A Scanner Darkly on Blu-Ray

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.”

scanner darkly

I was given a copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? at an early age. I read it and filed it away in my brain. Then about a year later Blade Runner came out in theaters and I did not even make the connection. The film was out in theaters for a month before I went to see it and 3 weeks after that I made the connections between the movie and the book. I know. Not very perceptive. I have since gone through the requisite Phillip K. Dick phase that all, even mildly (and I ain’t mildly) geeky people need to go through. You know the one, it is usually right after you finish Lovecraft, but before you get into something quirky from Japan? Well, that phase allows me to get slightly excited when a new Dick work is being translated to the big screen. The trailer for A Scanner Darkly certainly got nods of approval from me and while seeing it I enjoyed it.

The film is an interesting cautionary tale about drugs (semi-autobiographical by Dick) that uses the technology of rotoscoping as an integral part of the story. Now I don’t claim to be a Phillip K. Dick expert, but I found A Scanner Darkly to be a more faithful translation of Dick’s work then Blade Runner. But much like Blade Runner, it really helps to have read the original work (especially if you want to get “more” out of the film.

The film looks swell in HD, which did not surprise me, since the visual is such an important part of the film. Now the BR is light on extras. You have some nice commentary by a gaggle of people including Dick’s daughter plus and featurette and the trailer.

I enjoyed a Scanner Darkly, but much like Blade Runner, I think it is a film I can only watch about once a year. Since it is one of those films that I very rarely “catch” on television and it is so visual, I think Blu-Ray or an HD download is a good call if owning it is in your future.

A Scanner Darkly [Blu-ray] [@] Amazon

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Garry Vander Voort

Editor/Podcaster at Retroist
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