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Surrogates review

Posted : 6 years, 6 months ago on 12 April 2013 12:30

Bruce Willis from the past 5 years has become more ubiquitous than Agent Coulson. Almost all of his films are watchable but he always almost hampers his characters - and the pace of the film - down by his trollish performances that give off airs as if he is completely bored by the project. Here's a friendly tip: try and watch as many sci-fi / action movies from the 80's, 90's and early 2000's as possible. Throw in a couple of Willis films in there, too. After when you've achieved that, watch The Surrogates and if you see tons of resemblances to previous sci-fi movies, don't be surprised. The setup, the story, the action, the theme is all been there, done that. In this endless explosions-era, dramatic and story driven sci-fi's are few and far in-between. Not to say I didn't fully enjoy this film, it just stuck out as a sore thumb amidst all the mindless ones. Had this film been released in the last decade, or the decade before that, it might've received some love or appreciation in the now-years, but seeing that it is virtually a rehash of previous films, The Surrogates will become a distant memory in the upcoming years. However, it is not entirely a bad film, it's just not too developed, nor too dramatic. I enjoyed the stylish look to it, the allegorical allusions to our real world, and quite bleak presentation, a doomed atmosphere, if you will. But in the end you will have accepted the fact that it was nothing too extraordinary. Heck, even I Am Legend and I, Robot were better,

Performance-wise, Bruce Willis was quite decent in his role as Agent Greer, but due to a limping script and under-development of the character, it is one of his forgettable roles. At times, honestly, it felt like a Rick Deckard clone, with near zero depth. But it was a decent, OK performance nonetheless. Radha Mitchell, on the other hand, was delicious in her role as Agent Peters. She's one of my favourite as I enjoy seeing her on-screen and even though she was nothing too exceptional here, she provided a delicious presence. I also enjoyed the chemistry between her and Willis as it had some depth. Rosamund Pike was just tasty and absolutely nothing much. Honestly, her character was the most under-developed from the film. Ving Rhames plays The Prophet, a character I have a complaint about. For the majority of his screentime, he holds his hand upwards, chest level, similar to how Muslims do while they're praying. It could be just me but I didn't like that at all. The rest of the cast were quite good, nothing too memorable.

In conclusion, The Surrogates is a pretty decent film, but could've done a lot more had it had strong character development and a much deeper story.


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Surrogates review

Posted : 7 years ago on 22 September 2012 05:01

This film has many messages but I'll digress, if you'll forgive me for this, into a simple interpretation of the narrative:

What does it mean to be human? What if we could exist in our 'perfect' states and live for 70+ years as the perfect young adults we all love? To feast and laugh and love and fuck and rejoice in existence as if life was a beach party from beginning to end?

Could it be any better?

Yet, heroism presupposes a significant loss else it's an abbreviation. For this I couldn't connect but the gist was enough to parlay the message of loss and sacrifice and if it didn't have the trite payload of that illusory concept of the selfless gesture then I'd have spread it on toast. But still Id've fed it to the pet.

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Surrogates review

Posted : 7 years, 1 month ago on 2 September 2012 02:53

Went to see this at the cinema three years ago and wanted to walk out half-way through, but I was mesmerised by Bruce Willis and his blond wig, I just had to stay and laugh. Apart from that acceptably hilarious oddity, its an utterly rubbish "sci-fi flick" built around the concept of unflawed robotic versions of the human form who are not to be trusted. CLEARLY THE FILMMAKER WAS TRYING TO BE PRETENTIOUS, BUT ONLY ENDED UP BEING DULL, OVERCOOKED AND SILLY.

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An average movie

Posted : 7 years, 5 months ago on 19 May 2012 05:33

Even before watching this flick, I was actually really intrigued by the whole concept. On top of that, it was pretty neat to finally see Bruce Willis turning up in a SF flick so I was quite eager to check out the damned thing. Of course, since it was a Hollywood production, I wasn't expecting anything mind-blowing but, eventually, it was still pretty entertaining after all. First of all, there was a nice cast (Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames). However, to be honest, even though Bruce Willis was decent enough, I don't think he added much to the whole thing and any other star could have done the job. Anyway, I still really enjoyed the concept, even if it seemed rather unbelievable that 98% of the world population could afford such a device which seemed to be rather pricy. At least, it did provide some food for thought. Unfortunately, instead of developing the implications of such a world, the makers got stuck between some endless talks explaining what was going and some even less interesting generic action scenes. Still, even though it turned out to be nothing really mind-blowing, it was a well made and entertaining SF flick and it is definitely worth a look, especially if you like the genre.

