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A Scanner Darkly
An innovative animated sci-fi feature
A Scanner Darkly
Keanu Reeves in "A Scanner Darkly".
OPENING WEEKEND: $25,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $91,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

January 26th, 2006: The story of the film takes place in California in the not too distant future and introduces a paranoid state where people’s lives are continuously monitored via surveillance machines called scanners. Fred (Keanu Reeves) is a police officer assigned the task of shadowing a major drug dealer named Bob, who’s responsible for selling a new drug called “Substance D.” One of the side effects of this illegal drug is that the user develops multiple personalities without any awareness. As a user of the drug, Bob is oblivious to the fact that he and Fred are actually the same person. When Fred sets up an elaborate operation to capture Bob, he is actually hunting himself.

What to Expect: A Scanner Darkly is based on Phillip K. Dick’s novel of the same name. The famous author’s forays into the future have resulted in numerous science fiction adaptations to the big screen. Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report are among the most celebrated films based on his work. All of them feature societies engulfed in ultramodern landscapes and ingenious devices contrasted by traditional human doubt and uncertainty. By questioning the reliability of human memory and subjectivity and exposing our sometimes-dangerous dependency on technology, Dick is able to effectively present his interesting view of problems that plague society. The same recurring themes that question the nature of humanity and “self” will once again be explored in A Scanner Darkly.

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While Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report were all made by expert sci-fi filmmakers, Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Bad News Bears), known primarily for his quirky, independent comedy-dramas, surprisingly chose A Scanner Darkly as his next project. Ever since his breakthrough film Dazed and Confused, Linklater has consistently delivered original and amusing material. I especially loved The School of Rock, which featured a scene-stealing Jack Black. It was Linklater’s edgy, PG-13 rated take on the family movie genre. It’s therefore a little puzzling to see him follow in Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott’s footsteps and adapt a Phillip K. Dick novel. Personally, I have no doubt that he will succeed with the material given his concept for the presentation. Similarly to his experimental 2001 film Waking Life, Linklater has decided to shoot a live-action version, only to have it animated in post-production. The results should be trippy, but firmly grounded in reality. It’s a great alternative to digital effects and if you’re curious to see what it looks like, check out the film’s trailer.

Interestingly, the cast in A Scanner Darkly is made up of major Hollywood actors, many of whom have had a publicly known history of drug exploits. Keanu Reeves is no stranger to science fiction and should be perfectly cast in the lead role. All kidding aside, we should all be familiar by now with how well he can pull of “confused.” Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson will play Bob’s two doped-out friends. Again, both actors should have little difficulty with their parts and both performers have the wits to indulge in a little fun with the roles. I was surprised to find that Winona Ryder, who plays Bob’s girlfriend, has never actually been in a Richard Linklater film. The slightly neurotic traits she exhibited in the mid-90s are an ideal match for a Linklater movie.

Both Richard Linklater and Phillip K. Dick have the ability to be cerebral, without alienating the general public, so the two are a perfect match for the project. The resulting film should be entertaining and simultaneously nuanced with ideas, much like Blade Runner or Minority Report. Similarly to the heroes of those adventures, Fred’s outlook will be changed by his experience. Like with all of Phillip K. Dick’s stories, expect A Scanner Darkly to be a dazzling insight into the society we live in.

In Conclusion: For Linklater, it’s his most important and challenging film to date. With it’s warped animated style, the film should be a mind-bending visual experience, similar to Waking Life. By raising issues regarding authority, invasion of privacy, and personal drug use, it will undoubtedly provoke thought and inspire debate among viewers. As it is bound to contain startling revelations, A Scanner Darkly could be one of those gems that will require multiple viewings. Overall, it should be one of the most stimulating and entertaining films of the year and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has ever enjoyed any of Phillip K. Dick’s past work.

UPDATE: The release date has been changed from March 31 to July 7. Box-office predictions have been adjusted to appropriately reflect the film’s move to summertime.

Similar Titles: Blade Runner, Minority Report, Memento, Waking Life
July 7th, 2006 (limited)
December 19th, 2006 (DVD)

Warner Independent Pictures

Richard Linklater

Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder, Rory Cochrane

Total: 48 vote(s).

Action & Adventure, Animation, Science Fiction

Click here to view site

Rated R for drug and sexual content, language and a brief violent image.

100 min






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