Sunday, October 18, 2009

This Month in Movies


So a few weeks ago, I went downtown to hang out with my Ukrainian buddy and his girlfriend to celebrate our mutual employment. We ended up going to see Surrogates, and here are my thoughts on it.

Here's the premise. Mankind has perfected robotic technology, and 99% of the planet now live their lives through robots called Surrogates. Plugged into an interface and sitting in a chair, they control their robotic self as they do all their daily tasks. Crime rates have plummeted, and Violent crime is nearly non-existent. Until, that is, the son of the inventor of surrogate technology is killed by feedback from his surrogate being killed, which is supposedly impossible. Bruce Willis plays an FBI agent investigating the case.

My biggest impression of this movie was wasted potential. There were flashes of true brilliance here, that a bit more polish could have brought out. There were a lot of really great things that the movie touched on, that, had they done a bit more with them, could have really made an impact. For example, at the beginning, there's a scene where the afore mentioned son of the surrogate inventor goes to a club. Obviously, it's populated only by surrogates, and the whole scene suggests the dissociation between these robots and the people behind them. Not only can the person behind the machine be anybody, but they treat the surrogates quite recklessly. There is absolutely nothing remaining of the whole “body is a temple” idea.

Unfortunately, this idea is essentially abandoned, or treated as less than important. One of the things I would have liked to see a bit more of was uncanny behavior. A few actors really had that down, behaving subtly off, and producing a sense of disquiet, or wrong-ness, but for the most part, this was also neglected, which was really too bad.

Anyway, It wasn't bad, but I can't wholeheartedly recommend it. Might be worth a rental or a download.

One movie, however, I can recommend with every fiber of my being, and that is...


Zombieland is the most fun I've had at the movies in years. In fact, its hard to remember any movie I've seen recently which had the pure entertainment value that Zombieland offers.

Here's a quick rundown of the "plot." Without dawdling, we are plunged into a zombie-infested world with a wonderfully creative introductory sequence in which Columbus, our main protagonist, explains his rules for zombie survival. Shortly, we are introduced to Tallahassee, another survivor, although he doesn't so much survive as thrive. A line that comes close to summing up his character is "Momma always said 'Everyone's good at something.' Who'd have thought my something would be killing zombies?" Our two other main characters are Wichita and Little Rock, two con-artist sisters, heading for California.

I've heard this described as a video-game movie not based on a game, and Left4Dead: The Movie. Both are not too far from the truth. Zombieland's audience is clearly the gamer generation, as is apparent from the tone of the film.

Zombieland approaches zombie-killing with a sense of determined glee, as if to say, "you and I both know zombie-killing is awesome, but just in case anyone is in doubt, watch this!" The movie is, without a doubt, a comedy, and yet it never falls into the trap of becoming campy. It's violent and gory, but never dependent on violence for shock value, or slapstick.

Thankfully, since we're a ways into the zombie apocalypse, we don't have to deal with the bane of my existence: stupid people. Why? They're all dead! Woohoo! Our 4 main characters are interesting, and together carry a sense of charm that allows the audience to easily connect to at least one of them. Know how in most zombie films, there's an idiot you hope is the first to get eaten? Not here.

Above all, the movie knows what kind of movie it wants to be, which is pure fun and entertainment, and it does that so well, I am almost mad at it. I laughed and clapped throughout the entirety of the movie, and I was physically incapable of stopping smiling after I left the theater. It's funny, scary, heartwarming, and awesome.

See this movie. Do it.

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