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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm very much anti-remake. If the original worked, leave it alone. In
the case of the 1990 Total Recall we had what was built to be the
biggest movie yet made starring the biggest movie star around. Yep,
that sounds like a viable candidate for remaking.
In a future where most of the Earth is decimated, Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) can't shake his adventurous dreams. He heads to Rekall where vacations come in the form of memory transplants. In the process of becoming his own secret agent, Quaid discovers that his life is a lie. Wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale filling in for Sharon Stone but doubling for Michael Ironside and offering the best performance of the film) leads a chase to capture the awakened Quaid. Meanwhile freedom fighter Melina (Jessica Biel) attempts to persuade Quaid into finding his true identity and leading the cause against oppression.
This version of Total Recall does feature some upgrades. Of course visuals have come a long way. Where the original only had one computer-animated sequence involving primitive animated X-rays, this version has all the bells and whistles. There are maglev cars, a myriad of elevators, and a multitude of future housing developments. The art direction is noteworthy albeit not entirely original these days. You can see a frame of the 1990 version and understand immediately what you're looking at with its consumer-ready technology; do the same with this movie and it's another film looking back at Blade Runner. Fight sequences and most of the action come across as deft, if not too numerous.
The omission of the plot to free mars creates a chasm of asinine edits. The people at peril are never characterized. Since they aren't sassy mutants, there's trouble in understanding the context of early fan service. Only two inhabitable territories exist in the world. The Colony as it's called (Australia) fills in for Mars but since it's the early setting of the film there isn't anything majestic about reaching it. The film hops between the Colony and the controlling British Federation with early going ease that it fails to divide acts.
The lack of Arnold Schwarzenegger helps one appreciate Arnold Schwarzenegger. For someone considered a bad actor, we never actually won a Razziehe actually got an honorary Razzie for failing to win the award, but did get a Golden Globe. Like Sylvester Stallone, Schwarzenegger's typical role at the time of the 1990 original, exuded masculinity. However, the difference is in the touches of humor that always cropped up in the Schwarzenegger films. One can't watch Predator without shouting to get to the chopper. Transversely Stallone's Rambo never brings the fun factor. Looking back at Total Recall (1990), little touches from Arnold make even the most gratuitous of Paul Verhoeven gore strangely comical. That odd nature interjects the ardor today's films overlook. This remake is clinical. No mars, no mutants, no soul.
When I heard the news that Total Recall was being remade, I was just as
disappointed as most were out there. However, I never hate a film based
on such a simple principle. Before the release, I was simply curious as
to what direction they were going to take with this film.
I always rate a film on two scales: The technical aspects (an objective scale), and if I actually liked it (subjective scale). I'm pretty forgiving with science fiction films so I'll keep my review as objective as possible.
Pros: The futuristic world that has been imagined for this film was well designed. Visually, the film is stunning. If you're the type that reads into the quirky inventions you see on screen, this film is littered with them.
There were plenty of action sequences, and most of the time the film gave us eye candy that we haven't seen before. It seemed as though a general theme in the film (besides "questioning what's real") was constant play with gravity. This may have been influenced by inception, but the world turns upside down a few times, and it's visually interesting.
Cons: The plot. It was there, but not as deep as you would hope for a "Total Recall" remake. There were a few cool things thrown in there, but the plot was definitely not the strong point of the film.
The action sequences. There were a lot of positive aspects to all the action, but the movie seemed to rely too heavily on it. The movie came off as one giant chase scene, and it became slightly repetitive after a while. If you like a little meat on your plot's backbone, you may want to lower your expectations a little bit before seeing this one.
Conclusion: Try not to think of this film as a literal remake of the original. Think of it as analogous to a band doing a cover of someone else's song... in a very different style. It lifts the ideas from the original film, and written source material, but takes a different spin on it.
In all, I liked it. I had my quips, but it's a movie that I gave a lot of forgiveness. From what I recall, it wasn't a TOTAL mess.
