Crazies, The

An “Olyphant” never forgets…especially when you brutally murder every person he knows in the town he’s sworn to protect!

Timothy Olyphant plays Sheriff David Dutton as he struggles to escape the formerly peaceful town of Ogden Marsh with his wife, played by the always intense Radha Mitchell, and his faithful deputy, Joe Anderson, after the remaining citizens have gone, you guessed it, CRAZY-in Breck Eisner’s remake of George Romero’s The Crazies (1973).  The madness is the result of an Army cargo plane carrying biowarfare toxins crashing into Ogden Marsh’s local water supply.  Having not seen the original, this review will be focused on Eisner’s film alone, and I’m not “crazy” about it.

I promise that’s the last “crazy” pun.

Eisner’s competent direction demonstrates the All-American qualities of Ogden Marsh early in the picture, making the initial Crazies incidents all the more disturbing, particularly when a man walks into the outfield of the local High School’s opening baseball game with a loaded shotgun.  Eisner’s wisely plays up the “This sort o' shit don’t happen here” factor, as a local farmer burns his family alive in their home.  An almost throw away moment of old-school bureaucratic incompetence occurs when Dutton, having learned the threat is in the water supply and wants to shut it off temporarily, is rebuffed by the Mayor (John Aylward), as it would be bad for the farming business.

The film contains quite a few genuine scares in addition to the above-mentioned baseball field and farmhouse, making particularly good use of sound effects to build tension in a key sequence. You will never go into a carwash with the same feeling of comfort and safety again.  Or at the very least, you will not be so frustrated with a bad buffing job after you see how angry the attendants could get.

The Crazies themselves are less than memorable.  These are not zombies, vampires, monsters, or any other form of undead creature.  They are your friends and neighbors that have gotten very sick.  They reminded me of the villagers in early sections of Resident Evil 4 : sickly and homicidal, but not particularly exciting.  At least not until the end, when our heroes accidently blunder into the Redneck Crazies secret “Lair of Yuck.”  But even these Rednecks didn't want the Duttons to squeal like pigs, they just wanted to eat them.

Ironically the most disturbing imagery had nothing to do with the titular Crazies, but with the U.S. Army.  Having discovered the location of their downed aircraft, the Army rounds up everyone in Ogden Marsh in the middle of the night, forces them onto buses, takes them to a camp where they are poked, prodded, tested, separated from their loved ones, and not told anything about what is going on.  After this, the driving push of the film is escaping the town... which involves a lot of walking.

Lord of the Rings-level walking.

The film drags here. Not because it's too long, but because there’s too little actually going on-and what does occur is not particularly threatening. When the Army is ready to kill everyone in a 60 mile radius, random crazy people are just not as daunting a threat.

With the exception of a truly remarkable example of the "Will to Win” by Olyphant, the second half of the film drags to its predictable conclusion complete with sequel setup.  But, if there's a second film, the Duttons' “are never gonna survive, unless [they] get a little….

Ok. I lied. One more pun.

Surrogates

In the future, everyone has a sexy robot version of themselves that they pilot around to avoid being ugly. A side effect of this is no one can actually die, until Jack Noseworthy shows up with a what appears to be an industrial flashlight that fries users through their robots.

Welcome to the world Surrogates.

The whole living through robots thing sucks all the life out of the whole movie. If the characters are never in danger, where's the excitement? Nowhere, dammit.  Surrogates commits the cardinal sin of making a boring action movie, which is a shame because director Jonathan Mostow directed the very exciting U-571 and the somewhat exciting Terminator 3, so his next movie is sure to be a grand achievement in the realm of boring.

The main failure of this movie is not knowing what the audience wants and expects. In Surrogates, everyone has been worked over with that CGI smoothing technique they used in X-men 3 to make Xavier and Magneto young again. It works fine for a minute or so, but more than half a movie with it, and you realize just how plastic the technique makes people look.  Not only do we not want dull action movies, we do want Bruce Willis to be bald and grizzled. He's made his career out of being a wise cracking tough guy, and seeing him smoothed out with bright pink lips and a bad blond hair piece is just disturbing. You know that one guy holding onto to youth too hard? Computer generated hussy Willis looks like that, but creepier.

You can be anything with these surrogates? Why doesn't the world look more like Second Life? Oh, because no one would want to see that movie. . .

The movie I did want to see, tucked away inside Surrogates, was about the rebel faction that refuses to use surrogates and are second-class citizens as a result.  How do they undermine the rest of the world if they are completely out numbered by android puppets that are ten times as durable as they are? (With shotguns, to start)

All of those questions go unanswered, and I grew stiff with boredom as I realized that anything bad that happened to most of the main characters was that they would get kicked off an online video game. You use a surrogate, you probably run the risk of a host of other issues as well, like diabetes, weird sexual fetishes and demonstrating a super exaggerated version of John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory , but none of that makes me want to pay attention to you.

After meandering around a murder mystery in a way that telegraphed the conclusion in the first ten minutes, Bruce Willis...

[slider title="spoiler"] saves everyone from being killed but destroys all the surrogates in a comic scene where they all just fall over with hysterical clangs and clinks around the extremely clean version of the city of Boston. Now everyone can live their lives the way god intended, the end.[/slider]

This movie is sticks to classic paranoia tropes of technology ruining humanity and, as such, would go great with Johnny Mnemonic, or Robocop 2 at any Cavalcade. Just keep the booze on hand

Just in case you were wondering, some of us thought U-571 and T3 were terrible too-The Management