Sunday, March 28, 2010

imposter, are they trying to tell us something?

the first time i saw imposter, i was sick with bronchitis. i had some cheap antibiotics that were making me sick and NO cough medicine. so i was miserable. after rewatching it, i really saw pretty much 99% of the movie the first time. and my stomach started hurting this time, what's up with that?

anyway, this movie is based on a philip k. dick story (i almost wrote andy dick, lol). for some reasons, the makers of the movie decided to add (point out) that he wrote the story in 1953.

why would they say that? it's science FICTION after all. shouldn't he have been thinking of yet unimagined stuff? is something about this movie reality now?

anyway, here's what it's about... we (as in us earthlings) are at war with alpha centauri. the main character is spencer oldham played by gary sinise. this dude has a real grudge against the alpha centauri because during his lifetime they've killed his father (in a very brutal way in a pow camp) and they've bombed the shit out of earth cities. so, being a genius and all, he channels his efforts into weapons to fuck up the lives of the biologically superior enemy.

he and his team are about to unveil a badass weapon and so the earth chancellor is coming to meet with him and other science-types. there's going to be a fancy reception and all. he and his lovely wife are guests and they'll get to shake the chancellor's hand.

due to the enemy's constant desire to fuck with earth people, a lot of cities are under domes. areas outside the domes are .... well, they are pretty well destroyed. although there are a few areas where there are people (who may be pretty sick) living. but, like all people, the people outside the dome have a desire to survive and thrive. so they have developed a variety of survivial skills.

meanwhile, the alpha centuari have these needle ships that can sometimes get through the domes. particularly in areas that are not as well protected....

needless to say, our scientist and his wife (who is a doctor in charge of a v.a. hospital... it's a lot nicer than the current v.a., fyi) go out to stroll around in the woods even though that may not be the safest thing in the world. however, they are both back to go to work bright and early.

but, instead of being happy that his great big bomb is almost ready to c-i-l-l the enemy, our military scientist gets all weirded out talking about the regrets people who worked on the hiroshima bomb had, etc. fortunately, someone is there to notice and arrest him before he can waffle right into a peace protest.

turns out, the creatures who inhabit alpha centauri are really good at building "robots" using "synthetic dna". they can make them look like humans, bleed like humans, and act like humans. these things can take on the identity of a human (perhaps one in a position the alpha centuari can exploit) to the degree the robot sincerely believes they ARE that person. but, it doesn't matter what the robot thinks. when they get close to their pre-programmed target, things begin to happen automatically. the robots carry, in their hearts, a bomb. a really big bomb.

humans are onto them, though. we have a neato machine that burrows into the robot/human chest and removes the heart. then the bomb (as long as its target isn't there) can be disarmed. the robot/human will be screaming about their assumed identity the whole time making it a bit nerve-wracking until the thing is definitely proven to be what the head of earth security says it is.

the head of earth security, btw, has been wrong. oppsie-daisy. so, like i said, a lot of those involved are pretty well filled with doubt about executing someone for no reason. the alpha centauri don't pick hoodlums who you might not mind seeing go. they pick people who haven't done anything wrong... such as our main character oldham not only has no criminal record, he's never even had an infectious disease (does that mean something different than i think?).

anyway, it would be a pretty boring movie if things went as planned, so our possible robot possible human manages to escape and embarks on a race against time to prove he is who he says he is. we, the audience, don't find out for certain until the end, of course.

this is a good movie. watching it when not knowing the ending and again with knowing the ending makes for an interesting viewing experience. there are also some interesting sci-fi gadgets along the way.

but, back to what is it that no one could have imagined in 1953 that should just be taken for granted now... let's see...

there are some things that are basically cell phones only they are video cell phones. sometimes you even can get a video operator (wow). i don't know for sure if those were in the book or if the people were just using video payphones and the like.

the citizens of domed cities are carrying a corkscrew-like thingie in their bodies that gives their i.d., plus various information like outstanding warrants, where they work (in oldham's case that just comes up as "classified"), if they've had infectious diseases, their age, if they are married, etc. if you know someone's stem cell code, that can be punched in and you can pull up their file that way as well (such as oldham has his wife's info pulled up as he has her number). if someone is standing right there, however, you kind of wave the cell phone at them and the info pops up.

i guess the current equivalent to this would be computerized files and you can find out quite a bit about people in a fairly short amount of time. it's not as quick as the movie, but it's much quicker than 1953. also, as everyone knows, it's possible to get implants. however, as far as i know (not far), there's nothing everyone has that can read these things.

there are high speed trains everyone rides to work that are pretty nice. some places have this, i suppose. riding trains to work was very common in 1953, so it's natural that's in there.

in the movie there's something called a full body pet scan. the patient can lie on a table fully clothed and these beams bounce over them producing a picture of their body. it can show from the innermost systems out. if a person has one a few years apart it can detect whatever changes may have ocurred in various systems. this test basically tests everything.. your blood, your skeleton, your organs, your respiratory system... even the endochrine system that gary busey might attempt to rip from your body if you insist on annyoing him.

i'm not too surprised a sci-fi writer came up with this because it's based on the idea of an x-ray that has been around plenty of years now. we don't have nearly that kind of thing yet, but we're much closer (or if we do have it, it's not known to me.. again, i can be mistaken).

there are dna scans to get into secure areas. i am not sure what the closest thing to that would be from 1953. but, biological based security has been discussed for many years as the most foolproof possible as codes can be guessed or stolen. i don't think there's anything that goes so far as to test dna on the spot, but there are handprint and eye and finger scanners as well as voice scanners. so, i figure they are working on that.

