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Nordling Finds TOTAL RECALL Mostly Forgettable!

Nordling here.

I'm not generally against remakes.  If you've been following the new ROBOCOP, for example, I've been pretty excited and optimistic about what Jose Padilha is doing with that remake of Paul Verhoeven's classic film.  It feels like a new direction and a new take on the material, and if it fails, well, at least it will have tried to be its own thing while respecting the source.  With that cast and that director, I feel confident that while it could still turn out badly, that they still have the best intentions at heart and that they are trying something genuinely different than the original.  That's the risk you take.

Len Wiseman's TOTAL RECALL, however, does not feel like it comes from a place of genuine risk.  It feels safe, paint-by-numbers, and ultimately it calls back too much to the original movie, both in plot and theme.  It desperately wants to be its own thing, but then it gives us a line or even a setpiece that recalls (pun intended) the original, and it does so with the obvious intent of reminding the audience of it.  Three-boobed hooker?  Check.  The hell-bitch "wife" operative?  Check.  The government establishment versus the resistance, with Quaid (Colin Farrell) unsure which side he's working on, due to his faulty memory?  It's all there.  There are even scenes that come straight out of the original movie, and while Farrell's a fine actor, he just isn't having the same amount of fun that Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger had in the original film.

That's the real problem with TOTAL RECALL - it just isn't much fun.  There are scenes in the original movie that are hokey and even silly, but Schwarzenegger and Verhoeven COMMIT to them, dammit, and even Arnold's "SCREW YOU!" works in that context.  The original TOTAL RECALL is not a serious movie - it's Schwarzenegger playing with his well-established tough guy image, Verhoeven doing his damnedest to top even the ultra-violence of ROBOCOP, and the screenwriters (ALIEN's Ronald Shusett and Dan O'Bannon) having fun with science fiction tropes while still paying homage to Philip K. Dick's short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale."  It's a mishmash of goofy scenery, crazy over-the-top acting and violence, and for some reason it works, even 22 years later.  TOTAL RECALL is funny, and yeah, a little dumb, but it's very self-aware despite all that.  TOTAL RECALL is fun because it looks like everyone involved is thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Len Wiseman's film, on the other hand, is too serious for its own good, and due to the changes in the story, feels much smaller than the original movie.  Verhoeven's film had Quaid saving a planet - here, he's simply fighting an evil government leader, Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), in yet another movie about the Haves versus the Have Nots.  In this future, due to chemical warfare, much of Earth is uninhabitable, except for much of Europe and Australia.  They are separated by the Fall, a pit that traverses the center of the earth and is the primary mode for transport for the world's work force.  Australia, now called the Colony, provides the world with cheap, underpaid labor, but if Cohaagen has his way, the Colony will be a further expansion of his territories, and the people there will suffer their fate.  In this future, the most valuable commodity is living space.  Only the Resistance, led by Matthias (Bill Nighy), stands in his way.

None of this means much to Quaid, a worker bee living on the Colony with his wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale).  He's simply a gearhead working from paycheck to paycheck, and he yearns for something more. Quaid feels like he simply wasn't meant for this life, and his dreams, of him being chased with a woman in tow, feel more real to him than his current life.  When Quaid goes to Rekall (where false memories can be implanted for recreation) to experience some new memories, suddenly he is thrust into a fight for his own mind - it turns out Quaid is really a sleeper agent named Hauser, and as Quaid tries to understand who he is, with the help of Melina (Jessica Biel), he is hunted down relentlessly by Cohaagen's robot troops and his special operative, Quaid's "wife" Lori.  If Quaid fails, the Colony will fall, but Quaid can't even be sure what side he's on.

The thing is, TOTAL RECALL has the goods when it comes to set design and special effects.  The world the filmmakers have created here is fantastic looking, save the very JJ Abrams inspired lens flares, and it really looks like they spared no expense.  It's well-acted, with Farrell doing solid work.  The real standout on the performance side is Kate Beckinsale, who seems to be having a lot of fun kicking Farrell's ass all over the planet.  Bryan Cranston's character is a fairly routine villain, and I'd say Ronny Cox's work in the role is more effective - he's just more slimy and yeah, a little hammy, but again, he commits to it.

