As I’ll mention over and over again (like I’m Nelly and Tim McGraw!), I think Philip K. Dick writes near-perfect stories. Really, M. Night Shyamalan writes like a poor man’s Philip K. Dick. Their stories have a similar structure, and tend to have a similar portrayal of reality. It is just that Philip K. tends to have sharper twists, and warmer stories. It also interesting to note the range of directors who have tried their hand at Philip K. Dick movies. Ridley Scott, Paul Verhoeven, Steven Spielberg, John Woo, and Richard Linklater have all directed adaptations. Their movies, along by those done by perhaps lesser lights, have achieved varying levels of success. Where “success” is naturally defined as how much I like a movie. Here’s how I’d rank them:

8. Next

I don’t what anyone says, Nic Cage is great. And Jessica Biel is quite lovely, if a tad overrated. But they have negative chemistry in this clunker of a movie. Uninteresting throughout the movie, the climax is totally unsatisfying. It does get some points for that cool scene with lots of Nicholas Cages. We’ll ignore the fact this was directed by a Bond director.

7. Blade Runner

I fell asleep five different times when attempting to watch this movie on three different occasions. And I tend to have trouble sleeping. There are certainly intriguing idea in the movie/story, but the film is horribly boring.

6. Screamers

It stars Peter Weller, so that’s a plus. If you squint really hard, you can kinda see some very vague outlines of the plot of Battlestar Galactica. But you’ll also see why Battlestar Galactica works as a series and wouldn’t as a movie. The plot is thin, and the twists are sadly telegraphed, due to lack of other options presented. To wit, the trailer gives away basically the entire movie. It does get marks for having an incredibly creepy kid.

5. A Scanner Darkly

I recently proffered my thoughts on this one. Again, the rotoscoping is rather amazing, but the story just isn’t as interesting as it should be. And The Twist doesn’t have the impact of a good Philip K. Dick twist.

4. Impostor

Released the first week of 2002, Impostor and Screamers may be the two little known movies on this list. It has a rather stellar cast which includes Gary Sinise, Madeleine Stowe, Mekhi Phifer, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Tony Shalhoub. And if you think a movie with the latter two isn’t worth watching, you haven’t been paying attention. While Impostor does have some of the flaws found in movies adapted from short stories, I think it does a good job capturing the feel of Philip K. Dick’s world. The alienation, the eternal question of what it means to be human. And the ending is pretty solid.

3. Minority Report

Minority Report is a really good movie. It has the best special effects of any Philip K. Dick film, but they are used to support an interesting story. The standard Philip K. Dick tropes of “What is reality?” and “Is there such a thing as too much technology” really shine through. The only knocks might be that it gets a bit saggy during its long run time, and it is maybe a little bit too glossy.

2. Paycheck

Ben Affleck gets a bum rap as an actor. There, I said it. And Paycheck is underappreciated. I might even argue it improved upon the short story. And, come on, Aaron Eckhart and Paul Giamatti! The plot is really interesting. Future you tells you to take these twelve tchotchkes and use them to save the world. We again see Dick’s warning of the danger of technology, but also his genius, as it applies to what would happen if we could know the future. And we get to puzzle out the riddle of each object.

1. Total Recall

Well, obviously. This competition was over before it started. Total Recall has a basically perfect blend of action, humor, campiness, commentary, sexiness, Philip K. Dickosity, and Schwarzenegger. I can’t hope to top I-Mockery’s post about it, though. Total Recall is just an amazing movie. And the ending will blow your mind.

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