Bruce Willis’ “Surrogates” asks the following question: Would you like to kick back in the safety of your own home while your much better looking robot double heads out into the world in your stead? That’s a question almost everyone in this movie (in theaters Friday, September 25) has answered in the affirmative, which has worked out fairly well until surrogates and their real-life users begin to die. It’s up to Willis as FBI Agent Greer to solve the murders and maybe bring humanity out of this techno-induced indolence.
How are critics answering the question of whether or not “Surrogates” is worth checking out this weekend? The reviews are in, and MTV News has gathered them so you can decide for yourself.
Our own Kurt Loder called “Surrogates” “a sci-fi thriller with heart,” praising the way it conveys Greer’s melancholy life and “never roils the story’s despairing mood for standard FX uproar”
” ‘Surrogates’ is an intense and eerily plausible sci-fi thriller,” Variety‘s Todd McCarthy wrote. “[It] distinguishes itself from countless other thematically overlapping films by being not about robots run amok, but about humans seduced by the easy life; humanity here has ‘advanced’ so far that it has become subordinate to its substitute. As a cautionary sci-fier, it’s not all that far removed from such classics as ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ and ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers.’ ”
Others don’t see “Surrogates” coming close to the realm of classic sci-fi territory. ” ‘Surrogates’ naturally wants to reap some of the praise and permanent fandom accorded ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘RoboCop,’ ” Claudia Puig wrote in USA Today. “Instead, it more resembles Michael Crichton’s ‘Looker’ (in which sinister surgery further ‘perfects’ dishy advertising models), one of the more risible misfires of 1981.”
While critics seem to disagree over just how “Surrogates” fits into sci-fi history, most of them had positive words for Willis. “The [movie] poster image of a greying and grizzled Willis is a tip that ‘Surrogates’ isn’t just another of the actor’s paycheque gigs,” Peter Cowell of the Toronto Star said. “He pulls double duty here, as both human and robot, and actually breaks a sweat and comes close to tears.”
Comparing “Surrogates” with another recent sci-fi offering, UGO.com’s Jordan Hoffman came away impressed. “The very entertaining ‘Surrogates’ achieves something a disaster like ‘Gamer’ could never achieve — it is intellectually stimulating enough to keep you intrigued while never forgetting its obligation as B-movie fun,” he said.
Katey Rich of CinemaBlend.com couldn’t disagree more, calling “Surrogates” a film “that is handed a fascinating concept and slaps onto it a generic conspiracy plot that’s as boring as it is impossible to follow.”
Ultimately, then, it all depends on how you react to the film’s central premise of humans controlling robotic doppelgangers. Bestowing three out of four stars to “Surrogates,” the New York Post‘s Kyle Smith wrote, “The conceit is an amazingly flexible satiric instrument that simultaneously spoofs video and online gamers, Hollywood (the streets of Boston are filled with impossibly good-looking people — yet they all have a creepy waxworks quality), drug addiction and sloth. … The fun is in the world it creates.”
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