Case Number 21882: Small Claims Court

IMPOSTER / FINAL ENCOUNTER

Final Encounter
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment // 2000 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Impostor
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment // 2001 // 102 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // July 28th, 2011

The Charge

In the future, not everyone is who they seem to be. Also, the ultimate showdown on a forbidden planet!

The Case

Two dystopian futures on one disc! Let's dig into the pair of films included on this offering.

First up is Impostor, which stars Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump) as a scientist named Spencer Olham. The world recently suffered an attack at the hands of alien invaders, and Spencer is about to be honored by the chancellor for the work he's done in terms of combating the threat. Alas, just before the ceremony begins, Spencer is arrested by the smug Hathaway (Vincent D'Onofrio, The Cell) and accused of being an alien spy. Desperate to clear his name, Spencer flees and attempts to find the evidence he needs to prove his innocence.

Impostor is based on a clever little short story by Philip K. Dick, and the 102-minute movie was initially intended to be a short film. Impostor was supposed to be one-third of a Miramax sci-fi anthology entitled The Light Years Trilogy, but the studio heads at Miramax were so impressed with the half-hour short film that they agreed to pay for extra footage in order to pad the running time to feature length (the other two short films included were Guillermo Del Toro's Mimic and Danny Boyle's Alien Love Triangle -- the former was also turned into a feature film, while the latter was scrapped completely).

Unfortunately, Impostor feels precisely like a short film that has been padded to feature-length. In-between compelling scenes of story development, Sinise runs and runs and runs through a series of ho-hum action sequences and engages in a series of repetitive conversations ("I'm not an alien." "Are you sure?" "Yes, I'm sure!") with the film's other characters. The performances are solid (Sinise demonstrates once again what a reliable leading man he can be, while D'Onofrio is enjoyably hammy as Spencer's oppressor) and the actual plot twists are kind of clever, but there's not enough here to sustain an entire movie.

Alas, the second half of this double-bill is a genuinely wretched affair. Final Encounter (previously given the more appropriate title of For the Cause) tells the story of two armies at war with each other in a desolate, post-apocalyptic world. The armies of Obsidian and Becca have been at war with each other for the past 99 years, and their ongoing war has wiped out the majority of humanity. Now the fearless general (Dean Cain, Rat Race) of the Beccan army is leading a small squad of men on a mission that may very well end the war permanently. Among his men are a grizzled veteran (Thomas Ian Griffith, Vampires), an idealistic young rookie (Justin Whalen, Lois and Clark), and a techno-savvy "witch" (Jodi Bianca Wise, The Prestige).

Though Dean "I used to be Superman on television, but now I just appear in any straight-to-DVD crap I'm offered" Cain is given first billing and is prominently featured on the cover art for Final Encounter, the story is actually centered on Whalen's character. Not that it really matters; both characters are exceedingly dull and the film's supposedly-profound "Why can't we all just get along?" message causes the film to play like a third-rate imitation of one of the most tiresomely patronizing, self-congratulatory Star Trek: The Original Series episodes. Even at 98 minutes the film is agonizingly long, spending way too much of its running time merely following tedious characters as they trudge their way through a series of Windows 2000 special effects and cornball RPG-style battles. Additionally, the film offers some of the most unconvincing R-rated language I've heard, as the occasional f-bombs feel like terribly awkward attempts at bringing something gritty to this slice of moldy provolone.

The DVD transfer is pretty crummy on both flicks, with the movies significantly lacking in detail and suffering during darker scenes. This is a budget release and it looks like one. Audio is a little better, particularly the nuanced Imposter soundtrack. Final Encounter is a bit weak in terms of dialogue, but otherwise gets the job done. There are no supplements on the disc.

Impostor might have been a tolerable second-half of a double bill with, say, Total Recall or Minority Report, but its pairing with the terrible Final Encounter makes this a disc to skip.

The Verdict

Guilty.

Review content copyright © 2011 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice, Final Encounter
Judgment: 25

Perp Profile, Final Encounter
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Final Encounter
* None

Scales of Justice, Impostor
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile, Impostor
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks, Impostor
* None

Accomplices
* IMDb: Impostor
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0160399/combined

* IMDb: Final Encounter
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0113092/combined