There's nothing really wrong with TOTAL RECALL on the surface; it's what's missing that becomes apparent while watching it.  The humor. The admitted cheese factor of the original.  Yes, even Arnold Schwarzenegger, riffing on his image.  No Quato.  No Richter (Beckinsale seems to be playing both the parts of Sharon Stone as well as Michael Ironside).  You can say I'm being unfair in comparing the movie so much to the original, and in most cases, you'd be right.  But the film constantly invites comparison to the original film all the time, from scenes that come straight from the original movie (complete with lines of dialogue), and when it's not directly recalling (there's that pun again) the original in a scene, it gives us reminders scattered throughout the movie.  This is a remake that knows it's a remake, and so you can't help but compare the two.

I guess the biggest loss from the original is the humor.  This TOTAL RECALL takes itself very seriously, while the original wanted the audience to be in on the fun.  That's not to say there aren't funny moments in this TOTAL RECALL but more often than not those moments are just reminders of the original movie.  Len Wiseman knows how to direct an action sequence, but it's hard not to compare them not only to the original, but to other action films in general.  There's a futuristic car chase scene that reminded me a bit of MINORITY REPORT with a little FIFTH ELEMENT thrown in, and a few foot chase scenes that felt straight out of the Bourne movies.  It feels like there isn't an action sequence that wasn't inspired from other, better movies.  It's well shot, I'll give it that, but there's a BLADE RUNNER inspired look to everything that, again, reminds the audience of many other science fiction movies that simply did this sort of thing better.  If TOTAL RECALL were more fun and willing to break itself loose from its predecessor, it might have been a more worthwhile film.  Instead, TOTAL RECALL is muddled and bland.

A few words about the rating - the original movie, for the time, pushed the boundaries of violence onscreen.  Quaid used a human corpse as a bullet shield, arms were ripped off, eyes bulging out of skulls, and Verhoeven seemed to be having a lot of fun thumbing his nose at the establishment of the time in regards to film violence.  The PG-13 remake simply doesn't compare in that aspect.  However, I was bothered by the way the gunfights were used in Wiseman's movie.  I'm no prude when it comes to action movies.  I've seen them as violent as they get and I love shoot-'em-ups as much if not more than the next guy.  But we have an awful lot of gunfights in TOTAL RECALL (some of the fights are admittedly against robots but there are also people involved as well), with people getting shot in the head, and generally dying in all sorts of violent ways.  And yet, it's all so sanitized and bloodless.  

In a way, I find this more reprehensible than in Verhoeven's movie - at least in his movie, when someone got hit by a bullet, you saw the effect it had on the body.  When Schwarzenegger used that bullet-ridden corpse as a shield, that gunfight had real visceral impact.  Here it's cleaned up and stripped of all gore, and I can't help feeling that without the effects of gunplay being evident that it's a fairly irresponsible way to shoot a gunfight.  Should this TOTAL RECALL have been R rated?  I think so.  As it is, it makes the violence seem trivial, and considering the events from a couple of weeks ago, the consequence-free gunfighting bothered me.  Again, I got no problem with onscreen violence, but the violence here had no repercussions whatsoever.  Of course, the filmmakers had no idea that Aurora going to happen, but still, when someone gets shot in a movie, I don't think it should simply be "guy lays down and dies" either.  My two cents.

Nordling, out.  Follow me on Twitter!

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:26 p.m. CST

    Wrong Cox

    by Negator76

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:27 p.m. CST

    Ronny, not Brian

    by Negator76

    but First!

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:27 p.m. CST

    by Negator76

    Second and Third!

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:27 p.m. CST

    I agree...

    by Negator76

    No one cares about this movie. Fourth!

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:28 p.m. CST

    Were the 3 boobs in a bra? It being PG-13 and all.

    by JediRob

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:29 p.m. CST

    Rachel Ticotin and Sharon Stone > Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale

    by maxcherry

    Nobody can play a bitch like Sharon Stone, well except Bette Davis.

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:30 p.m. CST


    by Albert Herbert

    Looks like Colin Farrell might play the bitch after this film tanks...

