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Total Recall (2012) (DVD)
Member Name: Jojoborne
Total Recall (2012) (DVD)
Advantages: Not many over the original.
Disadvantages: Not as good as the original and rather cold and bland.
Many of you will, and no pun intended, recall the original version of this movie that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role. It was loosely based on science-fiction writer Philip K Dick's 'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale' and the remake, or shall we say reboot, is loosely based on them both.
The movie went into production in May 2011 and finished in September that same year. Not a lengthy filming process for a movie of this blockbuster potential but, then again, most of the editing was concerning special effects and all the acting scenes were cut rather quickly. This may be down to the fact that the cast are all experienced actors and judging by their on-screen rapport they did not have many problems while filming; if they did then they apparently sorted them out with relative ease; at least that is the impression given with the short space of time it took to wrap this one up.
The movie hit cinema screens in the United States on August 12th 2012 and was distributed by Columbia Pictures World-wide over the next month. Costing one hundred and twenty-five million dollars to make it was a run of the mill earner considering its gross of one hundred and eighty million dollars and was panned by many critics as not delivering what was promised.
At the end of the 21st century, the earth has been devastated by a third World war and nuclear and chemical weapons have destroyed most of the civilised population. What remains is two sectors; namely 'The Colony' and 'The United federation of Britain'. The UFB is naturally situated where Britain is on the map and Australia is now known as the Colony. The Colony is not faring too well and many of its people travel to the UFB to work in order to survive. People travel between the two sectors in a tunnel known as 'The Fall' which runs through the earth. It is a huge elevator which travels at immense speed. G-force is negated and gravity is controlled in the elevator and passengers experience weightlessness at the end of each sector.
Douglas Quaid is a factory worker and while on a trip in the fall, he tells a friend that he is thinking of visiting 'Rekall', a company that can implant memories into your brain. He is dissatisfied with his life but his friend tells him it is not a good idea as he has heard bad rumours about Rekall. Quaid visits Rekall and they explain to him that he can have any memory he wants; a successful athlete, a romance, a secret agent or anything he can possibly think of. They also explain that he must undergo a test to check his mind for existing memories as they can't implant a memory that is similar to one that already exists in case they conflict and damage Quaids mind.
Quaid agrees to a secret agent implant and also agrees to undergo the test. Halfway through the test the lead technician, McClane, pulls the wires from Quaid and tells him that he has lied to him and that Quaid is a spy. All hell breaks loose and McClane and his workers are shot by a UFB Swat team and government synthetic soldiers. Quaid escapes and makes it back home to find his wife, Lori (Kate Beckinsale) watching the events at Rekall unfold on the news. Quaid tells her that he is the one that killed the Swat team and she reveals that she is not his wife. Quaid believes that he has been married to her for seven years but she explains that she is a UFB agent and he has been implanted with false memories while being monitored by her for six weeks. A titanic fight ensues and Quaid goes on the run, pursued by a woman he thought and still feels that he loves.
Quaid learns that he has connections to a resistance that works out of UFB to try and improve the Colony. He has always viewed the resistance as terrorists and cannot believe that he would be involved with the group. After learning of his true identity and meeting Melina (Jessica Biel), Quaid is took to meet Mathias (Bill Nighy), the leader of the resistance and he learns of a plot to take over the existing human world by mass producing synthetic robots that is being put into plan by the leader of the UFB, a man named Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston). Cohaagen convinces Mathias and Quaid that Quaid has been secretly working for him against the resistance as a double agent.
Quaid has to decide not only who he really is but whose side he is really on in a race against time to do what he feels is the right thing to do to either save mankind or doom them; but will he make not only the right decision, but make it on time?
After watching the movie and looking back at it now I must say that I am a little disappointed. For all its excellent effects and beautiful cinematography it lacked the 'wow' factor. It seems that I am stuck in a mini viewing trend of those sorts of movies at the minute. The original may have been over-looked as a serious commodity in moviedom due to the fact that Schwarzenegger played the lead and is well known for his explosive action movies rather than his thespian credentials, but that said, the original had a stronger plot and less political undertones. A lot of people will disagree that the original had a stronger plot but I mean as a whole package. It did not take itself as seriously as the remake does and I think that that worked a lot better overall.
