Dreamscape (1984): Inceptions Pappa

Cover of "Dreamscape"
Cover of Dreamscape

Directed by Joseph Ruben (The StepfatherThe ForgottenDreamscape  is about dreaming, going into someone else’s dream and controlling it.

If the plot sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The concept has been used to great effect in two other films. The Cell (2000) and Inception (2010) both utilized the plot device of entering another person’s dreams and either controlling or changing them. All three films are very different from Dreamscape, but it is obviously this film that spawned the latter two.

Starring a young Dennis Quaid (Pandorum, Legion), younger Max von Sydow (Shutter IslandMinority Report), Christopher Plummer (Up, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Kate Capshaw (Indiana Jones and the Temple of DoomSpaceCamp) and Eddie Albert  (The Longest Yard, Escape to Witch Mountain) the film delivers an entertaining punch.

Dreamscape deals with entering dreams via psychic powers and a little help from machinery that lets the psychic know when the target has started the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) that shows they have started dreaming.

The film opens with a woman running from what looks like a nuclear blast. The whole scene is surrealistic and the colours run together in a psychedelic fashion. We are watching the United States President (Eddie Albert) have a nightmare. It turns out that he has nuclear nightmares on a regular basis.

We then see Alex Gardiner (Dennis Quaid) at the race track. Using his precognitive skills, he successfully picks a long shot to win. When he goes to collect his winnings a gang of crooks try to take his money and make him work for them. Alex evades the crooks and goes home.

Once he is there, he gets a phone call from old friend and mentor Doctor Paul Novotny (Max Von Sydow) who wants him to participate in his new dream experiments. To escape the crooks,who have found out where Alex lives, he decides to take up the offer.

Once there he talks to his mentor and meets his assistant Jane DeVries (Kate Capshaw). He decides to give the experimental programme a go after he meets the man who runs it, Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer)

It turns out that only two of the psychics in the group are skilled enough to really change someone else’s dreams. Alex and a psychotic psychic named  Tommy Ray Glatman (David Patrick Kelly).

We find out two things about Tommy Ray. We learn that he killed his own father and that he has known Bob Blair a long time.

The film moves at a leisurely pace. This does not distract, however, as the action on the screen is still interesting even if it’s not fast paced. At one point Alex enters a young boys dream to help him defeat a “snake-man” who keeps trying to harm him. Alex enables the boy to face his personal monster in the dream and kill it

The overall FX of the film have not aged well. The monster was from the Ray Harryhausen school of stop motion. It did not convince at any time. It looked so much like  The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, that I reverted to childhood for a brief moment. But apart from feeling nostalgic, I did not get anything from the snake-man.

The film features a romance between Quaid and Capshaw. The villain, as portrayed by Christopher Plummer, along with his henchman Tommy Ray  makes us want to hiss and boo each time we see him on screen.

The film’s plot was entertaining and interesting enough that the dated FX did not spoil it at all. Unfortunately, as I have seen The Cell and Inception recently, I could not help but compare the three films.

The Cell dealt more with the technological aspect of entering dreams. Anyone could be hooked up to a machine which would enable them to enter another persons dream. Inception required that both people received injections to make them sleep deep enough that they could enter the trance-like state necessary to enter another’s dreams.

I would say that this film is definitely worth watching. If for no other reason than to see what started the whole dream mechanic utilized in the other two films. It’s also got a sterling cast of seasoned actors who deliver solid performances.

Dreamscape won’t give you nightmares, but it will entertain you.

The Big Bang Changes Everything

I’ve gotten a few rather puzzling comments on this post, querying as to whether I was writing about the formation of the moon.  I decided I’d better read my post again and see what I had done.

I realized very quickly that in my excitement and rush to explain how the “God” particle was ‘created’ I forgot to mention that the example of planets/comets/asteroids was my “bigging up” the particles that had been zipping about at light speed and that it was a collision of particles which made the boson which then allowed the universe to grow and expand.

So in essence when you read the bit about Genesis and God colliding planets/comets/asteroids think particles and it will make a bit more sense.

My bad as Buffy would say.

So please carry on reading the original post. Thank you.

Yesterday while the USA celebrated the 4th of July,  physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research announced that they have almost certainly detected a boson. A boson  is one of two elementary particles that quantum theory says make up the universe. I am not going to go into a long winded explanation here, if you want that check out google.

What I am going to do is wonder how this validation of “The Big Bang Theory” is going to affect the organised religions of the world. More specifically, how it is going to affect Christianity.

Not to be too blunt about it, but the validation of “The Big Bang” kind of negates the story that the bible tells, doesn’t it. I grew up in a Christian household and attended church, not regularly, but more often than not. So I am familiar with the bible and it’s “teachings.”

Now before I start my little tirade, I’ll just set the stage a bit. The “Idiot’s Guide to the Big Bang Theory” goes something like this. Billions of years ago, two planets/comets/asteroids collided at roughly the speed of light. The resulting explosion created this boson particle which combined with  other particles or fermions, also known as matter, such as protons and electrons. This whole process is what created our planet and started the whole evolutionary process that resulted in mankind

Are you with me so far? I hope so, because this is as good as I can explain it.

Now, the last time I read the bible, which I will admit was quite a few years ago, the book of Genesis doesn’t start with, “And God made two planets/comets/asteroids collide and thus made earth on the first day.” I pretty sure that it does not start that way.

