Blu-ray Review: Surrogates

Blu-ray Edition
Directed by Jonathan Mostow
Starring Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames, Rosamund Pike
Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
Release date: January 26, 2010

Stick a movie in front of me that features Bruce Willis as a member of Law Enforcement and so help me I’ll watch it. From Die Hard to, um, Live Free Or Die Hard — via The Last Boy Scout and Sin City, among many others — Willis has defined the straight-talking no-nonsense no-shaving vest-wearing law-ignoring cop. Surrogates is the latest Willis movie to hit DVD/Blu-ray — a sci-fi action thriller based on the graphic novel of the same name — and this time he’s a robocop.

In the not-too-distant future most of the world’s population rarely venture outside their own homes. Instead they spend their lives as operators, connected to their stem chairs seeing life through robot surrogates. Thanks to a Supreme Court ruling more than 10 years ago, over 98% of the population use surrogates in daily life; they go to work, they do the shopping. Thanks to this statistic, crime in the U.S. is down 99% and all other bad things like racism and sexism have seen a huge decline. Surrogates were initially developed to help disabled people, used only in a medical context. Then costs came down and eventually these robots became affordable to regular people and private use of surrogates became popular.

Surrogates are you, but much better in every way: flawless skin, perfect hair, they cannot be hurt, and should they be destroyed, you can just buy a new one. This is a world populated by only beautiful people. This is life”¦ only better.

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‘Surrogates’ Behind-The-Scenes Images & Facts
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Surrogates, based on the Top Shelf graphic novel The Surrogates by Robert Venditti, stars Bruce Willis as a cop in a future where people don’t leave the house. Instead, they interact through the world by using robots or “Surrogates.” But now, someone has found a way to kill the users and Willis has to track down the killer before the whole system collapses.

Surrogates arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on January 26, 2010. To prepare you for the release, we have some facts to pass along to you about Surrogates that you may not know, along with some behind-the-scenes photos from the film.

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Conversations with GoD: ‘Surrogates’ Writer Robert Venditti
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A couple of weeks back I was able to talk with Robert Venditti, author of The Surrogates comic book series, as well as its follow up, Surrogates: Flesh and Bone. We were able to talk about not just his books, but also the film adaptation released this weekend starring Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames. Here’s what he had to say.

Geeks of Doom: What was the genesis of The Surrogates?

Robert Venditti: When I was in grad school at the University of Central Florida, I was in a class called the Literature of the Internet, we read a book called The Cyber Gypsies, which was a non fiction book a guy had written about people addicted to the internet, mostly through online gaming, and people would create these personas for themselves, and they would so identify with those personas, they would lose their jobs or get divorced because they would spend so much time maintaining that persona in the computer. So that was an idea that stuck with me, the sort of basic need we all seem to have to be something other than who we are, and that kicked around in my head for a year or two. And then I started to see a lot of shows on TV about people getting radical plastic surgery, like Extreme Makeover, Dr. 90210, and then that idea melded with the idea from the Cyber Gypsies and made me think about what would happen if we take the world now, where you create this persona for yourself on the internet, what if the technology existed where you can create this persona and that could go out into the world and live your life in your place. And that was where the whole idea started.

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Comic Review: The Surrogates & The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone
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The Surrogates
The Surrogates: Vol 1
The Surrogates: Vol 2: Flesh & Bone
The Surrogates Operator’s Manual: Vol 1 & 2 (Hardcover)
Written by Robert Venditti
Art by Brett Weldele
Top Shelf Productions
Available Now

The Surrogates caught me by surprise when it came out a few years ago. Here was a book with a unique premise, which appealed to the Sci-Fi fan in me, as well as the crime drama/mystery fan. The story was fairly unique to me: In the future most people will not leave their houses at all, they do all their business and interactions through the use of realistic looking robots called Surrogates. These surrogates have changed all aspects of society: cops don’t have to worry about being killed in the line of duty; gender roles are easily switched by using a surrogate opposite of the users actual gender; and body image is no longer a problem, since your surrogate can be as good looking as you want it to be. All of this changes when someone begins to go around destroying other people’s surrogates. What follows is an examination of how we interact with each other in an online world, the role of religion verses technology, and really just a well crafted mystery.

The original Surrogates mini-series, by Robert Venditti is an interesting piece of work. It’s one of the most thought provoking series that I have read over the last few years. The world we live in today is one where people can go years without actually meeting people they interact with every day. You can keep up with complete strangers via any number of message boards, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, or a million other social networks. You can raid a dungeon in World of Warcraft with someone who could be half a world away, or they could be your next door neighbor, and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. The Surrogates takes the concept of this isolation that many people live their lives in today, and asks what would happen if no one had to leave their house if they didn’t want to. The best thing it does though, is take this interesting concept, and wraps it up in an also interesting murder mystery.

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