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Saturday, August 4, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: TOTAL RECALL

IN THEATERS

TOTAL RECALL




Originally adapted by director Paul Verhoeven in 1990, author Philip K. Dick's classic sci-fi short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale returns to the big screen in this remake starring Colin Farrell, Bryan Cranston, and Kate Beckinsale, and directed by Underworld's Len Wiseman. The planet has been decimated by nuclear war in the late 21st century, leaving only two nations -- the United Federation of Britain and the Colony. Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is a factory worker with a stable job and a loving wife (Beckinsale), but upon learning that a company named Rekall could grant him the memory of the ultimate espionage adventure, he decides that a virtual vacation is better than no vacation at all. But in the midst of having the new memories implanted, something goes haywire. Still strapped to the chair as the system breaks down, he's branded a spy as the authorities close in, and quickly flees for his life. Later, Quaid discovers that he has a secret identity, and he joins forces with rebel soldier Melina (Jessica Biel) on a mission to track down Matthias (Bill Nighy), the head of a fierce resistance movement that's been labeled a terrorist organization by the tyrannical Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston). Cohaagen seeks to control the entire free world, and now the harder Quaid fights to defeat him, the clearer it becomes that his memory had been altered long before he walked into Rekall. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Director: Len Wiseman

Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine

Release Date: Aug 03, 2012

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity and language

Runtime: 1 hr. 49 min.

Genres: Action/Adventure

Review:

The 1990 Total Recall was one of the few Arnold Schwarzenegger films I’ve always had a real affection for, the other being Predator. With Paul Verhoeven inspired direction it was on of those classic 90’s sci-fi films that just worked on so many levels. To say that this remake is pointless and ultimately soulless kind undersells the point. Les Wiseman has made a career of “borrowing” styles from other better films and for this he seems to have just lifted entire visual styles from other directors and films (Minority Report, Blade Runner & J.J. Abrams wonderful lens flare amongst the most obvious). His film has a polish but it’s about as hacky as it gets. The plot is roughly the same from the 1990 film except Mars and air have been replaced with Blade Runner-esque Australia and invasion. Outside of that the plot hits the basic bullet points and even replicates some of the scenes with the shiny new veneer except everything feels rushed, lacking any depth. Colin Farrell is in cruise control for the better part of the film and honestly he isn’t asked to do much, ditto for Jessica Biel whose character is about as one dimensional as they come. Kate Bekinsale works her badass chick routine while looking steely the entire time. Considering her character was the combination of 2 characters from the 1990 film, you’d think there’d be more depth to her but like everybody else in the move she’s just asked to follow the threadbare script and look good posing for the camera. On the bright side, you can make a great drinking game out of the number of time she’s got her mouth slightly open while eye banging the camera. Bryan Cranston’s Cohaagen barely registers, wasting the wonderful talents of a fine actor. Bill Nighy appears and disappears from the screen so quickly you’d barely notice him. There are some visually fun action sequences here but nothing close enough to justify the remake. Occasionally remakes surprise you, other times they remind you that just because it’s new doesn’t mean its better.

D+

12 comments:

  1. Yeah, I'm reviewing this next along with the original. It was average at best. I didn't hate it, but you're right - it's definitely soulless and pointless. I thought the visual style [which isn't original but whatever] and Beckingsale were the highlights. Other than that, the original still holds up extremely well and that's the only TOTAL RECALL worth seeing. Great review!

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    1. Thanks man, I'll be looking forward to reading your thoughts!

      It was watchable but just really hacky direction and pointless, didn't bring anything new to the table you know. Like you said the original is the only one worth watching.

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  2. so true. no depth at all, and very hacky as you said. while i liked beckinsale, and the cinematography, it all felt rushed and not careful. it's a large plot, but this was water down and emotionally all over the place.

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    1. It was just so vapid, I did enjoy the visuals but they were borrowed so unabashedly that it was hard to overlook.

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  3. wow, one helluva harsh review!
    gonna see it end of August and although my expectations aren't that high, I have to admit that I like the trailer a lot, and that I#m quite excited for it. Fingers crossed :)

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    1. Trailer looked decent but just expect them to take the story somewhere else, something new if they were going to bother remaking it.

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    2. Rewatched the original just a few days ago - my goodness, I almost forgot how awesome it is!

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    3. Original really is pretty impressive, right up there with Predator as one of my favorite Arnie films.

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  4. I like the original Total Recall. I'm not excited with this remake and haven't seen it yet.

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    1. Might be best to just for it on video.

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  5. It’s not the most inventive remake out there, but it’s still a fun one that has you suspend your belief and turn off your brain for about 2 hours, and just enjoy what’s on display. Can’t see too much wrong with that, can you? Good review Daniel.

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    1. Thanks as always Dan! My affection for the original kind of keeps me from being objective sadly but even though I can see how it could be a fun light 2 hours.

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