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:32 p.m. CST

    If you really want to re-experience Totall Recall

    by Bass Ackwards

    Watch the movie with Schwarzenegger's ridiculously plain commentary. I'm pretty sure no one told him it was a commentary, but rather they needed him to describe the movie for the blind. *I continuously used him as a human shield then I threw him down the escalator.*

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:33 p.m. CST

    Colin Also wears the same damn shirt

    by boogy110

    That Schwarzenegger used in the original movie. But only Arnold can pull it off with his huge pectoral muscles!

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:34 p.m. CST

    Australian providing cheap, underpaid labor?

    by Albert Herbert

    WTF?!?! Australian businesses are laying off thousands of workers becuase they can get cheaper, underpaid labor from India. I don't think this film is a true story...

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:37 p.m. CST

    Brian Cox?

    by Aidil_Afham

    Is that a joke of the running joke? Is that a poke to Harry? Are you tryin to save his ass and make his excuse credible? Im thoroughly confused here, I can't even laugh. But yeah, I caught it last night (my girlfriend wanted to see Colin Farrel) It really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I agree with the review though, its watchable but not fun and I wouldn't remember it next week. The film pitched itself in trying to stay true to the books but thats just marketing bullshit, they're just remaking the original movie, but they left out the good parts. The overall aesthetics looks great though, love the overcrowded architecture but they stumbled abit again. Overly dominant asian culture? Check. Massive billboards with announcer advertising? Check. Constant rainy wet look? Check. Noodle shop? Steamy streets? Transparent Umbrellas? Check check check. Now where have I seen those before..

  • ...I'll go get some prime seats for TDKR IMAX for the third time. Oh and why no Mars? Maybe Mars would have been a way to inject some fun into this movie? Meh,who am I kidding it's Len Wiseman.

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:54 p.m. CST

    Nordling, have you seen "This Film is not yet Rated?"

    by sambafreak13

    One if the directors they interview (might have been Aronofsky, can't remember) speaks directly to your point about the santized violence. He points out that the MPAA will let you shoot as many people in the head as you want, so long as you show no gore. He cites some examples like the Pierce Brosnan Bond films where guys are getting blown away left and right, but there's no blood so it's PG-13. He basically argues they have it backwards, and that it's far more irresponsible to let kids see this violence-without-realism than to let them see, say, Saving Private Ryan which gives you a damn good sense of what being shot (or shooting someone) would actually look like. In the end he argues that the bloodlessly violent movies are the ones that should be rated R, since younger kids lack the maturity to understand how unrealistic what they're seeing really is.

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:54 p.m. CST

    Get ready for a surprise!

    by BiggusDickus

    ...This remake is crap. Actually, it's not much of a surprise really, is it?

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:55 p.m. CST


    by Mars

    This movie is like having a nail jammed into my urethra.

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:57 p.m. CST

    The year's most obvious, "Must-Miss"...

    by ThulsaBoom

    ...just sayin'.

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:58 p.m. CST

    I mean, come on...

    by BiggusDickus

    Get your ass to...erm...Australia!

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:59 p.m. CST

    I put quotation marks in, honest!

    by BiggusDickus

    It's just that the juvenile coding on this site doesn't appear to see them...

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 11:59 p.m. CST

    Not surprised

    by cowsaysmoo

    The trailers foreshadowed the blandness of this. Think I'll just buy the original on blu. I haven't seen it in a looooong time.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, midnight CST


    by Transhuman

    (headline prediction for Harry's next review)

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:02 a.m. CST


    by Transhuman

    Sorry, that award goes to BATTLESHIP

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:03 a.m. CST

    Total Pointless

    by quantize

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:06 a.m. CST

    Good review Nordling

    by skiprat1

    Thanks. It's what I expected pretty much. Sounds like instantly forgettable, beer Friday, everyone is in bed, what can I rent rubbish. I wish Colin Farrell could find more roles that work for him. Ondine was great, I loved Fright Night, and In Bruges, I wish more people had actually seen them.