let's see what else...

security for the domed city can watch for certain stem codes and monitor when they pass checkpoints. this makes it a lot harder for people to be on the run from the law. haha this is in minority report as well so it's definitely an idea phillip k. dick was thinking about. i believe that we probably have things similar to this, at least in some cases. this degree of monitoring seems to be a feature of a lot of science fiction. but then again, science fiction has monitoring during wartime to refer to. the germans went around asking for people's "papers".

so obviously keeping an eye on folks is a good idea (if you fear enemy infiltration or you just want to rule with an iron fist). however, most of us aren't really aware of how much we may or may not being watched because ways have been developed that are very inconspicous or we have gotten used to or, and this is the most important thing, ways that seem to be for another purpose (and ususally are), can be used for survelliance (although sometimes this would never be used unless the person was wanted for something pretty serious). still, this is something that has (from what we see) kept pace with technology. perhaps there's some degree of watching people we don't know about... i think it's possible, but not common. there are an awful lot of us, after all, and most of us are doing pretty boring things day after day. can you imagine at nsa, "that's the third time he's rented that movie in 15 years, by my calculations he could have bought it two years ago and broke even"? haha

in the hospital, they have synthetic organs. i think that comes up in science fiction a lot as well. but, we are getting along with being able to do that. as far as we know, we're not yet at the point where we can order just any old thing from a warehouse.

there's the robot/human (we do see a prototype early in the movie during a demonstration of the bomb removal). interestingly, a persistant conspiracy theory is that there are clones, synthetic humans, and human robots. this is pretty prevalent among some people. and one thing that's brought up in the movie that is also brought up with the people who follow this line of thought: these things cannot steal the soul of the person that they are replacing. although, if you go along the yellow brick road with me for a quick second, it's said that the soul can choose to inhabit a clone... if it wants. it's also said some very pure souls will not ever chose to do this, so their clones are much less convincing. i'm not exactly certain that this is what is reality now. but it's just something i thought about.

there's also a device they have that scans a building to see if there are people in it and where they might be. there's a similar device in minority report. i figure such a thing as this exists at this point although it may not work in the manner of the one in the movie... and it might not display the information in the same manner.

this device draws power from the dome to operate. so, being able to draw power remotely is a different idea. i don't know if this can be done or not at this time. given we can do this with phones, we may well also have the ability to do it with electricity. although, if we do, i can see why it's not rolled out to the general public.

anyway, it is an interesting movie. :)

p.s. i have edited this... i have to turn off the automatic word thingie because it is typing some weird stuff!


Allen the Duck Guy said...

Imposter is an excellent movie. About half of the movies based on Philip K. Dick material do turn out fantastic- Bladerunner, Imposter, Minority Report- and the other half deny all probability and turn out as dumb fun- Screamers, Total Recall. However, I don't think very many of the movies resemble the stories. I know Bladerunner is closer than the rest, and Total Recall is way off, but if I recall, they are all not quite right.
Dick wrote extensively about perceptive reality breaking down and that is tough to film. Maybe I'll go back and read some of the stories for you, shampoo, and let you know. I mean, if you want me too.

shampoo said...

that would be cool if you read it and let me know... i haven't really read his stories. that's a little weird, i know, because i do like sci fi stories and i read them a lot when i was younger. i would be interested in how close this particular movie is to the original story. :)

Allen the Duck Guy said...

Will do.
You should read Philip K. Dick. He's absolutely amazing. You have Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep somewhere because I went out of my way to get it for you.

Allen the Duck Guy said...

I read the story today. It's about 20 pages and takes 10 minutes to read. True to form, Dick is very concise and well constructed. Most of the story is dialog and the internal monolog of Spense.

The movie is fairly close to the events of the story, save the ending. The movie added most of the technology you commented on, however. Other than the bomb, a video communications screen, a car that can shuttle to the moon, and the domes, little technology is mentioned.
The story, as one would expect from Dick, is centered much more on perception. I have recently come to believe that mankind's greatest fear is not the unknown, but it is rather the fear that the things we believe in are false. Philip K. Dick came to that conclusion long ago, because that was the major theme of this tale.
An excellent story written by a master craftsman. Like Poe, Dick always shows a writer how to trim fat. Well worth a read.

shampoo said...

this is why I have a hard time writing... the people I always admired could throw down hardcore like that and it's hard as hell. also, when you do that what do you have at the end? a short story. what can you do with a short story these days? i'll let you know when I find out.

anyway, it seems as if the human/robot and the perfectly disguised bomb. one thing we for damn sure have now is the mind controlled (sleeper) assassin. some people in a position to know talk about the other thing.

"i'm your biggest fan, i'll follow you until you love me. baby there's no other superstar. I promise i'll be kind, but I won't stop until that boy is mine. baby you'll be famous chase you down until you love me." (that's lady gaga, I didn't just lose my mind. SHE'S not the mind controlled assassin. she's just singing about it j.i.c. I left out all the papa-paparazzis.)

Allen the Duck Guy said...

I just tell myself that I'll never be as good as those guys and content myself to be as good as can (and better than many that I have read).
I make sure that I keep it as close to the ideal as I can. I avoid plot holes, poorly researched moments, pointless scenes, and fluff. Of course, this means that most of my work is very short. And my novel has three novels' worth of plot (and still short). Maybe I can use a big font. lol
Oh well, I'll obviously never make it in Hollywood.

shampoo said...


Allen the Duck Guy said...

lol! Ah, Laurell K. Hamilton- is there nothing than cannot be described in terms of "spill"-ness?

I use "seemed to" too often, but at least I edit that shit.