When I was watching Rolling Stone's review of The Green Hornet, I was given an interesting insight on how that movie would never be made. Directors are coming and going, actors left because of scheduling conflict and how this movie gets so many delays in its release date.
A Scanner Darkly is another example of a movie in development hell. It suffered itself with problems from the animators as they haven't completed sequences. Some of them do not have movie making skills. Some of them left during production and Linklater took the budget to $8.7 million (it was originally $6.7 million). So it was one of those movies like Watchmen and The Green Hornet that was on hold and was put into the shelf for a while until it is intially released.
This movie marks the first time Robert Downey Jr and Winona Ryder had came back to movies after their stint with the law. (Downey Jr was released from drug rehabilitation while Ryder was on probation for an infamous shoplifting incident.)
A Scanner Darkly was based on the last novel by Phillip K Dick whose science fiction novels including Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report are turned into cinematic classics for its genre. The movie's completely rendered and its set in some future and America is still at war... on drugs. Many addicts are living under Substance D a lethal recreational drug many agencies are trying to get rid off. Agents are dressed in a suit where every millisecond a pattern of body parts are shown. Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) is an agent going undercover to spy on his friends Harris (Robert Downey Jr), Luckman (Woody Harrelson) and also his supposed buddy Donna (Winona Ryder). But ASrctor is pretty much monitoring himself given that he's an addict himself. As the movie progresses, it unravel a series of twists and storylines it had set himself up.
This is one of Phillip K Dick's weakest movies. It's not that bad, but it's not that good. The animation looks vivid and rich making it look like a cover on any Grand Theft Auto game. It took a lot of effort to make this movie into animation. If it was just live-action without any animation, then the entire film feels so slow and boring.
A Scanner Darkly gradually has numerous concepts about drug addiction, overworking and mind or if you mix these together it's mind over drugs because you are killing yourself in your job. This film's screenplay is at times multi-layered, but most of it is stripped thick turning them thin. Unfortunately that's the biggest flaw this movie is getting.
Richard Linklater who directed and screen this movie seems to be getting his own stamp of the movie and is just bad because the animation might have been a gimmick. What he does is that in order to get a rise out of viewers, the dude just performed various twists that are so little yet confusing.
Where at the first half of the movie I was really fascinated about the lives of these drug addicts. These characters may have been left out from Darren Arronofsky's Requiem Of A Dream because they're not dark, or just paranoid. But where I get to the second half, it's blasted boring because none of these characters (Downey and Harrelson is left out of the scope) appeared at that half where it quickly loses its interest.
Performances from the cast are uninspiring to say the least especially Keanu Reeves who can only make that one facial expression and Winona Ryder whose characters get too many twists. The one notable exception from the cast is Robert Downey Jr. who is making a comeback here since his character Harris has so much wit, but simultaneously has a sense of paranoia.
A Scanner Darkly is even blackly hilarious but here's the question: do I actually like this movie? Is it bad? No. Is it good? No. It's just an average movie and even though the actors are completely rendered it feels tedious. If you like cult classics or really trippy movies, then this is for you.