Impostor (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

It has become de rigueur in recent movie history to have a major S/F fiasco at the start of every year.

Impostor is this year's contribution to history.

You'd think it would be good. It stars Gary Sinese. They claim to have spent $40 million on it. It's based on a Philip K Dick story. Blade Runner ("Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?") and Total Recall ("We Can Remember It For You Wholesale") are based on his stories. 

NUDITY REPORT

none

The premise is intriguing. In the future, mankind is battling alien invaders, and the war is not going well. Sinese is a top scientist who is capable of turning the war around. He has developed an ultimate weapon which will change the face of this future war the way the a-bomb changed WW2. But suddenly Sinese, the last hope of mankind, is arrested because he is actually an alien-programmed android who has replaced the real scientist. The arrogant head of security prepares to vivisect him, to remove the living bomb hidden within his heart. Sinese's problem, besides the obvious, is that he doesn't know whether they are right. If he is an alien android, he would have no way of knowing it, because such androids are not programmed with such a consciousness. Those androids think they are the person they are supposed to be. And our problem is that the first twenty minutes of the film have followed Sinese's everyday life, and we now identify with him. We don't know if Sinese is an android. Sinese doesn't know if he is an android. The guy who says Sinese is an android is a complete asshole, giving us plenty of wiggle room. Sinese needs to escape and find some proof of his identity.

Unfortunately, the solid set-up and a good 25 opening minutes deteriorates into complete crap. For the next hour, Sinese runs through dark corridors, holding a pistol cinematically, while a bunch of stormtrooper dudes run after him. He crawls through the mandatory vents and elevator shafts. You know the drill. After a promise of a thoughtful film, it became all run and gun, with virtually no thought.

DVD info from Amazon.

The original short film
The Impostor Files - featurette
Widescreen anamorphic format, 1.85:1

The problem was caused by the fact that this was originally a 40 minute film (which is also on the disk, in its entirety), and the remainder was tacked on when the project was greenlighted as a feature. That original footage was a solid 40 minutes which became the very beginning and ending of the film. The middle was filler. Literally.

If they really spent $40 million on this, it is one of the colossal wastes in cinema history, because the resulting project is the quality of a straight-to-vid.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two and a half stars. filmcritic.com 3.5/5, Berardinelli 2.5/4,

  • General UK consensus: two stars. Daily Mail 4/10, Daily Telegraph 5/10, Independent 6/10, The Guardian 7/10, The Times 6/10, Evening Standard 6/10, The Express 4/10, The Mirror 6/10, BBC 2/5

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 5.3/10, Guardian voters 4.3/10
  • with their dollars: a disaster - $40 million budget, only $6 million gross, despite a 1900 screen roll-out

 

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is in the C- range. Some nifty effects, a thoughtful premise, and Sinese, but not much else. The 40 minute version is preferable, in my estimation.

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