I admit that when I heard that the Total Recall remake was going to exclude the entire Martian storyline of the original that raised a warning flag for me. It was with some hesitancy that I went to see this latest version. The good news is, the settings on Earth still function to create “haves” and “have nots” for the plot, just like the original. This version of the film has some great action sequences. In fact, the action scenes and the future world that was created for this film are the reasons to go see the movie.
The plot of this film is similar to the original. A man named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is bored with his life so he visits a company named Rekall that will implant memories of whatever fantasy he desires. He chooses a secret agent fantasy, but things go wrong when it is discovered that he is a real secret agent already living with implanted memories. All hell breaks loose then as seemingly everyone, including his wife (Kate Beckinsale) and best friend (Bokeem Woodbine) are out to get him. There’s a nice touch where Beckinsale goes from a flat accent to her normal British accent when she is revealed.
Quaid is desperately trying to figure out what is going on and he eventually runs into the woman of his dreams – literally. Melina (Jessica Biel) rescues him and he is stunned because he has been having a recurring dream about a woman that looks exactly like her. She tells him it wasn’t a dream; it was his real memories trying to surface.
While the original made it clear (after a second viewing anyway) that it was all an implanted fantasy, this version of the film does not pick sides. There is no scene like in the original where images that are going to be implanted do show up later in the movie. And while the original came right out and had the Quaid character say he hoped that this wasn’t all in his head, this version just has Quaid notice a Rekall ad and briefly stop to consider that things might have been too good to be true in the adventure he just had, but he seems to quickly push that thought aside. The more “James Bond”ish events in this film can be explained away as just being part of the implanted fantasy, though. (There was a nice touch early on where Quaid was reading the James Bond novel The Spy Who Loved Me while he was commuting to work.)
You may be wondering about the Richter character, who was played by Michael Ironside in the original film. Beckinsale’s character essentially is a combination of the wife played by Sharon Stone in the original, and the Richter character who relentlessly pursued Quaid. She gets to be pretty badass in this film, as you would expect since it is directed by the same man who made her an action star in the first two Underworld films – Len Wiseman. Beckinsale liked what he did for her image so much that she ended up marrying him. She gets to be a lot sexier than Jessica Biel in this film, but that’s to be expected since it’s her husband doing the directing.
gets some good action heroine scenes of her own, though. By the way, there is some equal opportunity eye candy early on where Farrell has his shirt off for an extended period and you can tell he had been working out. Biel
The three principals all do decent jobs in their roles. There won’t be any Oscar nominations for them, but really, did anyone watch the original expecting
to play anything other than himself? Farrell does a better job acting than Arnold did. He makes the character a little more believable as an “everyman” at the beginning. I also want to mention that Bill Nighy and John Cho had cameos as the resistance leader and the Rekall scientist, respectively. Arnold
A couple areas that might receive nominations are Visual Effects and perhaps Art Direction. The future world that these characters live in is very well realized on the screen. The premise is that in the 21st century most of the Earth was rendered uninhabitable due to chemical warfare. What was left of humanity crowded into the British Isles and
. There is a maglev transport tube through the Earth connecting these two areas. Australia , now known just as The Colony, is a poor section filled with a teeming collection of all kinds of humanity. On the other hand, the “United Federation of Britain” is where all the power is, including the leader Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston). Australia
The designs for these two very different regions were very well done. Most of the technology was well-extrapolated from what we have now – close enough to be recognizable, but different enough to not date the film. Examples are tattoos that glow, phones embedded in hands that can project video onto any glass surface, and cars that can levitate. In fact, magnetic levitation (or “maglev” for short) seems to be the predominant technology for all transportation.
