Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More on Limitless and Surrogates


Red wine is my NZT; a couple of glasses and things really do start becoming so much clearer. The trouble is that somewhere between glasses three and four these new powers mysteriously vanish. As noted yesterday, Limitless had me flinching a little at the notion of what I might have achieved already in this life if I had been able to maintain my lucidity levels permanently at the one glass of vino levels.

It also reminded me of another excuse I have for underachievement: I could never sign off on a concept as sloppily concretised as this one was. If an outline idea for a narrative were to occur to me, say one along the lines of Limitless or Surrogates, I'd need to think it all the way through, to make sure there weren't any obvious holes in it and to make sure as well that my story at least attempted to explore all the more interesting implications therein.

Hollywood scriptwriters seem to have collectively opted out of this sense of responsibility / accountability. What exactly does NZT do, for example? Is it improving neural connections, memory, deductive reasoning or all of these things? Eddie can learn a new language in days, but he can also deal with some subway punks simply by accessing his recollections of Bruce Lee movies. Yet no matter how good my visual memory is I'm never going to be able to play tennis like Raffa Nadal just by watching him on court. Nor indeed could Nadal practice his own serve by viewing repeated playbacks under the influence of NZT. These are physical memories, not visual ones.

I imagine that whoever wrote Surrogates might have been hanging out in SL or World of Warcraft one day and thought to himself, what if the avatars were made of metal and latex instead of 0s and 1s? It's not a bad concept, but the plot that has been built around it is so perfunctory that one finds oneself seeking scraps of entertainment behind it in the production design and in the few occasions the director has been left with to showcase the sociological ramifications of the situation.

As for me, I'd have got stuck on the thought that physical avatars would transform a city of 10m individuals into one of 20m.


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