What is Total Recall? :: There is always a powerful tendency for remakes in Hollywood, and 2012 had some of the big remakes or reboots in the form of Dredd, The Amazing Spider-Man, John Carter and this one. This year we have Evil Dead, Carrie and Oldboy, while next year has Robocop and The Crow. There are many others which I have missed and more which I might miss. But one of the movie which I didn’t want to miss last year was Total Recall, a remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger starrer movie of the same name, one of my all-time favourites indeed. Then about this 1966 short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick on which the movie is based, I don’t know much. What I know is that the 1990 version of movie was far superior to most of the movies of the age, and great innovative science fiction stuff. The Terminator and Predator are the two famous Schwarzenegger movies and two of the most popular science fiction stories, but Total Recall is in many ways one of its kind. With this remake, where does it’s popularity stand?
The Setting :: The story goes to the end of the century when the Earth is mostly destroyed after a series of battles involving chemical and biological warfare and a possible nuclear attack on each other. What is left fit for supporting life is divided into the United Federation of Britain (UFB) and the Colony (Australia) connected by a gravity elevator which travels through the Earth forming the only connection between the two as the rest of the world remains not fit for traffic and this is one of the fastest means. Many residents of the Colony who are poor, travels to UFB for jobs, as their status as well as wealth depends on the same. The people of the Colony are forced into submission by the UFB as they are inferior in technology and lacks in money as well as an army. There is a consistent assertion of such control claiming that the Colony is home to terrorists. The colony inhabitants live in bad conditions compared to the superior world of UFB.
What is it about? :: Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a colony worker married to a beautiful young lady Lori (Kate Beckinsale), but he occasionally dreams about another woman, who would later identified in the movie as Melina (Jessica Biel). But the problem is that he doesn’t know that girl and doesn’t even remember seeing her once. But he is plagued by the dreams which seems to be part of an adventure. One day, he and his best friend Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) visits a facility called Rekall which is a virtual entertainment firm which implants artificial memories in the head of willing people for a price. One can choose to be a secret agent, ruler of an area, lover of many sexiest women alive, a super spy, the richest man on the planet, husband to the most beautiful woman ever known, the strongest man in the whole universe and so on. He asks the salesman, Bob McClane (John Cho) for memories of a secret agent, but it is identified that he already has artificial memories – then police comes in and starts hunting him identifying him as a rebel who is enslaved with false memories, and even his wife joins the hunt.
The defence of Total Recall :: Even as most of the people would not like it as there is no justice done to the original, this movie is still a very good watch. This will not be a classic, but it has great action sequences and very good design and CGI. The world is well detailed and when Kate Beckinsale is around one can rarely feel that there will be a shortage of action sequences. This is from the director the Underworld series – the husband of Kate Beckinsale; when they join forces, the husband-wife team comes up with some of the best action movies, even as there might not be good critical opinion. Doesn’t it remind one of Mila Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson with the Resident Evil series and The Three Musketeers? There are new additions to this movie, and some of them do keep us interested. The gravity elevator and the action around it are brilliant, and there are some good, and the stylish new gadgets and a wonderful creation of two worlds on Earth, along with its quick pace that makes it never boring makes this one worthy for defense.
The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t make the originial sci-fi classic feel any better. There are no memorable dialogues and has less funny side to it. The movie is also often predictable, and the change of location from Mars to the Colony might not impress a few. Its characters also doesn’t create more of a human effect, as they often move on like robots given a mission. The question would arise if this movie was needed, and one can say that if a movie is remade and can’t match the original or falls behind by quite a distance, there is no need to go for a remake. If this was something new, or they had tried a new science fiction story with a similar theme, it would have worked better. But for now, the fans of the original can only like this in a limited manner, even when there is not that many things which are wrong with this one. There have been talks about a possible sequel, and it can do this movie a lot of good if done properly.
Performers of the Soul :: Colin Farrell does a very good role as the protagonist without memory, with memory, with hidden memory and with an extra dose of memory. Does that make him Arnold Schwarzenegger? Not at all, and there comes tragic fall, but we can’t really blame him for that when he has done his part well – blame the comparisons instead. Kate Beckinsale is simply awesome – from being the lovely wife to the killing machine; she might seem to have the Underworld syndrome, but she is beyond comparison in such roles. Even as Mila Jovovich and Sienna Guillory from Resident Evil got enough sequences to object, there is nobody like Kate in an action role. Once again she makes her entrance in a black costume, a bit less tight compared to what Selene had in the Underworld series, and chases our hero and his girl as if her life depended on it – an out of control psychotic beauty indeed! Her desperation is powerful as well as funny at times, and her dialogues and action keeps the pace high. Jessica Biel pales in comparison, but her beautiful and pretty much cute presence is of pure joy, and her emotional sequences score rather than the fights.
How it finishes :: The biggest change in the storyline should be about the divisions being of UFB and Colony rather than of Earth and Mars. But what might have affected this movie more than anything else would be the absence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, just like Terminator: Salvation struggled, for it was not a bad movie either. We can do without Mars, but not without the legendary action hero, most of them would say. Even as Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel does better than the characters who did the roles in the original, and Colin Farrell’s performance is strong enough, there is no matching the powerful screen presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger. But who can step into the shoes of the man? The remake of Conan the Barbarian seemed to give the impression that there is none. I would not consider the flaws mentioned by the critics as big negatives though, and this movie, even as it is not that much of a great remake of the original like Dredd, this has enough inside which could have made people run to the theatres – I know the box-office collection might not seem enough for a movie like this, but the same happened with John Carter and it is just fate.
Release date: 3rd August 2012
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Len Wiseman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, Bill Nighy, Steve Byers
@ Cemetery Watch
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