The movie in its essence looks great and Paul Cameron did a great job as cinematographer. When Farrel is running through the masses in the area which he resides the place has a rusty feel to it and a golden tint tinges every building, lit up by sun-like, artificial, coruscating rays. It gives the movie a nice feel and the set looks convincing. This is partly due to the filming technique and the use of Red Epic Digital cameras and the use of anamorphic lenses. The whole movie looks tidy as a spectacle even taking into account that most of it is shot in a world gone to wrack and ruin.
The special effects are amazing and none of them look out of place. From a writing point of view I would have liked to have seen something a little more technical than a standard umbrella being used when it rained, especially as we are viewing the latter part of the twentieth century. Maybe some things will always stay the same.
It was rumoured pre-production that Michael Fassbender was in contention for the role and I for one would have liked to have seen him take it on. However, Colin Farrel had long been the top target to play the lead role and they essentially got their man. Farrel does a good job as Quaid/Hauser but I just wanted to feel like I knew him a little better. I found that I couldn't really empathise with him. That is more likely to be due to the fact that his character didn't know who he was most of the time rather than any inadequacy in Farrel's acting ability. For the most part he fits into the role well and doesn't try to over-play it as a lot of action actors would have. His scenes with Jessica Biel are believable and his fight scenes with Beckinsale must have left the two actors with a few bruises when the clapboard eventually came down on a take. I think he portrayed Douglas Quaid well but was bogged down by an overly political plot. I do like Farrel as an actor overall and can even put aside the cringe-worthy time he asked a female reporter if she 'Got a buzz' of his fresh minty breath in favour of his obvious talent as a thespian.
Kate Beckinsale plays Lori well and I was pleased that the obligatory sex scene between her character and Farrel's was left out of the movie. This may be because she wasn't really his wife but a government agent but I for one am glad that we weren't shown a sex scene just to satisfy Farrel or Beckinsale's fans or to indeed purely glam-up the movie.
Jessica Biel plays a fellow member of the resistance and Quaids love interest in the movie and I thought she played it well. She has a subtle approach to the role and comes across as a very capable actress.
In 2010, a year before the movie went into production, Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed his interest in once again taking up the role of Quaid but Miramax had already got Farrel on top of their list.
There are some similarities between the two movies in that the names of Quaid and Melina are the same, yet funnily enough the characters names were different in Philip K Dick's short story. The original movie used Mars as the second sector to the UFB instead of the Colony. The writers Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback had toyed with the idea and when James Vanderbilt came on board to help finish the script they all decided that having the two sectors on earth would allow the story to flow more and make it more believable. I personally think this works better as it makes the story more central to earth and cuts out all the problems that come with having to explain space travel and how the fall would've worked between planets. A lot of anoraks tore holes in the original movies plot and by staying on earth the writers of the new movie were also playing safe.
Another play-safe element of the movie was the special effects. Although they really are terrific there is just something about CGI that doesn't seem as impressive as the old make-up effects. In the original the make-up artists made exploding heads and you could see the work that had gone into it. And I am in no way dumbing down CGI as it is an incredible skill and extremely arduous work but I am just a fan of old school effects.
I will say here that I was more emotionally involved in the original movie and it also had a few humorous moments that helped lighten the load somewhat. The new movie is almost too serious and although I really enjoyed it I was still feeling like I had left something behind after the end credits. The first hour is really well put together and the story is involving but then it all seems to fall apart into a mish-mash of action scenes and a final scene that could be compared to numerous science-fiction movies. I felt that I wanted more out of the experience and the movie failed to give me that feeling. I wanted to feel liberated and actually have a smile on my face at the end but sadly I felt a little depressed by it all and as beautiful as it looked it ended up being a rather drab affair. It is emotionally bereft of feeling and does not contain the shameless fun of the original movie. Fans of this movie will argue that Farrel was better than Arnie and admittedly Farrel's acting is better but then we already knew that. Farrel's acting may have been better but Arnie wins on charisma and likability hands down. Arnie's one-liners were part of what made the original so scrumptiously delightful and the fact that Farrel doesn't utter one remotely funny one-liner speaks volumes of the gulf between the two different performances and their dynamics. I simply wanted Arnie to achieve his goal in the original movie; by the end of the remake I couldn't really be bothered whether Farrel succeeded or not.
Summary: A remake of a cult classic.