  • The film pitched itself in trying to stay true to the books but thats just marketing bullshit, they're just remaking the original movie, but they left out the good parts. Books? What the fuck are you talking about. TOTAL RECALL is based on the PKD short story, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, which is only about 18-22 pages depending on the print size you read it in. There are no so-called books at all. Just one short story. Also you can tell from the very first trailer for this that it was just a fucking shitty sanitized PG-13 remake of the original without Mars. You don't need to even see the damn movie to figure that out.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:12 a.m. CST

    aicn is fucked up right now

    by Russell

    I couldn't post and then it's fucked up when I do.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:17 a.m. CST

    You think this a remake of the original Total Recall...?

    by disgustingduo

    "It is!" Sorry couldn't resist it. Seriously, this looks like a load of old bollocks and if they wanted to do something different from the Verhoeven version, they why didn't they just go back to the original source material? The answer to that is simply - they couldn't be arsed.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:33 a.m. CST

    I think they dropped the Mars angle...

    by Bill Clay

    ...after the John Carter debacle.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:34 a.m. CST

    If Harry reviews this the by line will read

    by Phategod2

    Total Recall not that bad! followed by 10 paragraphs apologizing for how bad the movie is. But the fat ass has a nerve to be "disappointed" with the Dark Knight Returns.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:53 a.m. CST


    by kenchun24

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:55 a.m. CST

    Just saw this...

    by Itchypanda

    It's a cliff's notes version of the original minus the dark, gallows humor of the original. The movie never sits on the characters long enough to understand their motivations. The three breasts are revealed in full glory but a scene near the end of the movie involving an elevator/express tram going through the earth's core (not kidding) and a fight scene that happens OUTSIDE of the elevator was too much for me to consider seriously.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:55 a.m. CST

    @deaftone Im well aware of the short story, what's the difference..

    by Aidil_Afham

    If I say "short story", "pages"? The point is, they said this movie would stay true to the source material and not Verhoven's movie. But they lied, its a straight remake of that movie with same scenes and homages that included the tri boobed hooker and a red head lady in a yellow jacket with a scarf and said "two weeks" And how does that make me a plant? I paid TWO tickets to watch it and said its not as bad as you might expect, its watchable but forgettable.

  • Nothing to see here... Throw another shitty remake on the pile... Which one is next.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:06 a.m. CST

    weismann only makes movies to give his wife work

    by walt

    so she will keep fucking him waste of celluloid in other news, the dark tower is back on and they are talking to russell crowe...that is some bullshit

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:15 a.m. CST


    by jbinminot

    ... if Beckinsale sucks his dick!

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:18 a.m. CST

    Uhh, Nordling, do you have a clue?

    by SuperXY

    This isn't a remake of the Verhov/Schwarz Total Recall it's a new version of a short story. It's more faithful to the original material. Love it or hate it, but if there are similar scenes it's because they were in the story. How hard is that to understand? Your entire review is basically summed up as: "I don't like this because it isn't more like the one that I liked and also I don't read."

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:19 a.m. CST

    she only married Wiseman...

    by jbinminot

    ... for the green card

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:23 a.m. CST

    Who was asking for this? Why was this film even made?

    by Ironhelix

    Did they do any market research or anything. I just cannot imagine how this got greenlit.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:39 a.m. CST

    uhh, superxy fuck off plant

    by rakesh patel

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:40 a.m. CST

    I wonder how much John Cho

    by rakesh patel

    got paid for his cameo. enough to do it obviously, not enough to actually want to promote it

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:46 a.m. CST

    So do we or don't we...

    by Cadillac Jones

    ...get to see nips on the three-tittied chick?

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:50 a.m. CST

    The three boobs weren't in a bra

    by ManaByte

    Only on screen of a PG-13 safe one-second flash though.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:51 a.m. CST


    by Cadillac Jones


  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:52 a.m. CST

    Kate Beckinsale full-frontal nudity...

    by Cadillac Jones

    ...might have possibly saved this.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:55 a.m. CST


    by Albert Herbert

    I'm not a big Colin Farrel fan, but I think you're right.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:02 a.m. CST

    Somewhere, Arnold is smiling

    by wcolbert

    Knowing that this one will be forgotten and people will continue to enjoy his movie. I know I will. :)

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:05 a.m. CST

    Saw this last night

    by positivelySlime

    And Nordling is 100% spot-on with his review. This is exactly the way I felt about it.

