Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Lifelike Facsimile Of A Good Movie

I wasn't expecting much from Surrogates. It's typical Hollywood science fiction in that it emphasizes style over substance and uses the cutting edge of modern movie making technology to tell a story with an anti-technology message. Still, it wasn't as bad as it could have been and sometimes that's about all you can ask out of a high concept special effects movie.

The movie opens with a quick recap of the next 14 years which is cool cause now I don't have to pay attention to the news between now and then. It turns out that robotic technology has grown by leaps and bounds to the point where life like androids called Surrogates can be fully interfaced by a human brain. Now most of the planet spends the bulk of its time letting Surrogates live their lives for them while they just vegetate away in their homes. Got all that? Cool. Moving on.

The son of Miles Canter, the guy who created the Surrogates*, died when his Surrogate was fried by an electric shock, something that's supposed to be impossible. To investigate this, they call in FBI agent Tom Greer (Bruce Willis in a not-at-all-stupid-looking blond wig).

Greer and his partner, Agent Peters (Rahda Mitchell) quickly suspect a small colony of anti-Surrogate humans who live in a slum in Los Angeles and, though they are a powerless minority, somehow managed to gain for themselves a level of sovereignty similar to that enjoyed by Native American Reservations so, when they chase a suspect into the Humans Only area, Greer is told, "We can't follow him in there." He does anyway, the result being that Surrogate Tom Greer is both hit by the Surrogate destroying weapon then finished off by the robot hating locals. He was injured by the weapon but disconnected before it killed him so it didn't cost him his life. Unfortunately, entering the reservation angered his immediate superior even though he cracked the case to begin, found the suspect, tracked him down and had to witness several police officers being killed by the weapon. Thus, Greer is told to, everyone say it with me, "Turn in your badge and your gun." This means that Greer doesn't get a new Surrogate from the FBI and must now walk the streets as his real, bald middle aged self. Gee, I wonder if he'll follow orders and not investigate the case.

This is basically every cop movie you've ever seen with some robots thrown in. There is some character development where Greer comes to hates the fact that people allow themselves to be dominated by their Surrogates but to me that was just blah blah blah.

I liked Bruce Willis and some of the action but not much else. It can be entertaining if you're the kind of person who can look past cookie cutter story lines, plot holes and indignant moralizing though at least the moralizing came from action and not droning monologues about the value of humanity.

So, see it or don't. It won't really affect your life either way. I probably won't put too much thought toward this subject again until the day sexbots are look like Kate Beckinsale and Scarlett Johannson are created. Come that day, you will never hear from me again.

*Played by actor James Cromwell who played another robotics developer in I, Robot. Cromwell now seems to be the go-to guy for robot doctors.

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