Monday, May 28, 2007

A Scanner Darkly...more waiting than scanning

A Scanner Darkly - Richard Linklater - 2006 - 4/10


Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) is an undercover cop trying to milk information out of his "girlfriend" Donna Hawthorne (Winona Ryder) who supposedly has connections to distributors of "Substance D," or Substance Death. Substance D is a red pill drug that is extremely addictive, described as "you've either tried it, or you haven't." Arctor lives with two buddies, also heavy users of Substance D, James Barris (Robert Downey Jr.) and Ernie Luckman (Woody Harrelson). Barris is a fast talking "engineer" if you will who is constantly tinkering with things while he is not spewing paranoid hyperboles or fighting with Ernie. Their other friend Charles Freck (Rory Cochrane) is a heavy addict who starts to see bugs crawling all over him, consuming him and causing him to scratch himself like crazy. Things start to heat up for Arctor when a source comes to the agency and tells them that Arctor is a high up in the distribution game and begins to bring them evidence. Unsure exactly what to do, Arctor is forced to monitor...himself.


I'll be honest, its hard for me to write this critique without some pretty intense spoilers, so if you dont want to read those, you should stop here.

Okay. Perhaps I should explain my low rating, that put this movie dangerously close to "The Producers." Quite frankly, I had high expectations for this movie and it just did not deliver. I spent the whole movie waiting for something to happen, anything really. After "Blade Runner" and "Minority Report," not to mention "Total Recall," I expected some serious action. Or at least some of the suspense that "Blade Runner" a cult classic. Instead, the movie barily keeps itself afloat with unconnected scenes that are sometimes humorous. The movie is literally driven by Robert Downey Jr who's Barris is the only interesting character to watch (Cochrane's Freck is close behind). Perhaps I should be chiding myself for being so suprised that even in an animated movie Keanu Reeves turns in a flat, cardboard performance vastly outshined by Robert Downey. The movie DID manage to mute some of Winona Ryder's hotness and her sex appeal is nonexistent. While we're talking about the animation - come on, this movie was described by some critics as the dawn of a new era in animation, that live capture, or whatever it was called could replace actors. Frankly, it was uninspiring. The person next to me kept asking, "why is the movie animated," and there just is not an answer. Pretty much everything they did could have been done in live action without losing anything. Not only did the movie not have any legs, nothing in it really did either. At the end I'm left wondering about several key things, did Freck kill himself? Did Donna love him? Did he love Donna? Is Donna going to live with him after, like she said, in the mountains? Did Arctor have a family before? If so, what happened to them? And then, when you think about those questions, you kick yourself because you dont really care. None of the characters really made any effort for you to care about them.


Watch some other "new era" movies

If you liked this movie, watch...
...The Matrix
...Blade Runner
...Waking Life

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