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Featured Blu-ray Review: Impostor

July 11th, 2012

Impostor - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Impostor began as a short story by Philip K. Dick. It was adapted as a short film that was to be one of three segments in a sci-fi anthology, but before the other two segments could be filmed, the project fell apart. Instead of just shelving the film, they expanded it into a feature-length movie. Given the film's box office numbers, it would have been wiser to try and sell the short film, or just leave it on the shelf. But did it at least work in a narrative sense, if not a box office sense?

Before we get to the review. The Blu-ray for Impostor came out on the 10th and not the 17th as it states on I relied on the date when I sort my screeners to review, which is why this review came out a day late. I've checked with the rest of the Echo Bridge releases for the month and all of the screeners I received have the wrong dates on

The Movie

The film begins with Spencer John Olham telling us about the war with Alpha Centuri, how they've come to conquer, and how peace is impossible. He also tells of how the Earth became united, but under a totalitarian dictatorship. He also tells us that his dad died in the war and when he grew up, he began designing weapons for the war.

As an adult, Spencer Olham is married to Maya, a doctor, and works as a government scientist. It's an important time for him, as he and his wife are going to meet with The Chancellor. Maya is more excited to see her, but not because she's a fan. It's the exact opposite and plans to talk politics with her "dear leader". His co-worker, Nelson Gittes, is a little more stoked for the meeting and even gives Spencer some comically bad advice. He won't get a chance to use this advice.

The meeting with The Chancellor is to unveil a new super weapon Spencer, Nelson, and the rest of the team have been working on. This is the weapon that could end the war with a victory for Earth. It is a very important meeting and security has been increased dramatically. One of the ESA agents sent, Major Hathaway, from the Enemy Infiltration Unit comes to talk to Spencer. Actually, he comes to arrest him. He is being accused of being a Replicant, an imposter to the real Spencer Olham. Replicants are a new weapon by the Alpha Centauri that are identical to the humans they replace, including having their memories. They are such perfect duplicates that the Replicants themselves don't know they are not human. The only difference is a U-bomb hidden within the heart that will detonate when the Replicant is within range of its target. Hathaway believes that target is The Chancellor.

Before Hathaway can rip open Spencer's chest and examine his heart, Spencer manages to escape. But now he's on the run and with very few people to turn to. He has to prove he's the real Spencer, but there are lingering doubts within his own mind.

Like I said, Impostor started out as one segment for an anthology film. It works better as a short film. It feels like a good episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits stretched and padded to fill a feature-length running time. Much of the running time is taken up with extended chase sequences, which is the least interesting part of the movie. That's the downside. There are some definite positive aspects to the movie. It does have an excellent setup thanks to the original short story by Philip K. Dick. The idea is excellent and sadly works as well today as it did nearly 50 years ago when it was first written. We are no longer hunting communists, well, most people are no longer hunting communists, the allegory makes the transition to the era of the War on Terror. The acting is excellent, for the most part. Like I said, a lot of the film is an extended chase sequence, which doesn't require actors to flex their dramatic muscles. Also, the look of the film is a major plus, as the style helps, even if it looks cheaper than its $40 million budget.

Overall, I think Impostor is worth checking out, but the replay value is limited.

The Extras

The extras start with the original short film. It is better than the movie itself, but the video / audio quality isn't good. It's non-anamorphic widescreen and there's a lot of print damage here. That said, it is still worth watching. There is also a 12-minute long making of featurette. The film looks and sounds good, especially since it is a bargain release. The level of detail is about on par with other films from the era, maybe a little softer. The colors are good and the black levels are deep. Compression artifacts and other digital anomalies are kept to a minimum. The audio is better with clear dialogue, good use of the surround sound speakers, including an active subwoofer when called for. Right now the price on is $13.50, which is on par with most catalog titles, so if you liked the film enough to buy it, it is not a bad deal, but it is not a real bargain either.

The Verdict

Impostor is not as bad as its reputation, but it is padded and this really hurts the film's second act. It works better as a short film, but buying the full Blu-ray for a non-anamorphic standard definition short film is asking a bit much. If you are a fan of Philip K. Dick's original story, then maybe it is worth picking up, but a rental will be enough for most.

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Filed under: Video Review, Impostor