Feb 4, 2013

[Movies] Total Recall (2012)

I won't go as far as saying that the 1990 version of Total Recall was one of my favorite movies, but it was definitely one of the more memorable ones. In itself it was a loose adaptation of the Philip K. Dick story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale", it was a nice bit of science fiction presented in a manner that was generally accessible to people - well, as accessible as any other Arnold Schwazenegger movie.

As always the news of a remake had me rather disappointed since Total Recall wasn't exactly a movie that was calling out for reinventing. And thus we can't get away from the notion that the decision to create this movie was not because of fan support but more out of some studio executive being lazy and figuring that it'll always be cheaper to remake something than to come up with an original story.

But what becomes more annoying is the fact that they did actually write a rather different story this time around versus the prior movie and the original short story. And I don't think we'll ever understand why the heck they opted to do this.

Synopsis: Total Recall is the 2012 remake of the 1990 science fiction movie of the same name, both of which were loosely based on the aforementioned Philip K. Dick short story.

The movie is set in fairly darker view of the future where there are only two major population centers on Earth that are habitable - the United Federation of Britain and and the Colony, which is roughly Australia. The two locations are joined by a massive train that goes through the center of the Earth, more commonly referred to as The Fall.

Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) lives a decently happy life as a factory worker. He is married to the lovely Lori (Kate Beckinsale) and makes an honest living. Things start to shift when he decides to visit Rekall - a company that promises fabulous vacations in the form of implanted memories. He is convinced into getting a memory package that places him in the shoes of a secret agent. However during the implantation, it is discovered that he was in fact a secret agent in deep cover and thus Rekall shouldn't be used. But before they can resolve this little conundrum, the Rekall branch is attacked by a police SWAT team.

I think the item that makes me feel the worst about this movie is the fact that Mars was completely removed from the equation. It's an element that was pretty iconic for both the original short story and the movie and to have it pretty much excised from the story and replaced with this weird two-country system just doesn't make sense to me. Instead we get a very complicated world that didn't have to exist in the first place with the whole inter-continental train somehow a key element of the story.

Kate does not know what to do with a shirtless Farrell
Colin Farrell seems just about as lost as the rest of us viewers as he goes from scene to scene either fighting his way through hordes of robots leftover from I, Robot, or finding an excuse to walk around without a shirt. Sadly, he does a lot more fighting compared to shirtless wandering despite how much work he obviously put into bulking up. Oh well.

The movie does have some pretty fantastic fight scenes, and I'm not just talking about the one that we all saw over and over again in the trailer. A lot of effort was put into conceptualizing and choreographing those scenes and we have to given them credit there. I just wish that we didn't rely on Beckinsale to be in so many of them given she didn't really get to add much value. Spoilers aside, she makes for a rather lousy villain, quite frankly.

The movie seems uncertain as to what it wants to accomplish at different points throughout the movie. A lot of what made the original Total Recall smart and refreshing was replaced with a lot of needless CGI, Colin Farrell pouting and of course the obligatory scenes of the magical train that cuts through the planet. I mean seriously, that train was one of the weirder plot devices that I've encountered in a while. What was the point?!?

The 2012 remake of Total Recall was ultimately an unnecessary movie. I wish they had just made the story without trying to tie it back to the Recall franchise and let things go from there - it might have been a better experience. In the end, I can only give this movie 1.5 quirky dream sequences that are really memories or whatever out of a possible give. The half point is thanks to John Cho having a weird cameo as the Rekall scientist and the full point goes to shirtless Farrell walking around with little purpose and no shirt.

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