Monday, September 28, 2009

Dart Adams presents The Dartflix Film Review: Surrogates

I saw the new Bruce Willis vehicle, "Surrogates" and let me just say that based off the trailer alone and the strength of the subject matter and content of the source material I expected this film to at least be worthy of a Netflix rental once it left theaters. I'm sad to say that I once again ended up disappointed after this film faded to black before my eyes. There were so many plot elements and storylines from the original graphic novels that wasn't even explored it wasn't even funny. It had been Hollywoodized. How did two fully fleshed out graphic novels get stripped down to an 88 minute popcorn movie with excellent CGI & SFX? Damn!

"The Surrogates" was a cyberpunk tale told in two graphic novels, "The Surrogates" & "The Surrogates: Flesh & Bone". They dealt with issues of human identity, the growing dependency on technology in everyday life as well as the individual's digital footprint. There were also questions of class & race still addressed in the graphic novels, the film decided to remove all these issues by saying that surrogacy had erased classism, prejudice & racism in future society...not the case in the original source material! As soon as I saw how quickly they explained the back story at the beginning I had flashbacks to 'Gamer". Would "Surrogates" b yet another under 90 minute CGI & SFX popcorn movie with faux social commentary?

The film jumped right into the story and wasted no time whatsoever. A couple of detectives discover a few destroyed surrogates at a crime scene. Oddly enough, neither operator had called the police to report that their surrogates (or "surries") had been destroyed or report the crime themselves. After retrieving the operator information from one of the surries (the other was unregistered) they discovered a dead body in the operators apartment still in it's Stim Chair (where humans lay/sit while they operate their surrogates). Just one problem..operators aren't supposed to die when harm comes to their surrogates. It's the first possible homicide case in years.

Detective Tom Greer & his partner Peters also discover that the unregistered male surrogate actually belonged to a famous man named Canter, the father of Surrogacy, He created the technology and was an early advocate of it. The operator that died using his surrogate, however, belonged to his college aged son. The detective team has to try to figure out who was behind the murder and how it's possible for a human to be killed when a surrogate is destroyed. It sends the Boston Police into a huge corporate conspiracy since they can't disclose to the public that you can die using a surrogate. It would cause widespread panic and hurt the pockets of the huge corporation that produces them, VSI. Oddly enough, as fast as this movie flew by I did notice that there seemed to be no Asians or children in Boston anywhere. Odd..I see 'em both all the time. Sometimes, even Asian children! *Gasp*

Greer has to get to the bottom of the mystery of who developed the weapon that can both destroy surrogates and their human operators and why. Then has to figure out how deep the conspiracy goes. Then Greer decides to ditch his surrogate to go to the Dorchester section of Boston where The Prophet leads "The Dreads", a community of humans that eschew the usage of surrogates and destroy any that they see. In the graphic novels, they address the whole process that led to the Dreads movement and the eventual uprising that secured them a surrogates free zone in the first place. Compelling reading, unlike this a mile a minute chase/whodunnit shit to make up for the lack of a truly compelling story.

In the end, Greer uncovers the huge conspiracy and discovers who's really behind everything (the guy you think it is 20 minutes into the movie). He's then faced with a Plissken's Dilemma near the end of the film but the suspense is so badly handled at the time the decision is made that it ends up having zero impact with the viewer/audience later. "Surrogates" is yet another forgettable blockbuster/popcorn flick you can get high and go to the movies to watch then rent it again on Netflix months later just to say it was "a'ight". How many more graphic novels is Hollywood gonna butcher & suck the marrow out of? Fuck! I give it a maybe for everyday people but I suggest just reading the graphic novels instead of seeing the movie.


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