  • O.K. Just returned from the latest version of Phillip K. Dick's "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale." It's once again called TOTAL RECALL for the big screen. While the plot lines are similar in the two motion pictures that's due to being based on Dick's great original story and the fact fantastic screenwriter Dan O'Bannon is credited again in this new film for "Film Story" as well as "Co-Screenwriter." However there is much that is new & different about this NEW movie. First, and foremost, Mars has NOTHING to do with anything this time, there's NO joking robot cabby here, NO "Basket Case" styled freak, NO giant fluoroscopy security checks, NO blue sky on Mars moments, NO Arnold one liners. Man, Dick must have been rolling in his grave over those. Set design is less influenced by "Clockwork Orange" and much more like the humid decayed world of "Blade Runner" (Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep), has that same racial mix to the population too. Some parts of the flick reminded me of "Soylent Green." There is also an excellent ensemble cast of actors assembled here. Over all I really enjoyed myself at the cinema this evening, there was healthy applause from the packed theater as the end credits rolled, and a large amount of audience members were still in their seats after the lengthy credits had run, something I've noticed has NOT been the case with most flicks the last month or so.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:07 a.m. CST


    by Cadillac Jones

    Ha! Dose eedyuts! Mein oreejuneel uz still der bezt!

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:12 a.m. CST

    why doesnt anyone want to make, man in the high castle?

    by walt

    great dystopian future story

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:14 a.m. CST

    fathergeek got the swag this month

    by walt

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:18 a.m. CST

    Oh god...not more cartoon violence.

    by Flyswatta

    Honestly this destroyed batman as well.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:29 a.m. CST

    That's nice, fathergeek, but what did you think of TDKR?

    by Robert Evans

    Because if you took the ridiculous Harry approach to that one, I'll pass on Total Recall.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:30 a.m. CST

    Len Wiseman is now four for four

    by kwisatzhaderach

    Give the guy some credit, it's pretty impressive making utter shit time after time. I hope this spectacularly bombs.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:35 a.m. CST

    i heard this movie was the total recall of our time? err, wait...

    by Balkin Flabgurter

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:44 a.m. CST

    Man, I got five kids to feed!

    by Sound Designer Dan

    No Benny character in this version?

  • The rest of them sat shell-shocked in their seats, wondering who talked who into wasting their money on this piece of shit. An elevator that goes through the core of the earth (which is about as hot as the surface of the sun), with Colin and Jessica climbing UP THE SIDE of the thing as it travels at 30,000 mph. Seriously? OK, if that flies with you, I guess we have different standards.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 3:13 a.m. CST

    It has 'lense flares' you say?

    by LeonardsBellbottoms

    My my, I'm looking forward to them!

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 3:23 a.m. CST

    fuck this movie


    in the butt

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 4:25 a.m. CST

    so its like the original then

    by Pipple

    get off that movie's nuts yo

  • and also because opinions here hold zero f#cking credibility. FACT. (yeah...references)

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 4:49 a.m. CST

    Excellent review.

    by chuffsterUK


  • Aug. 3, 2012, 4:50 a.m. CST

    So it's more like the short story?

    by Schadenfreude

    'cause it sounds to me like the only hints of the short story that exist are ones lifted from the original. I mean, if turns out that Quaid has a magic wand given to him by aliens when he was nine years old that he uses to prevent the invasion of Earth then I stand corrected.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 4:54 a.m. CST

    The problem with Harry's TDKR review...

    by luciusfox

    ... is that (with genuinely no offense intended) it is an incredibly infantile one. Nolan writes his characters as human beings with shades of grey (part of 'grounding' the approcah to these stories), not all as pure good or evil, or badass or not. That's how a film aimed at adults should be written, shades of grey. Looks like Harry (for all his protestations) prefers the Schumacher approach. Manbat and Clayface? Really? Really?

