Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Total Recall (2012) - 2 stars

This is a remake of the 1990 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Both movies were based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, and like with so many of his adaptations, both movies were very different from the original story. 

Now I admit, I haven't read any of his books or short stories, so I don't know how well a faithful adaptation would work.  But I think if you're going to remake a movie that was changed so much from its source material, you should adapt the book rather than remake the previous movie.  That's what the Cohen brothers did with True Grit.

This time, Colin Farrell plays Douglas Quaid, an ordinary guy who goes to Rekall to have the memory of a vacation implanted into his brain.  But something goes terribly wrong, and soon everyone is trying to kill him.  His wife (played by Sharon Stone in the original), is played by Kate Beckinsale.  She also takes over the role of the agent who is trying to capture Quaid.  In the original, this role was played wonderfully by Michael Ironside.

The world they live in is run by the corrupt Chancellor Cohaagen played by Bryan Cranston (Ronny Cox in the original), and Quaid worked for him before he had his mind erased. 

The biggest problem with this movie is that the original was so great, and this is so mediocre.  I know some people will argue that the Schwarzenegger movie was not so great, and I'm just remembering it fondly because I was younger when it came out.  Well, that may be true to some extent, but I would argue that the original was a great movie.  It was a lot of fun.  The effects while dated by today's standards still hold up.  The hologram watch he wore was cool, and I loved the x-ray security scanners that sounded an alarm if anyone went thru with a gun. 

Schwarzenegger gave a great performance as a guy who is confused.  People often overlook what a good actor he could be, and in this movie I had real empathy for his character.  Plus Michael Ironside was such a great villain, and Kate Beckinsale is no Michael Ironside.

This movie is just not much fun.  There is no humor, and I didn't enjoy one second of it.  There was some cool action, but after a few minutes it just turned into white noise.  I don't care how cool the flying cars are, at some point I want the action to stop and the characters have a conversation with each other that doesn't just further the plot.

Since there is no way I can review this without comparing it to the original, I will point out a few more things.  For one, the 3 breasted hooker is in this movie, but she doesn't belong.  In the original, there were mutants.  It came from living on Mars and breathing dirty air (or something like that).  In this movie, there are no mutants.  So when a girl opens her shirt to reveal 3 breasts, it makes no sense.  It's only there because the filmmakers know fans of the original want to see it.

Also, there is a great scene in the original when the head of Rekall shows up on Mars to talk Quaid out of his delusion.  He tells Quaid that he is still strapped to the chair in Rekall, and they can't bring him out of it.  If he will just take this pill as a sign of his desire to return to reality, they can bring him out.  When Quaid sees a drop of sweat rolling down the guy's cheek, he shoots him in the head.

This scene is kind of revisited in this new movie, but it doesn't work at all.  It has none of the suspense, and Jessica Biel is in the scene with him.

Oh, I forgot to mention Jessica Biel.  She plays the role of Molina, the girl of his dreams who is a member of the resistance.

Anyway, when Quaid's friend says he is still in the chair at Rekall, Molina is standing there with a gun.  All she has to do is shoot the guy, but she waits to see if Quaid will kill her or not.  This scene doesn't really make sense.  It ruins the effect to have Molina there.  She could act instead of just standing there saying "Don't believe him." 

This movie isn't horrible, but it isn't necessary.  If you choose to see it, you need to watch the original Schwarzenegger version after to compare the two.  And I think you will see that I'm right.

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