So what I wonder is, how is religion or Christianity going to respond to this new information? I think I can pretty much guess how.

The first step will be denial. It always is. For the truly zealous or devout that is always the  first response.

The next step will be to refute the findings using the bible to prove or negate the findings of the physicists.

The next possible step will be to try to imply or prove that the “Big Bang” was caused by God.

And the last possible step will be to let the organised religion re-invent itself or to die.

To be honest the first step has been proven historically. Look in your history books for this one and just see if I am right. Talk to your grandparents or great-grandparents, and ask. I’m pretty sure that you’ll hear that everything that does not fit into the bible’s “teachings” is always denied. “If God had meant man to fly, He’d have given us wings!”

Look it up, folks did say that.

The second step is a logical progression. It is used when Christians want to refute anything that does not fit into their way of thinking. More often than not, most things can be explained away by blaming the translation.

The third step is going to involve a lot of “singing and dancing” by the “experts” to pull this one off. I’m sure that they will try very hard to do this.

The last step is just where I see it heading. How can you continue to follow a religion that is built on the faith that the words in the bible are true. You either have to re-invent or recognise that what you have been blindly following for centuries is untrue.

I said over a year ago in a facebook discussion that in the new millenium we as a people would learn something that would shake our beliefs and our understanding of how the world works completely apart. When asked what I thought that might be, I had to admit to feeling very vague about exactly what this knowledge would be.

I sort of thought maybe the existence of alien life, finding out where ufo’s really came from, I don’t know. I do know that the discovery of the boson particle was not on my list of earth shattering events.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not ready to start dancing on the grave of Christianity just yet. And surely if Christianity is doomed what about Islam or  Buddhism, et al.

Physicists have proven the existence of the boson particle. Now it’s the Christians turn. They need to (like a magician) pull a rabbit out of their religious hat. The ball is in their court so to speak.

I will say, that although I am not ready to dance just yet, I am also not going to hold my breath waiting for their response. I think that I will instead think about how the discovery of this boson can change how we do things.

And yes, top of the list for me, is just how long will it take them to invent the first ‘Star Trek-like transporter.’

Life After Death…As a Robot?

Rhett & Link
Rhett & Link (Photo credit: rhettandlink)

I’ve just finished watching a very funny video on YouTube from Rhett and Link (very funny guys). My daughter had just watched it and wanted to show me part of it.

The title of the video was Live Forever Online. The bit that she showed me was about a website called LifeNaut.com. The whole premise of this website is to allow people to create “mind-files” that can be loaded into an avatar (online) or into an animatronic head that you can interact with.

The reason for all this? The ability to leave a “computerized” version of you, again in the form of an online avatar. This service is free. Presumably if you want the data loaded into an animatronic head it costs money. But which ever version you choose will give you the same result.

“Live Forever – Upload your Mind to LifeNaut.com”  this is the message that greets you when you google the site. When you click the link provided on the site you will see the site itself with, “Make a Profile     Build an Avatar     Connect with Friends” running along the bottom of the Register/Sign In page.

But before you register and sign in look at the bottom of the screen. On the lower right hand of the screen you will see the word bina48. If you click on this it will give you an in depth tutorial what a bina48 is.

In a nutshell, it is an animatronic head filled with a real person’s memories and thought processes. The aim is to recreate another you.

The idea behind all this “mad” scientist scenario is this: You can leave a ‘copy’ of yourself via avatar or ‘head’ that your loved ones can talk to after you die.

Okay, so far so creepy. But if you really watch the tutorial and read their statements, you will find that the ultimate goal of Lifenaut is to replicate a person (that’s spelt dead loved one) via a robot. A robot that thinks like you, reasons like you, talks like you, looks like you and is concious like you.

An android version of  a real person. If you’ve ever seen any of the Alien films you’ll know what I mean. So you too can be the model for an evil Ash (Alien) or the human ‘wanna be’ David (Prometheus).

The long term goal of LifeNaut is to marry up a computer’s Artificial Intelligence –  AI and a robot with your conciousness (or to be more accurate the above mentioned thought processes, memories, etc). Once this has been done, not only will there be an “immortal” you, but they are also hoping the this blend of machine and memory will develop it’s own conciousness. It will become aware.

Okay everybody, repeat after me, “‘TERMINATOR.”

Cover of "The Terminator [Blu-ray]"

All joking aside, the idea does have some merit. As my daughter just pointed out, “If it works, it may help us to understand more about the human condition or what actually makes a soul.” Smart girl my daughter.

Completely moving away from the Terminator style technology, I can’t decide whether the other portion of the program is a good thing or just creepy and weird. Yeah it would be kind of neat knowing that the loved ones you leave behind can chat “with you” after you’ve died.

It is also kind of neat to think that any future grandchildren or great-great grandchildren can see and hear how you talked. Although all the examples I watched on YouTube sounded like interesting variations of Stephen Hawking.

I also don’t think I will be able to partake in the free offer. I registered and signed up. I then took a picture to build my profile. I also answered 52 of 486 questions to give my avatar “my” personality. Then…nothing.

I don’t know what I did wrong, but my avatar won’t load. Period. Maybe I’m too ugly? Or maybe the picture wasn’t good enough. But whatever the reason, I couldn’t check it out today.

I may have to wait for my android to do it.