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 4:57 a.m. CST


    by CuervoJones

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 5:20 a.m. CST

    Surprise of the day:

    by Delta5Qmp

    This remake justifies its existence. Just barely, but it manages to rise above the utterly useless mess of modern remakes by offering some amazing Sci-Fi set pieces, solid action and doing reasonable justice to the source material. The real stars of the film, seeing as the actors didn’t really do much, are the settings. From a colossal slum akin to thousands of Kowloon Walled cities stacked on top of each other to a rich metropolis that rivals 5th Element’s to a vast subway that moves through the core of the earth to an apocalyptic wasteland veiled in toxic fog, this movie reaches Star Wars levels of futuristic world design with impressive effects work. I actually wished this one was in 3D, it would have been an amazing experience. Through these magnificent settings we get foot chases, maze chases, hover-car chases, zero gravity gunfights (realistically handled ones with Zero-G kickback!), robot police, cool gadgets and weapons, numerous explosions and one really cool big explosion that wrecks all sorts of things. There are weaknesses and plot holes, it’s very far from perfect. None of the actors get to act, and knowing the basic story robs the film of the twists and turns that make the plot so cool. Many elements are squandered, but most are represented in some form. Some gags for the original are referenced, some of the original’s coolest bits are replaced by not so cool bits. I think audiences unfamiliar with the original film or story will find this a real pleasure though. It’s more down to Earth than the original, not just literally but it feels more plausible, the vision of the future is to the Verhoeven film what the recent Batman films are to Burton’s. Not as spectacular, more realistic, less charming, more ambitious in scale. Of course this won't be remembered for its quality like the new Batmen, but still- It feels more like Minority Report or Bourne Identity than anything else. And that’s far better than I expected. And the spoiler that the whole internet has been wondering since the remake was announced: There is indeed triple breasted nudity.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 5:23 a.m. CST

    It says a lot Harry....

    by Geoff

    When fellow TB'ers are more concerned about how you'll write up your review than actually talking about this particular review. I feel your credibility, if you ever had any, is slipping away. Pity

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 5:49 a.m. CST

    Harry's review subject line:

    by B Arnold Quizzling

    "Harry thinks TOTAL RECALL is so almost totally nearly impossibly recally, but is actually just sometimes totally recally & mostly cool..."

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 5:59 a.m. CST

    I bet it's remade again in 10 years with Channing Tatum

    by Gary Makin

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 6:31 a.m. CST

    Is Hairy from verk still da boss?

    by Mark Jones

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 6:40 a.m. CST

    Lay Off Fathergeek, He Has Five Kids To Feed

    by Aquatarkusman

    Well, just the one, actually, but the result is the same.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 6:44 a.m. CST

    Which movie is being reviewed here?

    by Logan_1973

    You talked about the two movies so much I feel like I read a review on the original.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 7:10 a.m. CST

    The comment about the sanitized gunfight is unfair

    by DadTimesTwo

    One, the movie was made and put in the can before the terrible shooting in Aurora, and two, a lot of PG, PG-13 and TV violence is sans bloodsquids and gore. It's not fair to single out one film that went the bloodless route to secure a PG-13 rating.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 7:10 a.m. CST

    This review is schizophrenic

    by DadTimesTwo

    One minute, he's criticizing it for being too similar to the original, and the next, he's saying there was no this, no that...

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 7:27 a.m. CST

    Harry totally loves TOTAL RECALL

    by martinprince

    Hey folks, Harry here. Y'know, Mars was always my favorite planet growing up. When it got dark whereever my family was peddling toys and movie memoribilia that week I would lie on the grass and stare up at the sky...into space!!! My eyes always were looking for RED PLANET, mysterious home of H.G. WELLS WAR OF THE WORLDS aliens, and my favorite, JOHN CARTER KING OF MARS. I started collecting any toys about Mars I could today collection is ginormous...BIKER MICE FROM MARS, MARS NEEDS MOMS, and a towering pile of MARS BARS wrappers. Y'know, at my senior prom...

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 7:31 a.m. CST

    He had to drag Aurora into the review?

    by Mugato5150

    What the fuck does Aurora have to do with anything? He sounds like Walter in the Big Lebowski bringing up 'Nam at every random opportunity.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 8:04 a.m. CST

    by nssdigitalchumps

    Different film. Different path. Just overall different feel. I liked it a lot. It did have a Blade Runner taste to it, but what do you expect when you have the same author? I'm glad they did it this way, but felt like it was shallow in some areas. Len Wiseman tends to make portions of his movies shallow when it comes to storytelling. It's fine, though. Nordling just sounds too nostalgic to accept Total Recall for what it is, which is NOT the same film as Arnie's. It's probably closer to the short story.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 8:15 a.m. CST

    Nordling, re lens flare

    by Mike J

    You do know JJ Abrams didn't event this technique, right? So you will have seen things like Easy Rider and the original Planet of the Apes, yes? You know, a couple of classic movies directed with more skill, panache and flare (sorry) than Abrams will ever be capable of, decades before JJ's terrible Trek movie. I mean, your're a movie expert aren't you?

