Total Recall

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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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Epic

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Epic is said to be based on William Joyce’s book for children, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. It is produced by Blue Sky Studios, the makers of the Ice Age series, Robots, Horton Hears a Who! and Rio. It is directed by Chris Wedge who was the director of Ice Age and Robots. The movie shows the battle in the woods between the forces of good and evil, to know if life or decay, whichever overcomes the other. The most interesting thing is that as their world is saved, ours is saved too. As the will premiere in the United States only on May 24th 2013, we know that this has come here early. It should be because it might collide with Fast & Furious 6 otherwise, but there is also another thing about it. It is not of logic, but of impulse, that is the pollution of the natural environment which is a serious challenge in this part of the world. Remember these lines from The Matrix – they are not to be forgotten as the movie ends; “Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with their surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we are the cure”. The truth in these words are not to be considered unseen before we move into this movie.

When Epic begins, we understand that there is a battle between good and evil, life and decay, green woods and the dark woods, the right and wrong going on in the forest. The two sides are always inter-locked in a never-ending battle for supremacy, one for keeping the balance of nature and the other to extend their borders and make their side weigh more. But they exist invisible to the normal human eye. The forest world is actually preparing for a great moment, the selection of the successor to the queen of the woods, which is looked at with anger and hatred by the forces of evil who wishes or a dark prince instead, who can change the green woods into dark woods, with darkness all around. In the middle of all these, young girl named Mary Katherine (preferring to be called M.K), visits her father Professor Bomba who lives in an old house near some thick woods with his dog, Ozzie and never ending hope of finding a group of little elf-like warriors who live in the woods and protect their world as well as that of humans as the guardians of the good – represented by leaves. He has cameras set everywhere in the woods and also wanders around a lot, hoping to find them some day. It is evident that it has been a long time since he had any contact with the outside world. He is too busy with his job and neglects his daughter just like he had done to his wife years earlier, leading to Mary putting a note for him to see and leaving the place as she feels she will never get her father back to normal life.

As she is leaving, Ozzie finds a chance to go out of the monotonous world which is the house, and runs into the woods. Mary goes into the woods to look out for him, but as she catches one of the glowing leaves which seemed to fall from the sky, she suddenly shrinks in size. Then she discovers the group of warriors her father was looking out for, and find them as the Leafmen. To her surprise, she is soon forced to assist them in a war against the forces of evil known as the Boggans and their powerful leader Mandrake, along with trying to find a way to become big again as well as to return home. The situation is such that the queen of the woods has been murdered and to find the successor who planned by her before death, Mary and her friends, who include a slug, a snail, and two leafmen – one being the leader of the leafmen and the other being the aggressive and arrogant rookie, have to see the keeper of the scrolls, and with his advice, go on to find the new queen from among the flowers and leaves of the woods. But Mandrake is filled with anger and vengeance due to the death of his son by the leaf-men commander Ronin, and would stop at nothing other than a forest without life. He has already transformed a good part of the woods into his world of death and decay. The team has to fight an almost impossible battle in an enchanted world which seems to belong to the dark forces now.

The movie is a journey, just like The Croods, just four minutes longer and surely intellectually superior, still trailing in the 3D effects and the funny side. But emotionally, this one is as strong as the Colossus. Its social message of saving the trees and forest works for sure. This also another Alice in Wonderland, as the girl is thrown into another mysterious world, a land of magic; but this time, it is too connected with the external world. In that case, Arthur and the Minimoys a.k.a Arthur and the Invisibles might come into the picture in pictures of connected worlds, one a miniature place and the other, what we all live in. It is quite surprising that it was a movie which didn’t get that much an attention here. But, we know that little elf-like warriors, magical woods, fairy queens and a young girl or boy changing fate and destiny of two worlds are not exactly new concepts and with the high predictability might be a little let down. A background story on the good and evil might have given a little more support in the matter, but the two sides have already been painted black and white, evil and good; as this is more a fairy tale thing, there will be no questions asked either. But the world we live in has turned into more of the world of the grey, which is slightly more interested in evil, and it could affect the progress of this movie.

The alignment here is too obvious, unlike Age of Wonders, the game in which I first realized the importance of being aligned more or less to one side or being equi-distant from all. Highmen and Archons were pure good out there, Dwarves, Elves, Halflings and Syrons were good, Frostlings, Humans, Azracs, Lizardmen, Draconians, Tigrans and Nomads were the neutral ones, evil had Orcs, Goblins, Dark Elves and Shadow Demons and those of pure evil were called the Undead. Such was the division in that game series, and what we see is more of pure good and pure evil in this movie, and there is no further division. All these fairy tale characters seem to be good enough to make a powerful comeback these days, as the animated movies seems to be working better than the live-action usual thing, even as it is limited to Hollywood. Our movie here is strong enough to pave the way for the next animated ones which are to come, but there are times when some of these supposed to be pure good characters do nothing good; they can’t even preach well enough – at least that might have been expected of them. But the lost fun is recaptured by the main characters who make up for the less important ones. The 3D looks a little unnecessary, and here it was just another reason to take twenty five Rupees extra and increase the total time spent in the theatre.

Well, who doesn’t like a fairy tale though? One has to think that the kids would surely love it, even as the new generation has moved more to the video games and other stuff than books. Still, understanding them as movies is just a bonus for them. Here, the punch is solid and striking deep enough both on the brain and the heart. Its loyality to the genre can never be questioned, but a certain signs of evolution in the fantasy world is not to be ignored at any moment. Despite its loss in the 3D, it still has great visuals and wonderful CGI. The fairy tale of the girl who becomes lost in the forest and shortened by magic, uncovers a mysterious world of little people with its base on the enchanted woods. But other than being another Alice in a different wonderland of inferior quality, considering the way in which the movie progresses, supported by its stunning imagery & the “save environment” message, this becomes much better. It is surely going to appeal not only to kids, but also the adults. This is kind of a vacation season around, and this summer, this might be the right movie to watch as a family. Well, the woods grow over many years, but can be destroyed in a day – a message to the future generation. As the leafman says “We are individuals, but we are all connected”. There is a message for our selfish world; the world of humans who interrupt and cause devastation on nature. FernGully: The Last Rainforest might have already taught a few lessons though, and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax surely succeeded in inspiring more than one person.

We have the major issues with water pollution, mostly due to untreated and illegal sewage disposal; we have another big issue as air pollution with vehicle emission and traffic congestion, and not to forget the disposal of garbage on land. The disasters should be much more than these, and the deterioration of the environment the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife, something which starts basically from deforestation. There is no solution to greed for sure, and Agent Smith was partially right, and we are still trying to prove him completely correct. Well, that dialogue was a point when he had the sure upperhand in a world of reason. Extinction is not a limited thing for sure. Looking into Avatar, there is one particular dialogue “There’s no green there. They killed their Mother, and they’re gonna do the same here”. It doesn’t imply anything other than the destruction of the world of green by using their so called advanced technology. As most of the new discoveries have made life easier for man, they have surely made decay easier for nature. This predicament has another nemesis in Epic, as the movie comes against it strongly; it might be a little ordinary and quite predictable in its plot, but is still an inspiring story with a powerful message against the exploitation of nature and deforestation. There is the need for such movies with strong environmental theme.

Release date: 17th May 2013
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Chris Wedge
Starring (voice): Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.