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Surrogates review

Posted : 8 years, 7 months ago on 3 March 2011 02:32

First off, I was drawn to this movie due to the concept. I dabbled in Second Life for a while and thought, "Huh, wouldn't it be interesting to have Second Life - but have it be Real Life!" Still, this movie didn't live up to my expectations. While the effects were pretty good and the characters were mostly believeable - except for maybe the thugs for the Prophet - Surrogates was missing something. I wanted the future to look different somehow. Grittier or prettier or something. Add a new building to Boston's skyline - or flyin' cars. I don't know. And where were the animal or lizard surrogates? You know they would be used. People would take this technology to the nth degree.

All in all, I had high hopes for Surrogates, but this one fell short.

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Nice idea... bad execution

Posted : 9 years, 8 months ago on 7 February 2010 07:01

I really liked the social commentary of behind this movie. The idea that people would rather do things virtually than actually experience life and the movement to reverse it.

I really didn't rate the movie. The creepy make up to make the 'robot' versions (and Bruce Willis's terrible wig) hit you straight away.

The story was a bit disjointed - and not actually very sophisticated. The plot twist I half worked out... and that is never a good recommendation!

On the whole - it could have been so much better.

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Il mondo dei replicanti

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 21 January 2010 09:43

Una buona idea di base è diventata un film piuttosto mediocre. Mi ero fatto incuriosire dal trailer, ma le aspettative sono state disattese. Il tema era interessante, forse per la prima volta si affrontava in modo così globale il rapporto uomo-macchina da un punto di vista nuovo e insolito. Ma un argomento così complesso è stato liquidato con troppa superficialità. Il film lascia una sensazione di trascuratezza e di incompiutezza molto fastidiosa. La sceneggiatura sembra scritta in cinque minuti, è piena di difetti, sorvola su dubbi e domande che uno spettatore inevitabilmente si fa senza ottenere una risposta (per esempio: com'è possibile che i surrogati riescano a percepire le sensazioni positive con intensità e quelle negative come un videogame? Oppure, com'è possibile che una quasi totale inattività non abbia trasformato le persone in corpi obesi e pieni di piaghe da decubito?).
Peccato, date le premesse avrebbe potuto essere un ottimo film. Invece non è stato nemmeno un buon intrattenimento.

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Posted : 9 years, 11 months ago on 15 November 2009 11:44

開頭一開始就提到近年來熱門的BCI (HCI)等科技,人類可以控制機器(人),隨著時間演變,變成每個人都有代理人(機器人),人不會受傷,不會變老,隨時可改變樣貌。但這樣真的好嗎? 每日躲在房間內操控著機器人的生活,是否真的適合人類呢?


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Exciting premise too soon gives into formula...

Posted : 10 years ago on 13 October 2009 03:24

"We are confronted with an unprecedented situation: two people have died while connected to their surrogates."

Sometimes there's nothing better than a science fiction thriller supported by an exciting premise that resonates with the present. But there's nothing worse than watching an exciting premise being squandered - and this is precisely the fate of 2009's Surrogates. Adapted from the 2006 graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele, this is a film that wastes a fascinating concept by inserting a generic conspiracy plot that's as nonsensical as it is hard to follow. Director Jonathan Mostow's enthralling visual scheme is not enough to compensate for the cliché-ridden script.

A rapid-fire opening credits montage reveals the technological advances leading to the "now" of the story, and explains how surrogates came to be. Most of the population of the world are now plugged into these robotic avatars (which are more or less just ideal representations of the user) and can go about their daily activities without fearing death from accidents, diseases or any other risks associated with the contemporary world. The crime rate has dropped sharply as a result, and the streets are filled with attractive people (of course there's the inevitable gag of a disgustingly obese man walking the streets as a smokin' hot female surrogate). Those who reject the surrogate culture have been marginalised and now live in ghettoised civilisations.
Set in the not-too-distant future, the film picks up when there's an anomaly in technological paradise: someone has developed a weapon which can kill a user through their surrogate (an action thought to be impossible). When the son of the man who invented the surrogates is murdered in this fashion, FBI Special Agents Greer (Willis) and Peters (Mitchell) begin investigating.