The acting was mediocre. In one scene I even felt an actor was having
difficulty with his lines and that's annoying! What's even more
annoying is that the main "bad guy" is a depraved, Teflon-coated,
wonder woman who can easily beat the stuffing out of our hero, despite
the fact he also happens to be a professionally trained killer with
muscles the size of bowling balls. Throughout the entire movie, this
wonder woman just keeps coming back like a pesty stalker. Hardly
getting a scratch until the very end. I was even waiting for her to
start talking like Clint Eastwood! She also enjoyed explaining herself
too much and I was really hoping she would get dispatched ASAP because
her presence was undermining the entire story!
I have to admit I cared about the good guys! I wanted them to win, but unlike the first Total Recall, I didn't care nearly as much. In the original film I desperately wanted the good guys to win! In the remake my feelings were muted. After all the remake has been dumbed-down, which makes it dull. Sure there's plenty of CGI eye candy and plenty of Clone Trooper-type guys in body armor getting miraculously mowed down at every corner. But the story is not edgy in the least! Unlike the original Total Recall, where you really didn't know if the good guys were going to win.
And the remake has no message, unlike the original. The original was about mind-bogglingly oppressive corporate greed and as a result you felt a wide range of strong emotions! So much was at stake!
I don't like it when a great story is reduced to so many campy clichés! There was great tension building in the first half of the film only to fall apart later! It's so obvious Hollywood focus-grouped the screenplay to death in order to pander to the teen and pre-teen boy segment of the movie going public! Too bad Philip K. Dick will be spinning in his grave tonight. Whoever owns the film rights to his stories should be ashamed of themselves and PLEASE make no more movies if this is the best you can do! Try to protect the man's legacy, instead!
Fond memories of Paul Verhoeven's "Total Recall" kept coming back while
watching this remake. Arnold Schwarzenegger's screen presence was also
an added plus in the 1990 film, as well as the one-liners, Mars and of
course heaps of bloody violence. If you've seen the original, then you
know how it goes.
Len Wiseman's remake of the same name replaces Arnold with Colin Farrell, in his first lead action role in years, while eliminating Mars as the backdrop of the action and replacing it with an overpopulated Earth where transportation from one corner to another occurs, literally, straight through the center of the earth. The rugged subterranean mazes of the red planet is replaced with dizzying skyscrapers and lots of sleek, flying cars, not unlike Philip K. Dick's own "Blade Runner" and "Minority Report".
Farrell can act and is definitely a strong action lead and it shows here, as per the beautiful ladies Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel who both show off brawn over beauty here. Alas, everything is taken way too seriously in this version. I have fonder memories of the Verhoeven/Arnold version where one-liners come post-Arnie-kill. Gone. Certain characters are trimmed or even cut completely from the original. Bryan Cranston's Cohaagen makes me miss Ronny Cox even more, and Bill Nighy's resistance leader doesn't stand out compared to the 1990 film. The best thing the screenwriters did is to combine Sharon Stone's and Michael Ironside's characters from the 1990 film into one, and as portrayed by Kate Beckinsale, she kicks serious ass here.
The script is a near complete rehash of the original, save for the setting and the final act of the film. The scene where Bokeem Woodbine's character tries to convince Quaid (Farrell) where he's still in a dream is certainly a standout scene which was very well done. Alas, the majority of the movie is laced with action sequences and sensational special effects (seriously, this is CGI porn) that may get this film a nomination for Best Visual Effects this year. No kidding. While the editing is fast-paced and the cinematography sleek (with a little too much lens flare ala J. J. Abrams), the music score by Harry Gregson- Williams was kind of bland in my opinion. It was just there, does its job, and I didn't care. Where's Marco Beltrami; or even for that matter his legendary mentor, the late, great Jerry Goldsmith when you need them?
Director Wiseman has a knack for action sequences ("Underworld", "Die Hard 4") and it shows aplenty here. Sadly the script could've been a whole lot better, but then again, if they had set it on Mars it would've been a shot-for-shot remake with better characters, but still I would've loved to see action on the Red planet once again. The PG-13 rating is justified, and there are indeed little homages to the original, but overall this remake is nothing more than a fast-paced, popcorn munching good waste of time, with some really nice CGI to chew on.
