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Combining the elements of a cop movie with social commentary and tying it up in a not so neat, but decidedly trippy science fiction package, A SCANNER DARKLY ($28) is a weird and wonderful little flick based upon the Philip K. Dick novel. Set in the Los Angeles of a not-too-distant future, A SCANNER DARKLY tells the story of an undercover law enforcement agent, whose identity is, quite literally, kept under wraps from everyone- including seemingly himself. In this not-too-distant future, fewer people than ever "just say no," and it seems that a drug known as Substance D has become a blight on L. A., with a quarter of the populace being addicted to the mind altering narcotic. With the drug virtually everywhere, our undercover law enforcement agent soon finds himself the subject of a high level investigation into the trafficking of Substance D. Of course, to make matters even more confusing, our undercover law enforcement agent is also assigned to this particular investigation. The cast of A SCANNER DARKLY features Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, Rory Cochrane and Winona Ryder.

Warner Home Video has made A SCANNER DARKLY available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. The films hallucinatory animated style was created by rotoscoping live action footage, with the end result being an impressive DVD experience. The image appears crisp, that is, as crisp as possible for this type of animation overlay. Colors are very strongly rendered, without any type of noise or fuzziness. Blacks are pure, whites are clean and contrast is quite good for an animated feature. The elements from which the film was mastered are without appreciable defects. Digital compression artifacts always remain in check.

A SCANNER DARKLY comes with a competently mixed Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Since the film is primarily talky drama, it should come as no surprise that there is more activity across the forward soundstage than there is in the rear channels, but the surrounds do supply the usual complement of ambient sounds and musical fill. Music itself is reproduced with good fidelity and the sound effects are pretty realistic. Dialogue sounds fairly natural and it always easy to understand. The bass channel is quite solid, although there is nothing ground shaking going on in this film. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Sound effects underscore the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras that include a running Audio Commentary with writer/director Richard Linklater, actor Keanu Reeves, producer Tommy Pallotta, author Jonathan Lethem, and Isa Hackett Dick (daughter of author Philip K. Dick), plus Featurettes One Summer In Austin: The Story Of Filming A Scanner Darkly (twenty six minutes) and The Weight of the Line: Animation Tales (twenty minutes) and a Theatrical Trailer.

As I stated above, A SCANNER DARKLY is a decidedly trippy, weird and wonderful little flick science fiction flick. Warner’s DVD presentation is up to their usual high standard. I know the film will not be to every taste, but I really liked the hallucinatory imagery, so if you enjoy traveling off the beaten path, you have to check out A SCANNER DARKLY. Recommended.



A Scanner Darkly (Widescreen Edition) (2006)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2007 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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