September 28, 2009


Yesterday (Sunday) I met my friend John for the movie Surrogates.

This was a nice refreshing change from the movie I watched the day before (Pandorum), it's smart science fiction with just enough action and a story that's tight enough to keep it all together. Bruce Willis is an FBI agent investigating the first homicide in years, as someone has found a way to murder the human operator of a surrogate human by attacking the machine.

I saw a review somewhere (don't remember the source) that noted the acting was wooden, or something to that effect. What is interesting about this film is that when the actors are playing the surrogate doubles, they do act wooden. But this fits in with the running theme of the movie; the surrogates are perfect human forms, but they are machines. All the surrogates are also extremely made up, as if they're all ready for their close-ups. When the actual humans are introduced, they're poorly dressed, have acne, gray hair or body fat...just like the rest of us.

What really elevates this film from just an action movie to true science fiction is the way it deals with this future. We get to see a near future where humans interact with the real world through a machine, plus what changes that brings to society. This is the mark of true science fiction, it not only entertains but it makes one think.

For instance, we get to see military combat (the army surrogates do not have any cosmetics on their faces, indeed their faces remind me of crash test dummies, but that fits a military role). These machines are handled as if the humans were playing a video game, most of them are just running out in the open despite a hail of gunfire (though I did spot two in the background of one shot using cover).

Another interesting scene was in the beauty parlor, because in this future it's all about upgrading the surrogate's looks. So gone are the scissors, instead we've got power tools (which, being a beauty salon, are all girly colored).

Of course, in this type of future, not everyone would want to live life through a machine. These people (called 'meatbags') are handled here as well, why they choose not to and how they're treated by the rest of society.

Today we live in a world that's increasingly more connected, many if not most of us go home every night and turn on the computer. Many people make their day to day living doing work entirely on a computer. And for fun there are thousands who play games online, some of the deathmatch variety, more and more of the massive multi-player such as World of Warcraft (I'm one of those). So it's interesting to watch a film where people are living artificial lives through an electronic connection to a machine, there's an interesting parallel there.


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