Surrogates (2009) (mini-review++)

(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)

(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)

acting 6

directing 5

effects 4

editing 4

writing 4

SW SCORE:23

2 out of 5 🐙

++

From jump, this movie is on shaky ground. Why name a movie about a sci-fi dystopia and call it Surrogates? It sounds like a documentary about the pregnancy industry. It turns out that would have been much more interesting than this parade of derivation. 

Surrogates takes place in a future where human beings interact, work, etc, thorough lifelike synthetic robots of themselves.

(Hello, Avatar). 

The society is crime-free because the surrogates cannot commit any crimes. Real humans just sit back and view their surrogates experiences like an advanced virtual reality simulator. But if the surrogate dies, the human operator dies as well. 

(Hello, The Matrix)

The actual people just sit in these harnesses that take care of all their biological needs. 

(Hello, Wall-E)

The surrogates aren’t exact copies of their human counterparts. They have enhanced abilities far exceeding a normal human being’s. 

(Hello, Terminator)

As any veteran viewer of dystopian sci-fi will attest, a common foil for humanity is artificial intelligence, usually in the form of rebelling machines. Surrogates is no exception. The surrogates do revolt. 

(Hello, an entire genre of sci-fi)

So, yeah, this movie couldn’t hit an original theme if jumped on its face and implanted a fresh idea down its throat. Look, everybody steals. Even the masters stole from earlier masters. But at least they provided original ideas along with their “homages”, if you will. Here there is nothing singular or special. Well, except for the most amazing blonde wig worn by Greer (Bruce Willis). Why the director felt it was necessary to do this to Bruce Willis is beyond me. Maybe he was a Hans Gruber fan as a kid. 

2nd Spoiler Alert:

As you might expect, Greer saves the day by shutting down all the surrogates. Now, humanity has to go back to interacting with each other, a state all the humans readily agree is much better than their surrogate paradigm. It’s funny to me because it seems to harken back to some golden age of human interaction that never existed. Long before humans created the machines that would kill them, they did a fine job of killing each other. It’s one of our most cherished traditions. 

The flat writing, inconsistent special effects (some surrogates look real, some look like mannequins), and glacial pacing, rob any emotional impact this oft-trod triumph might have. This was an all too predictable end to a Frankenstein movie made out of the parts of living movies before it.

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(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.

(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)

(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so

(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)

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