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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 ($25) 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 Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. A SCANNER DARKLY features a hallucinatory animated style was created by rotoscoping live action footage and the Blu-ray sports a superb 1080p presentation that flawlessly renders the film’s unique visuals. Image sharpness and detail are relative terms in regards to this kind of animation- the hard lines of the animation are precisely rendered, while fine details are painted over. Still, the effect of the animation is pretty amazing and appears more fully realized in high definition than it did on SD DVD. Colors reproduction is flawless for the numerous pastel hues and brighter hues the make up the film’s color pallet. Blacks are decidedly inky, while the whites appear crisp and stable. Contrast is truly excellent, or as excellent as this type of animation will allow. The animation is free of film based flaws and grain.

A SCANNER DARKLY is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital 640kbps soundtrack. Sound quality is virtually identical to the DVD version. 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 disc, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras, which have been ported from the DVD release. Starting things off is 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). Featurettes and other programs include the following: One Summer In Austin: The Story Of Filming A Scanner Darkly (twenty six minutes) and The Weight of the Line: Animation Tales (twenty minutes). A Theatrical Trailer closes out the extras.

As I stated above, A SCANNER DARKLY is a decidedly trippy, weird and wonderful little flick science fiction flick. The Blu-ray presentation is a visual knockout. Recommended.


A Scanner Darkly [Blu-ray] (2006)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 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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