Most of my friends that know that one of my favourite authors is Philip K. Dick.
In some ways he's the father of modern science fiction. His stories were about perspective, identity, and the nature of reality. He explored modern contemporary issues before anyone else and all done 50 years ago.
As with most successful novelists, his stories attracted the attention of Hollywood. However his first early encounters proved fruitless. He didn't trust or like the people that were approaching him. Eventually producer Micheal Deeley won him over with a draft of 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' by Hampton Fancher. This later became 'Blade Runner' and started the trend of Dick's stories being adapted for the big screen.
Blade Runner (Adapted from 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep')
The first movie adaptation is generally consider to be the best Philip K. Dick adaptation. The three science fiction films that are brought up as masterpieces of the genre are; 2001 a Space Odyssey, Star Wars and Blade Runner. The movie frequently appears on greatest film lists; for it a great cast, mind blowing setting, a deep story with rich themes. Not enough can be said about this film and is a must watch for everyone. Even thought the movie is considerably different for the source material it seems to retain Dick's themes of identity and what it means to be human. Deckard, the protagonist, is sent to hunt down illegal 'Replicants' how are fighting for the ability of a longer life. Throughout the movie Deckard slowly becomes a dehumanised hunter while Roy, the antagonist, faces death and becomes more human. The movie was riddled with production problems from the start and was marketed poorly leading to the movie bombing at the box office. It later became a cult movie hit during the home video boom of the 1980s. Dick never lived to see the final movie but did see some of the special effects shots created from the film. He claimed that the film makers had created what he saw in his mind whenever he wrote.
Total Recall (Adapted from ' We Can Remember It for You Wholesale')
I will defend this film till the day I die. On the surface, it's an ultra violent action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you closer look, it is actually a film about the nature of reality. Yes, you read that correctly, the nature of reality. Is the protagonist's discovery that he is an undercover super spy part of the memory vacation he has paid for, or is it real? The film never answers this question, clearly, but gives two clues to the answer. The main clue is that his 'freak-out' comes as he enters the memory implant chair. So is it truly a freak out or his memory vacation playing out. Secondly, the film fades to white. This could possibly signify the death of the protagonist during the procedure, something which is alluded to earlier in the film. It is this ambiguity that I love about the film. However I would be lying if I said it was the only thing I loved about the film. I adore the action. The way it dances on the line between realistic and over the top, with some brilliantly cheesy one-liners. It would be very true to say that they don't make action films like this anymore.
In no way is this a fantastic film. It's just your average B-Movie. It should be compared to 'Universal soldier' rather than 'Citizen Kane'. However it is a very watchable and enjoyable film. Peter Weller plays the protagonist and as with all the films he's in, he gives a great performance. It's the rest of the film that seems to fail around him. An interesting script that failed find the right director of right budget. This could have been a really memorable dick Adaptation. The action has been moved a another world. I feel that displacing the action to the future and having the war between colonists and colony owners, improved on the source material some what. Although it could have been a better film. It also unusually spawned a sequel. The sequel not based on any Dick story.
Very impressive. Although the film isn't quite identical to the short story it still retains the central concept and themes. The few problems I have with the film come from the director, Steven Spielberg and the main problem is the ending. Or should I say, all of them. Nearly people who have watched the film have mentioned the ending(s) at some point when criticising it. After the protagonist, played by Tom Cruise, is placed in the futuristic jail, the film feels as thought it should have ended there. It's not a happy or satisfying ending, it fits the pacing and tone of the movie. How ever there is another fifteen minutes after in which the film wraps everything up and gives every character a happy ending. The film also falls, lightly, into a being a chase movie, like many other Dick adaptations. Other than that the film is a fantastic science fiction action film.
Honestly, I haven't seen it. It stars Gary Sinese, thats' all I know.
Terrible, just terrible. Following in the Total Recall model its heavy on the action. However unlike the Total Recall the action drowns out the themes and concepts. The short story has an interesting take on time travel. The protagonist sees his own future, and saves himself from it by using mundane objects. So later when he has his memory erased, he is prepared for what events may ensue. For example; He gets on a bus to escape the secret police chasing him, and has a bus token in his pocket. However John Woo's direction means that it becomes more of a John Woo movie as opposed to a Philip K. Dick adaptation. Falling into a problems many adaptations face.
A Scanner Darkly
Based on one of Dick's most popular books, the movie is extremely faithful to the source material. It has all the elements that make a great film. Smart, interesting director, a strong cast of great actors and a great script. What elevates A Scanner Darkly above the others is the way that the director choose to film the movie. The movie was made using an animation process called ' Rotoscoping' The process involves painting over frames of film to give the look of animation but with realistic movement. This idea was a stroke of genius and added a lot more depth to the film, allowing its story and themes to come through stronger. The film is unique among the Dick adaptations for not having a primary antagonist. The film focus' on the paranoia brought on by drug taking, which in a way can be seen as being the evil force acting against the characters.
Next (Adapted from ' The Golden Man')
Nicholas Cage should be banned from making science fiction films. I'm being serious. He's never made a good one. He keeps trying, but constantly fails. And 'Next' is no exception.
Time Travel films come in two categories. One explores the realistic idea of time travel, the other doesn't. This film falls into the latter category. To be honest I don't want to go into details about if it's faithful to the source or not. Instead I want you, the reader, to do it. Go to Wikipedia. Read the films synopsis then go to the page on the short story it's “based” on, and see for yourself the difference.
The Adjustment Bureau (Adapted from 'Adjustment Team')
Starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt due to be release sometime in 2010. On track to be a major movie.
Radio Free Albemuth
An independent film with Alanis Morrisette in the lead role. Still no release date,
King of the Elves
Being developed by Disney Animation and one of the few fantasy stories that Philip K. Dick wrote. Will be on screens in 2012, however rumours are circulated that the project has been put on hold.
Philip K. Dick movies tend to get an uneven treatment when movies are made of them. If made well they can become truly great movies that stand out from the rest of the box office releases' that week. Made badly they become average movies unlikely to be remembered.