Total Recall ~ Total Remake
I purchased the Total Recall remake this past week and today I would like to review it. The comparisons between the remake and the 1990 original are inevitable so I will be comparing the two. As I said last week this movie bombed at the box office and was ripped apart by critics. Despite all of that I really did end up liking this movie! It depicts a very dystopian future and I usually do not like that type of movie, but in this case the dystopian future really isn’t dwelled on and serves more as a backdrop to the story. Not a complete backdrop to the story because the oppression of part of the population does feature into the tale that is being told.
Everyman, Doug Quaid, travels from the Colony (formally Australia) to the United Federation of Britain via “The Fall” a gravity based elevator which travels through the center of the earth. These two places are the only habitibal sections of earth that remains after the years of chemical warfare has left the rest of the plant inhospitable to human life. Although Quaid, (played by Colin Farrell) has a lovely wife (played by Kate Beckinsale) he is tired of his menial job and goes seeking out Rekall a place where you can have more pleasant memories implanted into your brain. As he is going through the procedure the technician (played by John Cho) claims that Quaid has not been honest and that his brain patterns show that he is in fact a spy. Suddenly, troops move in and Quiad quickly kills them all. He runs home all distraught and when he tries to explain to his wife what has happened she tries to kill him because she too is a spy and their marriage is just an implanted memory. The remainder of the movie is a non-stop roller coaster ride as Quiad tries to find out who he is. Is he just a laborer having an adventure that was implanted or is he a double agent that is either working for Cohaagen, the corrupt and ruthless Chancellor of the United Federation of Britain, or for Matthias Lair, the leader of the Resistance?
Pros: Some of the positive aspects I see are what the critics complained about. I do see their point though. Their complaint is that aspects of the film are derivative of other movies. The entire look of the film, the sets, the costumes and cities depicted in the film look like they are taken straight from Blade Runner. The robotic troops seem as if they are from Star Wars and I Robot. The floating cars look like they are from I Robot and Minority Report. As I said, I can see their point but it doesn’t bother me or detract from my enjoyment of the film. The film is visually stunning and this world the movie makers have created really adds to the story and the sense of despair the people feel.
The movie also plays homage to the 1990 original which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. Some scenes are similar and we have the three breasted prostitute as well as a lady who arrives at the United Federation of Britain for “two weeks” and is dressed similarly as in the 1990 film. The action scenes are great and full of suspense. I think all of the actors, Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Beil perform very well. In the 1990 version you knew Arnold was a larger than life person and his character could kick some ass. With Colin Farrell as just an average Joe, the premise of the movie seems much easier to take. Is he a double agent or is he having a bad experience with a memory implant gone wrong? Kate Beckinsale really eats up the scenes she is in and stands out for me in the movie.
I also want to add that I was at first disappointed that Mars was not going to be featured in this film. Upon viewing the movie I learned that Mars was not essential to the story and I ended up not missing it.
Cons: This movie is not as fun as the 1990 original. Arnold really had some great one liners in that movie and this one is pretty devoid of humor. The closest we get to some humor are some of the wise cracks from Kate Beckinsale’s character. Another thing that was a con for me was the inclusion of the three breasted prostitute. Mars and its mutants are nowhere to be found in this movie so the three breasted prostitute seems very out-of-place in this movie. It is like she doesn’t belong there.
One criticism I want to mention is one I have mixed feeling about. The original movie, and short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, are very ambiguous about whether or not this adventure is really happening to Quaid or is it just in his mind? This film seems to play down that ambiguity. Although the character may wonder if this is real or just a dream, it seems to the audience that it is really happening. I think that making the movie a little more ambiguous in that light would have improved the film.
Conclusion: I do like the movie and it is an enjoyable take on a creative story. I am glad we have two versions to enjoy.