movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] Watched in 720p, of course. Had to abort midway through the first viewing due to too much alcohol, and then we picked it up the next day. (Carolyn did not mind watching the first 45 minutes again. I had remembered about 45 seconds of it the first time around.)

PLOT SUMMARY: In a future where people send surrogate robots out in public — never going out themselves — one cop has to leave his place for the first time in years to solve a case of suspicious murders. The first murders of the year, as surrogates basically reduced all crime to near-zero.

LIMERICK REVIEW: There once was a cop named Greer,
Who disliked surrogates more and more each year,
Exposing quite a conspiracy,
based on someone’s lunacy…
Were his intentions for humanity really sincere?
[Bad, rushed limerick. I’m sure I could do better if I tried harder.]

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Rogue cop destroys billions of dollars in property, forcing handicapped people to be crippled forever.

PEOPLE: From the director of Terminator 3 and the writers of Terminator 3 and Terminator 4. Starring Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell (Phone Booth, Pitch Black, Silent Hill), Rosamund Pike (Doom), Boris Kodjoe (Starship Troopers 3), and James Cromwell (Six Feet Under, Star Trek 8: First Contact, Deep Impact, Revenge Of The Nerds 1-4), and Ving Rhames (Marsellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction, Lilo & Stitch, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, The People Under The Stairs).

QUIRKS: Based on a graphic novel. The surrogate idea is a huge gimmick, and one which makes this movie. It’s basically SecondLife becoming our first life.

VISUALS: They did a good makeup job on the surrogates. They looked a little “too” perfect–an example of the uncanny valley effect.

(In the “salon” where Maggie works, the a device holding the faces is actually a Gorillapod, something that I own.)

MORALS: The moral quandaries of the surrogate technology is one of the major themes of the movie. The mere depiction of such an interesting world is almost visionary enough to earn this movie 5/5 stars based on no other merit. Is it really bad to send a robot out and live through its senses instead of your own? You’re reading this on a computer, right? Is it bad that you don’t get to feel the pages my words or on? I’m writing this on my television. It is my eyes. Am I not living because of that? Is there an absolute line that is crossed somewhere, or are there merely differences of degrees and degrees of differences?

POLITICS: Beware of corporations. They profit from both causing a crisis and solving it. If a corporation makes an infallible weapon or invention, you should expect it to also research how to make that weapon or invention fallible. After all, there’s profit on both sides of the fence.

BAD STUFF: I didn’t find anything bad with this movie — but it could be interpreted as a mundane murder mystery with at least two major plot holes.

CONCLUSION: Technologically interesting, morally interesting, political interesting… I loved it. Though Carolyn only “really liked” it.

Clint: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 9(8.6)/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 4/5 stars. IMDB: 8/10.
The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 6.4/10, Netflix: 3.4/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 3.7/5 stars–it knew we’d like this more than average).

RECOMMENDATION: A must-see, though some will not like it and find it “dumb”.

SIMILAR MOVIES: The awesome action film Gamer has a similar concept — except the surrogates are real people: Either death row inmates who fight to the death in exchange for clemency, or “prostitutes” who rent their body out to be controlled by others. However, morality wasn’t explored as much in Gamer, because it was by the makers of Crank, and was meant to be a mindless action movie.

Sleep Dealer nailed the surrogate idea as well — except it was only used in sweatshops, in order to outsource manual labor to Mexico without having to let the Mexicans in. “I got a job picking oranges. Not sure what state it’s in. I think California.” However, the non-scifi part of Sleep Dealer wasn’t as interesting as the non-scifi part of Surrogates.

MOVIE QUOTE: Female Counsel: “Agent Greer, we’re not doctors.”
Tom Greer: “Honey, I don’t know what you are. I mean, for all I know, you could be some big fat dude sittin’ in his stem chair with his dick hanging out.”

Mood: naughty?
Music: Type O Negative – Hey Pete (Pete’s Ego Trip Version)