Friday, 30 October 2009


Taking classes on science fiction mean that I now can't watch a movie without thinking about deeper meanings. Dammit. I want my shallow reading back! Case in point, last week we learnt about how science fiction questions "what does it mean to be human?" and then I've just watched Surrogates.

The main problem I have now is: what message was this movie trying to convey? The basic plot is fairly straightforward: everyone has a Surrogate, a robot they can plug into and go around their lives in. Someone has a gun that can destroy these machines, and the people running them. Who? And what will become of it?

And, as I intimated, what do Surrogates tell us about being human? The obvious conclusion there is: we don't want to face the world, which can hurt us, so hide behind Surrogates so we can be protected. Which doesn't take away the pain, just helps us hide from it. This is exemplified by the "arc" of Tom (Bruce Willis) and Maggie (Rosamund Pike) who are hiding from the death of their son. This point is made well in a "show don't tell" way, but this does mean the rest of the movie gets in the way.

And it isn't quite clear what the rest of the movie is supposed to be. James Cromwell is the creator of the Surrogates, although is split from the company now, but I kept flashing back to I, Robot in which he was one of the robot creators and also trying to get humanity away from them. Very similar theme here and there. It's not that the Surrogates are bad, but they need to be dealt with, so we can return to our humanity.

After that point is made, the rest of the movie gets in the way, and just pads it out. I'm not one to denigrate action sequences, but they didn't add much to the narrative. It's not even ninety minutes, but in some ways it could have been even shorter (don't know how the comic plays out).

An adequate movie with a message that could have been delivered quicker.



Anonymous said...

I recommend tracking down the original Graphic Novel, I can guarantee it's not the same story.

Jamas Enright said...

I have acquired the comics, just need to get around to reading them...

evildicemonkey said...

So this has just been on TV over here and I thought I'd ask, did you ever read the comics?

Having just finished watching the movie I am unsurprised that they changed the ending.

Jamas Enright said...

I think I did, but it was a freaking long time ago... and I have been following the posts on Law and the Multiverse.