In addition to the change in setting, the next biggest change from the original is that this version is more serious. It doesn’t have the cheesy jokes and funny one-liners of the original. I actually like this choice. As much as I liked them in the original, hearing “consider this a divorce” coming from Colin Farrell’s mouth just wouldn’t have been the same. He does utter a “till death do us part” threat at one point, though. This version isn’t an action comedy like the first one (i.e.
pulling a huge tracer out through his nose after wrapping a towel around his head to block the signal). After an opening sequence that sets everything up, this remake is really a balls to the wall action movie. Arnold
There are a few nods to the original film. There are no cameos by the original cast, but the character of the three breasted prostitute appears very briefly. By the way, there’s a lot of complaining on IMDB about “how can a woman have three breasts if she’s not on Mars soaking up all the radiation?” It’s called polymastia folks. It’s real. Look it up. And even if she’s not one of the thousands of women who have it naturally, I’m sure surgery could provide the solution.
Another nod to the original is when Quaid is trying to make it through Customs in
. There is a woman that looks a lot like the character Britain was disguised as in the original. (It’s not the same actress, though.) There is also a brief mention of Mars, but not about there being a colony. Arnold
My biggest complaint with the film is that Wiseman apparently has decided that the lensflare is the new shakycam. These streaks of light kept appearing on the screen so frequently, and so geometrically, that I started to wonder if the projector in the theater had something wrong with it. They were even showing up where there was no light source to create them. (Comments on IMDB have shown me that many others had the same thing happen, so it was the film, not the projector.) Wiseman had to be intentionally lighting the scene to create them, or adding them in digitally afterwards. Like most shakycam directors he was probably doing this to get people to notice his work and not the actors. I also have to mention that the opening scene is filled with such a quick strobing light that it made me wonder if people prone to epileptic seizures might need to avoid it. (I’m serious.) Thankfully, it never occurred again after that scene.
I saw the original when it opened in theaters and I liked it a lot. I saw this one today and I also liked it. This was actually my best theater going experience in years because there was not one single person talking, texting, leaving for the bathroom, coming in late, loudly munching popcorn, slurping on a straw, kicking my seat, making wiseass comments, etc. This was due to the fact that I was the only person in the theater. Yes, it was an 11:30 AM showing through lunch on a Wednesday, but it’s still only six days since it opened. That doesn’t bode well for the longevity of the film.
I gave both the original and the remake three stars. It’s not really a question of which one is better because they are different kinds of films that happen to be based on the same Philip K. Dick short story. When I saw this version I was ready for a good action film and this filled that need. If you are looking for anything more than that, then you may want to skip this movie. For everyone else, I recommend you give this film a try.
Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Good review Chip. This film is a bunch of fun, but sadly, not much else. It barely has any tension and as much CGI Wiseman throws at us, we never really get lost in the world that he's trying to re-create in his own, 2012-ish way.ReplyDelete
Thanks. I agree the film is fun.Delete
I nominated you for a Liebster award. http://www.kl5film.com/2012/08/liebster-award-time.htmlReplyDelete
Thanks. I tried to reply at that link a couple of minutes ago, but after I pressed Publish it hasn't shown up. If it never shows up I thanked you, said I had received it and posted on it a couple weeks ago, and answered your questions there.Delete
Excellent review but I kinda was let down. I was hoping for an engaging film but it turned out to be 'hey, I know what's going to happen next' kind of film. The action sequences are swiftly edited, most of times you don't even see what's happening, who's kicking who. CGI was goodReplyDelete
I know what you mean on the editing. I had been looking forward to the fight between Beckinsale and Biel, but the editing of it made it hard to follow what was happening some of the time.Delete
Great review and I like how you distinguish between the original and the remake. I have absolutely no expectations from the remake and although I grew up watching the original, I am not a fan so i'll watch the remake like i'd watch any sci-fi film. Cheers!ReplyDelete
Thanks. I seem to be in the minority in not hating this remake, but at the same time most people who hate it wanted to see a jokey movie more like the original and didn't get it.Delete
Great review! I may catch it on DVD, though I hear Cranston is very underused here and it annoys me - every movie he is in doesn't even try to use his talent. I may enjoy Beckinsale running around though, that's always nice to watch.ReplyDelete
Yes, Cranston is a relatively smaller character compared to the main three. His onscreen time is comparable to Bokeem Woodbine's - more than a cameo, but not constant through the movie.Delete
And I just corrected a damn typo I had in this post ("lose" instead of "loose"). I swear I proof read this thing three or four times before I posted it and still missed it.