However, I'd rather watch the old one again. Arnie has a much stronger screen presence than Farrell and it is much more ambitious and has more heart than this sleeker, newer one.
Overall rating: 53%
This movie is one of those remakes which is not as good as the original
90s version. In other words it was pointless.
There is some continuing action that keeps one mildly engaged but the story is weak. The Arnie version had a clear and interesting plot with charm and wit remember "Sweetheart, be reasonable. After all, we're married!", "Consider this a divorce". Also the climax was grand and fascinating - the lack of oxygen bug eyed thing.
There are some vast multi level future cities that resemble an overcrowded Hong Kong or Shanghai. But the chase routines that race through them are repetitive after a while.
Kate Beckinsale's character kept popping back too many times and there is no reason why she is so relentless. Maybe just because her husband is the director. It was nice to see Jessica Biel in a big budget movie again. Colin Farrell plays a more regular guy than an action hero which is good but he doesn't have interesting lines to deliver.
Overall, see this if you want to but be warned it's not as good as the 90s version.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The thing that made the old Total Recall so great was that it kept a
certain level of fun going throughout the whole film. It threw Doug
Quaid through several crazy challenges and turnarounds in the story. It
was enjoyable to watch, and totally intrigued the viewer. It was campy.
It was, all in all, a great movie.
This remake forgot the entire element of fun, and instead replaced it with what the producers probably thought people wanted to see: more explosions.
It's just, simply put, bleh.
It's not very fun to watch. It's actually pretty boring in the scenes where there isn't action, and the scenes where there is action, it begins to get old very quickly.
I don't ever feel like it's my place to critique another person's acting, but there are a few exceptions. Farrell just doesn't seem like a great Quaid. He kind of just takes everything that is thrown at him, and gets over it. Schwarzenegger was thrown into the action and was always surprised with what came next. He wasn't ever ready, and that showed. It made it more exciting! Farrell always kind of keeps that "yeah, I'm a secret agent? okay." attitude going the entire movie.
The last thing: You have almost no doubt that Quaid is actually a secret agent in this one. The old one actually had you thinking it was possible that he was still back at Rekall; whereas the remake spells it out in the beginning: He is a secret agent. That's it. End of story. The point of the old Total Recall was that you were never really sure. Is it all fake? Or is it real? The remake completely missed that intrigue, which was a big part of the old one.
It will entertain the people who like action, and nothing else. The substance just isn't there, which is a bit of a letdown. I give it a four, because it looked pretty.
I wish I could recall the last two hours of my life. I really thought this movie would be fun - not good, mind you - but fun. A re-make of an old classic with an even bigger budget, better actors, and today's special effects would be worth 8 bucks. Plus Jessica Biel is sexy as hell. I was rewarded for my rare optimism by poor acting (seriously, the robots were more engaging); cliché dialogue (at one point, the villain actually said darkly, "Go handle it" to his henchman); and unpredictable plot-turns (the audience was kept guessing what the hell was going on). And these were all carefully scripted for the sole purpose of getting to the next action sequence - none of which had anything to do with the original movie. The only call-back to the original title was the appearance triple-titted hooker. No need to explain how the hell a regular human came to have these mammoth milk-monsters, because there are three of them. I should have walked out after they made their five-second cameo. I would have been happier.
I guess the floodgates are now open. Adapting Philip K. Dick's stories
are no longer enough, and now a trend may follow either to remake the
films that have already been done, to give it another spin for a new
generation, or how about remaking all of the films starring Arnold
Schwarzenegger, starting from Conan, and now Total Recall. For sure,
Colin Farrell can't step into the ex-Mr Universe's hulking frame in
playing the construction worker turned double agent Douglas Quaid
through what would seem like a fantasy walk in the park for the mind
gone all wrong, but if you'd put away your memory of the past film,
then his outing here would stand out against his recent slate of
projects, bringing him back to action-hero mould even if Len Wiseman's
vision here turned a little bit suspect.
