is probably the most accurate adaptation of a Philip K Dick novel. It is set in a near future California and focuses on the deterioration of Bob Arctor, an... Read more
Published on 19 May 2011 by Psipher
5.0 out of 5 stars Paranoia, Drugs and Dark, Dark Humour
A Scanner Darkly is the film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's semi-autobiographical book by the same name. It is a dystopian vision of the future set in Orange County, America. Read more
Published on 9 Jan 2011 by placidhead
4.0 out of 5 stars A Scanner Darkly
A dark and paranoid view of drugs written by Philip K Dick, the same science fiction author who penned the stories which became the films "Blade Runner"(Do androids dream of... Read more
Published on 29 Nov 2010 by stevie_sheard
4.0 out of 5 stars A scanner darkly
I'm a big P.K.Dick fan but unfortunatly, i haven't read this one...yet. I watched the movie and loved it because i felt it was faithful to Dick's style. Read more
Published on 7 Jun 2010 by Mr. A. Jones
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