What follows is a twisty, heavily clichéd whodunit tale tagged with a predictable ending. The movie simply jumps from turn to turn in a programmed manner and feels underdone at 85 minutes; suggesting that studio interference was a problem, and the movie was trimmed heavily on its way to cinemas. Surrogates has been pared down to the bare essentials of action and whodunit without a lot of room to breathe, which is highlighted uncomfortably by the clichéd subplot concerning the relationship between Greer and his wife Maggie (Pike). It's a narrative thread that's integral to the overall story, but the melodramatic fragments are all that remain. These flaws notwithstanding, the story is at least delivered at a brisk pace. The narrative problems are brought to the fore only in hindsight - if nothing else, the film gets credit for its entertainment value.

Surrogates can be praised for its riveting visuals. Jonathan Mostow's direction is crisp and the special effects are spectacular. It's a fascinating world that's been created here, with the surrogates being given a plastic-like sheen that differentiates them from the "meat bags" who refuse to plug into the system. However the action sequences are severely undercut by one factor: the PG-13 rating. All the violent money shots are placed off camera and the violence is frustratingly tame. Luckily, though, the action is not marred by quick cutting or indecipherable shaky cam. Mostow's intention was clearly to entertain, and in that regard the director has crafted a perfectly serviceable, paint-by-numbers thriller. Unfortunately, though, the high-octane blips are just that - blips. It's admirable that the film aspires to examine deeper issues, but the script by Michael Ferris and John D. Brancato (the guys who penned Catwoman) is lacking. The filmmakers prioritise pacing over content, when a deeper, longer movie should have been produced.

The script is also riddled with holes. Surrogates would surely cost a great deal, so how would the poor or the unemployed or even the petty street criminals be able to pay for a surrogate and have their protection ensured? It's also hard to believe that virtually everyone on the planet would want to own a surrogate. Is real life truly that awful that we could all consider living life as a robot? There are other aspects which aren't touched upon. Can one eat and drink while using their surrogate? How would sex work? Furthermore, how would reproduction work? The robotic surrogates obviously wouldn't be able to give birth, and everyone seems to want to remain inside their surrogate and avoid contact with actual humans, so how the hell would more generations of people be born? The premise of Surrogates is bursting with narrative possibilities and interesting questions the movie simply isn't interested in addressing.

Bruce Willis starring in a movie is always a good thing. He's the John Wayne or Clint Eastwood of this generation: even if the movie stinks, Willis' screen presence makes it more tolerable and worthwhile. Playing the familiar movie policeman role who must risk the loyalty of his family and colleagues to uncover the truth, Willis does an exemplary job. Once his character of Greer can no longer use his surrogate, he's forced to hit the streets in the flesh. From there the film relies on his performance to allow viewers to experience Greer's system shock of facing surrogate land as a real person and realising just how ridiculous the situation has become. Instead of using flashy camera techniques to illustrate the changing perspective, Mostow focuses squarely on Willis' emotional & physical performance - the actor had to convey the central theme of the movie through his performance, and he achieves this, which is utterly extraordinary.

The filmmakers do a great job of making Bruce Willis look young and handsome. That said, the wig he wears is awful. It's a blessing that Greer breaks from his surrogate about one third into the movie. Most of the supporting cast is shoved to the side due to the brief running time. Radha Mitchell's character initially seems less predestined towards two-dimensionality, but there's no room in the tired murder plot for any back-story or solid characterisation. Rosamund Pike does what she can with the thankless role of Greer's wife, while Ving Rhames makes a strong impression as the leader of the resistance against the surrogates. James Cromwell's role is minor, but nevertheless his performance is assured.

It's clear that the creative team behind Surrogates wanted to deliver an astonishing and worthwhile sci-fi actioner. But the way the film addresses a number of meaningful issues fails to make much of an impact. While it's an enjoyable movie thanks to some quality action, and while it does achieve its goals on a very basic level, the ingenious premise is pushed aside too soon in favour of formula.


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