Fans of the original film will see only slight similarities in this one, since it took on a different adventure altogether after the familiar introduction. Quaid experiencing a nightmare of a dream only to wake up beside the sexy wife in Lori (Kate Beckinsale, in a role played by Sharon Stone previously, in lingerie no less), and finding that there's probably more to life than just home and work. Enticed by the fantasy inducing company called Rekall where one can live out one's fantasy for a fee, Douglas soon discovers he got more than he bargained for. The contraption's design got brought over, and so did the cult favourite in the three breasted woman, which Singapore back then didn't get to see at all because our censors found it offensive and unreal. The identity mask also has another go, although with less fun, being solely functional and little else.
But what was sorely missed in this remake, is the quip after quip of Arnie-isms, those puns made each time Douglas Quaid did something smart alecky, dispatched an opponent, or just wanted to drawl on something in his Austrian accent. In the typical Arnie movie, there's always room for fun, jokes, and those legendary one liners. Here, all we get are dead serious moments, with the whole look and feel being laden with the need to feel all gritty. Colin Farrell wears a scowl throughout, being perplexed and confused about his true identity in Jason Bourne style complete with mysterious artifacts stored in a safe deposit box, and having doubts to the role he has to play in the entire battle between the Haves and Have Nots.
This Total Recall requires that you junk all memories of the Schwarzenegger film, in order to enjoy the new narrative involving a chemical fallout across all lands save for Britain and parts of Europe now being part of a Greater Britain, and Australia, known as The Colony (yes, some slight historical references here). There's no Mars this time round, as the story gets set strictly on Earth, involving a carnival styled train service that commutes between the two territories, having to pass adjacent to the Earth's core, for some nifty CG effects involving gravitational force reversal.
CG seemed to be what Director Len Wiseman ordered for the film, with green screen effects and CG laden landscapes peppering the entire movie, that makes you wonder about the tagline "What is real?" indeed. It's big on action sequences and slight on actual story, with pauses only to allow the film to breathe a little, before embarking on yet another stunt sequence that involves plenty of running for Douglas Quaid, and his new found love interest / revolutionary partner Melina (Jessica Biel), as they escape from rooftops to elevators, pass through deadly three dimensional elevator shafts and tunnels, fighting their way past synthetic troopers ala Star Wars. It does get pretty generic after a while, that these sequences all start to look very much the same, and probably a Star Wars: Clone Wars episode gone wrong.
Also for the tagline of "What is real?", this remake doesn't really keep you in suspense in a what is, and what is not thought, because for this new generation of audiences, Len Wiseman probably considered it best if everything was spoonfed. So there's no need to guess, and everything got explained verbatim, that you'd know whether it's real, otherwise, and just about every plot and character twist being laid out for all and sundry. Between the two female leads, Kate Beckinsale got more screen time for obvious reasons, though it's not everyday that we get to see her in a negative role. It's clearly expanded here, with her Melina being something of an amalgam of the roles played by Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside as the relentless pursuer of Douglas Quaid, adamant in hunting him down and finishing him off, against orders.
Ultimately, Total Recall 2012 is one big amusement park ride. This will probably be enjoyable for anyone in for an average CG action adventure extravaganza and have no knowledge of the fun blockbuster the first one was, but for the rest of us who have seen Paul Verhoeven's version, this one definitely pales in comparison, in story, action and just plain fun. And Arnold Schwarzenegger was in his prime then, with big shoes that didn't get filled this time round.
I was completely exhausted after seeing this film. If you like chase scenes and a lot of action, then this is the film for you. I think that people who have seen the original Schwarzenegger version will not be too thrilled with this film, me included. In the original film there were more mind games while this film is diluted with action sequences. I am not saying that the action parts were not good, there was just too many of them. I have to say that the futuristic look of the United Federation of Britain and The Colony (Australia) was pretty cool; although there were times that I thought that I was watching a video game. Also, the concept that you could travel between the two locations (which are on opposite sides of the earth) in roughly 17 minutes in a tube called "The Fall" was utterly ridiculous. I can't even imagine how fast that thing would have to travel to do what it does. Colin Farrell (Douglas Quaid/Hauser) was not all that engaging. This is not necessarily his fault because the dialog was pretty bland and boring. By the end of the film I really did not care what happened to him, I just wanted it to be over. Kate Beckinsale (Lori Quaid) and Jessica Biel (Melina) were formidable as two butt-kicking adversaries, although I have to say that Kate's character kind of reminded me of the female terminator. She was relentless in trying to track down Hauser. I am always happy to see a woman cast as a tough, larger than life super human. Bokeem Woodbine (Harry) was convincing enough as the best friend, but his dialog was no better than Colin's. I do not think that the film was all bad, but about an hour or so into the film I was wishing that I was back at ReKall. You are definitely going to need an energy drink after you watch this one because you will not be energized after seeing it; you will be worn out. Len Wiseman was definitely not a wise man for trying to redo this film. He should stick with the Underworld series and call it a day. This film really makes me long for Mars and the cheesy special effects in the original. I am giving this film a very weak amber light only because the action scenes were so well done.