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 8:18 a.m. CST


    by Mike J

    LMAO! Man, that was VERY funny. I love jokes that take the piss out of movie-expert (snigger) Harry Knowles. He just deserves it so much.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 8:20 a.m. CST

    nssdigitalchumps: have you actually read any PKD?

    by martinprince

    The aesthetic of BLADE RUNNER was a creation of the filmmakers, not the author of the novel. If this TOTAL RIPOFF has a BLADE RUNNER look that's because its an unoriginal hackjob of a movie, not because both movies are based on PKD works.

  • even situations where lens flare would not happen. it's kind of ridiculous.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 8:22 a.m. CST

    I say why even bother to review this trash

    by Steve Lamarre

    Stupid corporatized, bastardized garbage-take on classic material. I'm gonna read me some Ursula Le Guin for some real scifi.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 8:24 a.m. CST

    Bloodless killings

    by ChestRockwell

    I don't blame violent video games and bloodless killings in movies for teenage shooting sprees. But just like the relative ease of obtaining assault weapons, I think it makes shooting sprees more likely. Young people don't see the true impact and consequences of killing in video games and in PG13 movies. And no, I'm not saying we should ban all violence in PG13 movies or ban guns. I'm just saying that glamorizing an act that's not glamorous and making it easy to carry out that act will increase the number of people that carry out that act.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 8:26 a.m. CST

    Sanitized Violence = Lame Characters

    by John Ary

    Totally agree with you Nordling. There are no ramifications to any of the action scenes. People are ruthlessly slaughtered throughout the picture without a single drop of blood or pause to ponder the consequences. If someone dies, the characters simply move on, with their names never to be mentioned again. There is simply no care taken with any of the people that inhabit this beautifully rendered CGI world of the future. Why should the audience care about the characters when the filmmakers chose to solely concentrate on the special effects instead?

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 8:28 a.m. CST


    by nssdigitalchumps

    To be honest, I saw the film in the 80s before reading the story, so I'm a bit skewed. I will have to go back and read it again without the thoughts of Ridley Scott's film pushing through my mind. Excellent point, sir.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 8:33 a.m. CST

    Saw this last night and...

    by notarydpo

    This review is dead on. And Cranston is wasted so badly. The piece he wears, coupled with the over the top line delivery, makes him a ringer for Phil Hartman.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 8:37 a.m. CST

    I have hate for the original

    by menacingphantom

    After Terminator from Arnold and Robocop from Verhoeven I was expecting great things when it first came out so I dragged skeptical family members to it. It was humiliating to sit through all the silly crap that, to make matters worse, had almost nothing to do with the original story. I had to apologize to my guests at the end. Maybe I would have loved it when I was 10 or 12, but by 20 I was too old for it. Aside from 12 year olds I've never understood the love for this. I mean do you remember the scene where Arnold's head almost explodes from the vacuum then he's fine? WTF?

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 9:11 a.m. CST

    Cox does not exist in this dojo

    by Cobra--Kai

    In the world of aicn BRIAN COX gets everywhere. Harry watched him in ALIEN. Nordling saw him in TOTAL RECALL. I personally loved him as Daddy Warbucks in ANNIE.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 9:16 a.m. CST

    I'll blow this movie up.....

    by MasterControlProgram

    And be back home in time for Corn Flakes. -- End of Line --

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 9:22 a.m. CST

    Sca-Hroooooh yhooooooo!!!!!

    by UltraTron

  • A humorless, uptight, tired, derivative riff on a vastly more entertaining, daring, and original film. I have the feeling that Robocop will share the same fate - for pretty much exactly the reasons described here - good cast or not.

