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Based on the comic book series of the same name, SURROGATES ($40) provides itself to be an entertaining, albeit underdeveloped, cautionary science fiction tale. Personally, I really liked SURROGATES, but at eighty-eight minutes, the story seems rushed. Also the brevity of the run time leaves the majority of the characters paper-thin. Instead of taking the action movie approach to science fiction, SURROGATES would have benefited from fleshing out the primary character’s back story and crumbling relationships, as well as putting more emphasis on the implications of a technology allowed to run amok. Considering the brief run time, perhaps the character-based and philosophical/sociological aspects of the story were removed to make the film appeal to a PG-13 audience that would be uninteresting in thinking about such things.

The premise of SURROGATES takes the isolation of the online experience and things like Second Life and The Sims to a dangerous extreme. However, instead of one living out their life in a virtual world, people now carry out all real world interactions through robotic virtual versions of themselves, while never leaving the safety and comfort of their homes. By the year 2017, the vast majority of the world’s population are now jacked into their own robotic surrogate. Sending their idealized version of themselves out into the world everyday, people have become little more than isolated puppet masters, who having lost the desire for true human interaction. Of course, there are benefits- while linked to their surrogate, a human operator can experience the world free from harm, even if the surrogate is damaged or destroyed… that is, until now.

SURROGATES opens with a human firing a weapon at a surrogate, which somehow kills its operator. FBI agent Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) is assigned to investigate, what turns out to be the first actual murder in years. Through the course of the investigation, the victim is identified the son of Dr. Lionel Canter (James Cromwell), the original inventor of surrogates. While, the authorities try to hide the fact that the use of a surrogate can now have lethal consequences, Greer looks a separatist faction that opposes the use of surrogates, and may now be in possession of the weapon that can fry a surrogate and kill its operator at the same time. When his own surrogate body is destroyed, Greer is forced to venture out into the world, for the first time in years, to complete his investigation. Experiencing the world again, firsthand, makes Greer question what he has lost by living his own life through a surrogate. The cast of SURROGATES also features Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, James Francis Ginty, Ving Rhames and Jack Noseworthy.

Touchstone Home Entertainment has made SURROGATES available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. SURROGATES boasts a fairly terrific 1080p presentation that is certain to please. Image sharpness, clarity and fine detail are impressive, with texturing on objects is plainly visible, as are the fine lines in the actors faces- that is, when they haven’t been digitally smoothed over, as in when the actors appear as their character’s idealized surrogate form. Also, the picture appears dimensional, even when digital elements are introduced. Colors are well saturated throughout, although they have been manipulated to some extent. Blacks usually appear quite deep and the whites are completely stable. Contrast has an edgy quality, but shadow detail can be fairly impressive. Despite digital tinkering, the picture retains a modest amount of grain that gives the presentation a film-like quality.

SURROGATES is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The sound is also quite solid and delivers everything one expects from a movie with the action/sci-fi sensibility. Anytime the action ratchets up, sound effects emanate from everywhere, with all of the outlying channels being exceedingly well utilized for the smooth panning of sonic elements. Talky passages are subdued, but there are also good levels of ambience to help create fairly convincing acoustic environments. Fidelity is quite strong, which produces convincing sound effects, as well as bolstering the musical component. The bass channel is deep and percussive, which intensifies gunfire, explosions, crashes and impacts. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Jonathan Mostow. Featurettes and other programs include the following: A More Perfect You: The Science Of Surrogates (fifteen minutes) and Breaking The Frame: A Graphic Novel Comes To Life (seven minutes). Deleted Scenes, the Breaking Benjamin Music Video for the song I Will Not Bow and Bonus Trailers close out the extras.

Personally, I really liked SURROGATES, but felt the film missed an opportunity for greatness. Had the story been more fully realized and the characters fleshed out this cautionary science fiction tale could have had a much larger impact. As for the Blu-ray, it delivers terrific high definition video and audio. Overall, SURROGATES comes recommended.



Surrogates [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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