Well, reviewing this movie can be quite difficult... How am I supposed
to evaluate it? As a stand-alone movie or as a remake? Because if you
are not falling from, um, Mars you probably know this is a remake of
one of the best Arnold Schwarzenegger movies ever...
Hmm... Let's see. How about starting with its' critical acclamation? I guess you can easily see the movie's rating on Rotten Tomatoes. If not, I recommend seeing it if you want a good laugh. 30%. That is it. Needless to say, any sane person would be shocked. Not because the movie is too good for that rating. You don't need to like the movie... You don't even need to have seen it to know something is very, very wrong here... I mean, 'Die Hard 4.0' has 81%... How the hell can the next movie created by the same writer/director have almost three times lower rating? I know, writers/directors don't always make movies of equal quality but the quality NEVER fluctuates that much. A little research about RT helped me realize a few things.
First, critics tend to give sequels of beloved franchises high ratings - of all movies of that kind that I checked only one - 'Die Hard 3' - had less than 65%. Everything else - even the abysmal 'Attack of the Clones' - was rated as "Fresh".
Second, critics tend to have a certain bias against sci-fi, fantasy and horror if they are not directed by a supposedly great name like Ridley Scott or Nolan. 'Willow' - a fantasy genre icon - has 49%. Go figure.
Third, Rotten Tomatoes is not even a good representative of critics' opinion... I mean, does anybody believe the critics considered the last Indiana Jones movie better than 'Forrest Gump'? Check their awards and you will see. And yet.. Go and see. So much for RT being a good source...
I wasted your time with this but it just had to be told. Now, about the movie itself. Well, it IS good. It has its' shortcomings, mainly in the writing department, but it stands on its' own.
As a stand alone movie... Well, after 'Prometheus' disappointed everyone, TR2012 is probably the best sci-fi movie of the year. It has a great story, great chemistry between the actors and the writing is at least acceptable although sometimes flawed. The acting was good from all actors. The only slight disappointment comes from Bill Nighy - he delivered a fine performance but he looked like he spent no more than an hour on the movie set. However his character, although important, has no more than 10 minutes of screen time so... Action-wise this movie is EXACTLY what 'Die Hard 4.0' was - relatively bloodless, wonderfully captured and complicatedly choreographed. Smooth camera movement, NO shaky cam, extremely long cuts - look at the first fight in the trailer and you will get it. And, believe me, the action looks better than that on the big screen. What is also worth mentioning is the fact that the movie feels more real than most sci-fi blockbusters recently, mostly because the use of CGI and green screens is as minimal as possible. I don't know why so many people think it is loaded with CGI. It isn't, trust me.
Overall, as a stand alone movie the new 'Total Recall' works, and it works well.
As a remake... Well, it did keep the basic story but that is it. Verhoeven's humor is gone. The blood is gone. The gore is gone. Mars is gone. Mutants are gone. Richter is gone. Arnold and his one-liners are gone. Although the story is basically the same, the new movie is completely different from the original. There are a few nods to the 1990 movie but that is it. This is a new movie.
If you want to see the old one, see it. It is great. If you haven't seen it you will love it. If you already have seen it... you will love it again.
The new movie is different. If you see it with an open mind you will probably like it at least a bit. Give it a chance. It is a good movie and a great entertainment.
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