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MOVIE REVIEW: A Scanner Darkly

REVIEW SUMMARY: Director Richard Linklater’s faithful adaptation of Dick’s classic 1977 novel uses a unique film style that immerses the viewer in a comic-book like world of depravity and darkness. Overall, a movie that fans of the book will definately enjoy.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A cop is sent undercover to help deal with a major society-impacting drug craze and ends up addicted and in way over his head.


PROS: The movie does a great job capturing the feel of the book – oppresive, foreboding, and with a heavy dose of scary reality; Keanu Reaves, Robert Downey Jr, and Winona Rider all give excellent performances; destined to be a cult classic.

CONS: Wierd rotoscoping technique somewhat distracting; not paced like a traditional film and so might throw some viewers off (non sci-fi fans especially); the villianous corporation from the book isn’t quite sinister enough in the film.

BOTTOM LINE: One of the best film adaptations of a sci-fi novel I’ve seen. There is comedy here that works along with brilliant social commentary and solid acting to deliver Dick’s message.

3 Comments on MOVIE REVIEW: A Scanner Darkly

  1. Matte Lozenge // August 13, 2007 at 4:11 pm //

    Hmm. I would give it three stars. It’s worth watching once, but I have a hard time imagining it as a cult favorite. I think you’re right that the movie is faithful to the spirit of the book, but it spends too much time explaining what is going on, and not enough time delving into the peculiar reality-warping paranoia that Dick is famous for.

    One of the best film adaptations of a sci-fi novel? Well, maybe so. But how many film adaptations of sci-fi novels are there total — one or two dozen? Some of the better film adaptations of novels surely must include A Clockwork Orange, Blade Runner and Children of Men. And though monster movies aren’t my cup of tea, a lot of people would vote for Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Invisible Man.

  2. To me, 4 stars means that I think all sci-fi fans should see the movie. Given how few decent choices there are, I think this isn’t a hard rating to get.

    I have to admit that I had terribly low expectations going in and was then pleasantly surprised (I wrote this in an extended entry that was unfortunately eaten by some error with our web host.)

    I liked the slow style. To me it highlighted his depression and split personality.

  3. Jeff VanderMeer // August 13, 2007 at 9:36 pm //

    I wanted to shoot myself watching this dog.


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