Movie "A Scanner Darkly" (animated, with Keanu Reeves) *Spoilers*

I just finished watching this, and am uncertain what I think about it. I’m not sure why they used the animation they used (it was live-action turning into animation, right?), and I’m not sure if it was particularly good or not. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either (I can see critics going crazy for it, though; it seems like their kind of thing). I thought Keanu was quite good in it - maybe that style of animation suits his style of acting. :slight_smile:

What did other people think? Did anyone love this like the best movie they’ve ever seen? Anyone hate it bitterly?

Robert Downey Jr does the best druggie performance I can remember in this film, not one scene, his every moment. I think the choice of rotoscope (the type of animation used) was used to give it an off kilter feel for affect. This is one the few instances where I’ve appreciated the film more than the novel (Phillip K Dick) if you ineterested. That said it felt like they cut too much of Dick’s moralizing though I’m having trouble articulating how.

I only saw it the once, found it really depressing, but also very rewarding. It’s one I would like to see again. I loved that aesthetic. It eliminates any potentially corny sci-finess from the film.

Isn’t it just called A Scanner Darkly? I remember seeing this in the theatre. I thought the animation in it was very interesting, although it annoyed me that people at the time were acting like this was the first film ever to use rotoscoping, unaware of Ralph Bakshi’s flawed but nevertheless beautiful movie American Pop which was made decades earlier. The movie was aesthetically interesting but I remember being bored by the plot, because DRUGS are sort of a played out topic and I have always felt this way. There really are too many movies about drugs.

Oops, yes, it is called “A Scanner Darkly” - I must have taken poetic license there. :slight_smile: If a mod wanted to fix that, I wouldn’t mind.

The plot did seem thin - I liked the twist, that they used an agent to try to get to the drug manufacturers without his knowledge (used him up, actually) - the morality of that (doing something very wrong for a good reason) is interesting. As the Wynona Rider character said in the movie, does that make them as bad as the bad people they’re trying to catch? I have a feeling I might have to watch this movie again to get more out of it (and with sub-titles on, so I can catch what Robert Downey Jr. is saying).

Rotoscoping goes back before Bakshi, but A Scanner Darkly wasn’t even Linklater’s first rotoscoped film, Waking Life came a few years before that.

I thought the style suited Waking Life much better (and it remains one of my favorite movies ever). In ASD, it sort of left me on edge, which I guess was the intent at least in part, but overall the story and structure just didn’t work for me. I didn’t really care.

I enjoyed the hell out of this movie, much moreso than Waking Life, which I found deeply boring. Basically everyone I know hates it, though, thinks it’s slow and pointless. I’m not sure why - the scenes alternate from strange to hilarious to thoughtful and back again. The animation lends an interesting, trippy vibe. Even Keanu holds his own. I’ll admit, it hardly moves at a breakneck pace, but I didn’t find myself checking my watch.

Yes. But, no. But… yes. I’m joking. But I’m not.

I found it boring - dull, dull, dull. And the rotoscoping added nothing - I don’t know why they bothered. Either animate or do the live-action.

I enjoyed it in the cinema but was amused that, possibly because it was Hollywood! the stolen bicycle had more gears than it had in the book!

That hardly seems worth spoilering, right?

Read the book, thought the book was OK. Then I saw the movie, and wasn’t impressed. Then I read the book again, and really liked the book.

I’m not sure what I disliked about the movie, other than that I found the rotoscope to be more annoying than interesting.

I’m not entirely sure how many gears the bike had - I’m not sure if all the druggies were hallucinating, or if they were just messing with the other druggie (Barius? the Robert Downey Jr. character).

I found the rotoscope annoying, too, especially when people were wearing their masking suits. That really looked cheesy, and got on my nerves.

Saw it in the cinema and enjoyed it, although I’ve not watched it since or felt the need to get anyone else to try and see it so I guess it hasn’t left that much of a lasting impression on me.

I was genuinely confused about the whole idea of a drugs enforcement agency that didn’t know who its own agents were - when they were looking at the CCTV footage of the house there was some comment like “so you must either be him or him”. Surely that goes beyond tortuously complex? That said I did like how that worked for the twist with Ryder being Reeves’ superior, and explains why the tape of them planning a terrorist attack was dismissed so categorically by the superior character/Ryder (after all she was one of the voices on it).


The drug (substance D) screws with a person’s perception and reasoning skills. The druggies were, by this point, all too burned out to either accurately count the gears, or understand that two gears on the front and nine on the back is 18 gears, not 11. This is explained a little more in the book (I think. It’s been a year or two since I’ve read it.)

This film is better than it has any right to be, given the history of Philip K Dick adaptations and the presence of Keanu. A surprisingly excellent adaptation of the novel. I* highly* recommend the Paul Giamatti-narrated audiobook, if anyone’s interested. And yes, Downey (and the rest of the actors) were pretty superbly chosen.

In the context of a Dick novel, the tortuous and baffling complexity is pretty much expected.

Rotoscoping was invented in 1915. The technique used by Linklater is usually referred to as digital rotoscoping. I’ve heard it referred to as Rotoshopping, after the software used.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again - one of Keanu’s strengths is choosing roles that he can handle with his acting abilities. His other strength, of course, is being oh-so-pretty. :slight_smile:

A Scanner Darkly is the most faithful and respectful adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel to date. (The only other movie that comes close is Confessions d’un Barjo, and that’s a french-language film - go figure.)

It’s my favourite Dick novel, and a great adaptation. I anticipated it through 9 years of development hell, three directors, and three scriptwriters. I had major misgivings when Charlie Kaufman’s script was discarded, and even more but I have a totally Panglossian attitude about the eventual result. Wouldn’t change a thing, seriously.

I’m glad that Linklater included PKD’s afterword. This is the real suckerpunch of the novel.

Its based on a book and the book is much better than the movie. Perhaps its because I knew so many druggies while growing up, but the book really rings true for me on how the world of drop outs and addicts is. Of course with a liberal dash of weirdo science fiction

IIRC its because those who review the tapes dont have the clearance to know who the undercover agent is. It doesnt make sense to tell every LEO who the undercover guy is. It could jeopardize that person.