Friday, January 19, 2007

'A Scanner Darkly' ...

Um, OK.

Pal Ethan recommended this film for my Netflix queue. He writes mini movie reviews on his site and I usually agree with his takes, so I put it at the top of my queue. It arrived. I popped it in. I settled onto the couch with a basket of popcorn. And ... ew!

I'm sure I've never told Ethan that I have a big aversion to bugs. I'm seriously creeped out by the idea of a bug crawling on me. I'm not a big fan of bugs crawling on my walls, for that matter. I've gotten pretty good about killing them, as I live alone, and there's no alternative, but I tend to haul out the vacuum and suck 'em up more often than smooshing them in a Kleenex.

So the opening scene of the movie set a tone: A dude covered in creepy-crawly things. A dude's dog covered in creepy-crawly things. A dude's house teeming with creepy-crawly things.

Bugs are bugs. Even animated bugs. "A Bug's Life" was fine, because those bugs were cute and said funny things, but realistically animated bugs are just about as bad as the real thing. So I'm not fan of those Flash ads online that have bugs crawling around my screen.

Blech.

Bugs aside, it was hard for me to get past the effects in this movie. I suppose the only way to make a film about a cop who wears a suit that constantly morphs into pieced-together likenesses of other people to hide his identity is to do an animated film, but the "it's kind of animated, it's kind of real" thing got on my nerves.

Oh, and then there's the story: Drugs are bad. Oh, and the people you think are there to help are often the villains. Gee, we never see that in fiction. Or in real life, for that matter. Big Brother is watching. Yeah, no kidding.

This movie is set seven years from now. It was releasd last year. So now, I guess, we can say it's set six years from now. Except that we don't have to wait that long for some of the cynicism in this movie to manifest itself. It already has.

RottenTomatoes.com gave it a Fresh rating, which means more critics liked it than didn't. On Netflix's five-star scale, I'll give it three, just for the attempt at something different. But when it comes to movie effects, I was much more impressed by "Sin City." And the trailiers for "300" are knocking me out.

And I bet there will be many fewer bugs.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Ethan said...

All that aside, did Robert Downey Jr not steal the show? (Which is why I recommended it.)

This is one of those movies where the technology necessary to make it (well) existed years after the shock value wore off.

It's probably not helping that those Charles Schawb commercials use a similar animation technique. I was waiting for Woody Harrelson to explain how his old broker never explained hedge funds to him.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Well, Robert Downey Jr. pretty much steals the show every time he's on screen.

Yup, he was good.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

Oh, and then there's the story: Drugs are bad. Oh, and the people you think are there to help are often the villains. Gee, we never see that in fiction. Or in real life, for that matter. Big Brother is watching. Yeah, no kidding.

This movie is set seven years from now.


It's too bad that the film couldn't have been (easily*) made closer to when Philip K. Dick wrote the original novel - 1977. Those themes in movies then were still fresh.
Remember that Dick is also responsible for Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall (based on We Can Remember It For You Wholesale), Minority Report, Screamers (based on Second Variety), Paycheck (loose adaptation).

*: Rotoscoping was certainly around in the late 70's - Kubrick used it in a number of scenes in 2001:A Space Odyssey - but using the techniques available then would have been prohibitively expensive for an entire film. In fact, despite using software, A Scanner Darkly missed its target Sep 2005 release date by an entire year due to producers underestimating the effort.

5:33 PM  

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