Surrogates (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Crime / Science Fiction / Thriller
Touchstone || PG13 - 89 minutes - $39.99 || January 26, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-01-18


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Jonathan Mostow
Writer(s): Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele (graphic novel); Michael Ferris & John Brancato (screenplay)
Cast: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames


Theatrical Release Date: September 25, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • 2 Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Music Video


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Chalk this up to yet another disappointing film of many disappointments. Surrogates never had the air of originality as it looked like a lighter and even cheaper version of I, Robot meets Terminator, but I still thought it could’ve been one hell of an entertaining movie. Well, I was partially satisfied yet at the end was left wanting more.

Bruce Willis stars as FBI Agent Tom Greer in a world where the majority of the population uses surrogate robots to do the dirty daily grind rather than the difficult task of getting up, walking about and personally interacting with others. Instead these robots, who can look like anyone their owner chooses, goes to work and even enjoys the nightlife while the owner sits back at home. And if you’re the creator of the surrogate program (JAMES CROMWELL), you can have more than surrogate.

One of the up sides to having a surrogate is you can do anything you want without repercussions. You can have indiscriminate sex without worrying about communicative diseases. You can jump from any height and only have to do any repairs to your surrogate while your human body remains unharmed. That is until a new weapon is used that would not only terminate a surrogate, frying the robot’s chips and other parts, but it would also kill its owner who is plugged in.

Now it is up to Greer to find the person or persons responsible for the deaths and recover the weapon.

However, there are those who are venimently against the surrogate program, and their leader known as “The Prophet” (VING RHAMES sporting a bitch’n set of dreadlocks) who works to shut it all down at any cost. These humans are located in their own zone, called Dread Reservations, all across the world.

I’m not saying I had high expectations for Surrogates as the trailers never made it look anymore than a bigger budgeted, higher profile cast version of some lame SyFy Channel movie, but I do like Bruce Willis and at least the plot was semi intriguing.

Speaking of the cast, and the aforementioned Bruce Willis, although the story tries its best to give these characters some emotional depth, especially in the case of Willis’ Greer, it never reached that level partially because the film felt rushed. Clocking in at under 90-mintes, the movie is pretty lean as it is taking the action formula to heart from an action sequence, to story, to action, to story and then some sort of emotional and thought-provoking finale. Given Buena Vista eventually released this in the dead zone of September, they probably didn’t have any idea how to market it. It might be too provocative for a summer flick but not good enough for a fall release either.

Along with Bruce Willis, the cast includes a couple good talents such as Radha Mitchell (Man on Fire), Rosamund Pike (Fracture) and a couple normally reliable actors in Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible) and James Cromwell (The Queen), but both of them were woefully underutilized.

Unfortunately, nothing really pans out right. While Jonathan Mostow is certainly a capable action director – and yes I know many people despise Terminator 3, but I thought he did an admirable job in what really was an unwinnable situation – yet unlike T3, there wasn’t really a marquee action sequence I could hang my hat on. Sure, some of the action was cool but nothing stood out. You have yet another sequence where we are taken by surprise as a car t-bones another car from the passenger’s POV.

Overall, Surrogates is an OK sci-fi actioner, but it could’ve been so much more. Willis tries his best to do what he’s given as do the supporting cast, but the story never gave them much opportunity. So, I’m on the fence with this one as the action sequences, though not really memorable, are none-the-less entertaining, everything else however doesn’t measure up.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Blu-ray release comes with a shiny, semi-reflective, slip cover.

Audio Commentary – Director Jonathan Mostow sits down for an informative commentary that sticks to the facts of the production, how he decided to use certain lenses and aspects of the story and adapting it from the graphic novel.

A More Perfect You (14:34; HD) – This featurette examines the realities of surrogates and where the technology is now. We get interviews with members of the cast and crew as well as those in the robotics fields. Actually, this was somewhat fascinating as I didn’t realize how far along we really are... ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Breaking the Frame: A Graphic Novel Comes to Life (6:33; HD) – As the title implies, this featurette takes a look at the original graphic novel and its origins to making it into a feature film. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Deleted Scenes (6:03; HD) – There are only four scenes that are pretty inconsenquential though one where a human vagrant walks into a train car and starts desecrating on the surrogates whose owners have checked out was interesting. The rest? Not so much. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Last is a music video (3:49; HD) from Breaking Benjamin.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Surrogates is presented in its original 2.40 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. The video doesn’t have the visual punch I like to see especially out of a recent action genre release. The picture is clear enough and void of any major flaws like dust or pixilation, but it’s not something that jumps off the screen. The detail levels on the faces and background images are nice and the dispersion of colors were well done.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio on the other hand offers a wide range across each channel with dialogue levels sounding very clear and any audio effects (cars crashing, machines running, etc) were also well balanced. This might not be one of the best audio presentations, but certainly respectable as one would expect from a Buena Vista release.



.::OVERALL::.

Surrogates is an exercise in not fulfilling potential. It’s a science fiction film that has some of the right pieces from a competent director with Jonathan Mostow – in spite of what some Terminator fanboys might say – and a star who does his best with a role that never is quite fulfilling. The Blu-ray has good, though not outstanding, audio and video presentations while the features are also nothing of note. However, if you can find this on the cheap, it might be worth picking up.