  • Massive amounts of violence along with some extra profanity and trashy sex jokes - sure, no problem! These films won't sell themselves to the kids by themselves, after all - we need some help! The 'sanitizing' factor is something I never thought about much with PG-13, but that hits the nail on the head. We get the acts, but none of the consequences. PG-13 has not improved cinema one iota, in fact it's made it much worse. There's something essential about the gap between PG and R that resulted in films having clear-cut identities. Blurring the lines has pretty much resulted only in heaping piles of garbage clogging the cinemas, and an all-out assault on childhood innocence by the avaricious, soulless suits of Hollywood.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 9:54 a.m. CST

    Well said, @chestrockwell.

    by kevred

    It's pretty logical, isn't it? What's not logical is those who insist that things as they are now have no effect on people or events. Of course they do. Human behavior is a complex formula, but pretty absurd for some to pout and say nothing at all should change.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 9:55 a.m. CST

    Ahh but only 2/3 of those boobs are real.

    by 77AD

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 10:14 a.m. CST

    So all movies with gunplay should be R now?

    by Tjarren

    All movies with romance and sex should be R then too, as not having nudity and realistic sex is sanitizing the reality of sex. Also all movies with talking should be R too, as people use profanity all the time and the real world and to not use them is sanitizing the reality of talking. In fact, movies should be about nothing but reality, since anything else is sanitizing the real world for people. Yeah...

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 10:33 a.m. CST

    Bullshit father Geek

    by ScaryJim

    I guess Harry logged in on his dads account since we all knew he'd defend this trash- either that or shitty taste in film runs in the family- No offense meant, it really is a special skill to like shitty films. WE ALL KNEW that the marketing line was that this was a more faithful adaptation of the short story (It's not, I've read it ) . WHAT WE REALLY KNOW is this is some kind of bastardized attempt to trick PKD fans (like myself) and fans of the original movie (er still myself) into watching this movie -OTHERWISE THEY WOULDN'T HAVE CALLED IT TOTAL RECALL, THEREFORE SEVERING THE LINK AND ALLOWING THEM TO GET AWAY WITH SAYING IT WASN'T A REMAKE. Please stop defending this soulless tripe - and if you did read any DICK you'd know that Verhoeven is perfect- Dick was just as schizo, I wish Verhoeven could do more adaptations.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 10:34 a.m. CST

    Nordling was talking out of his ass

    by Mugato5150

    All movie violence is non-consequential, unless it was the aforementioned Saving Private Ryan or Schindler's List. It's always been that way. Indy blows a guy away because the other guys waved his sword around and annoyed him. The Terminator knee caps a guy and casually says, "He'll live". John McClane shoots the fuck out of some guy and makes a humorous quip. All of a sudden because there's a shooting of the week we're supposed to get all sensitive about on screen violence? Shut the fuck up with that noise and stop trying to pretend to be earnest and concerned about on-screen violence. It's unbecoming.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 10:42 a.m. CST

    @mugato5150, 2 of the 3 films you cite were rated R

    by kevred

    The overall issue of the significance of screen violence - and whether violence in R-rated films is handled well - is still an open debate, but Nordling's point about PG-13 stands.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Looks crap

    by smudgewhat

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 10:58 a.m. CST


    by cozy

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 10:59 a.m. CST

    My personal favorite - and something most all movies do...

    by Darth Macchio

    ..the guy who dies immediately after being stabbed. Stabbed in the chest? Death is immediate. Belly? Dead immediately. But shot in the leg? No worries! You can still walk! Even run with only a minor limp! The arm? No worries! You'll still be able to fire weapons and have a fist fight if needed. But get stabbed with a steak knife and you're dead before you hit the ground. I believe you can die instantly being stabbed in a precise location on the back of the neck between the vertebrae - not sure where or how but it's part of SEAL training I believe (read about it) but I don't think getting stabbed anywhere else on the human body would cause instant death much less death within a few seconds of being stabbed.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 11:15 a.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    darth macchio, you think thats bad. All it took for slender Englishman Roger Moore to kill bad guys was a karate chop across their shoulders... The poor old A Team had it the opposite way round. Every episode they could fire thousands of rounds at the bad guys and no one ever took a bullet. Eventually a nearby barn or something would explode and all the baddies would fall down stunned.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 11:17 a.m. CST


    by Russell

    If you're referring to the scene in ROTLA when Indy when he shoots the Arab that is waving his sword around in the town square, the decision was made for Indy to shoot him instead of disarming him with his whip which is what was written in the script. This could not be done because Harrison Ford had gotten terrible food poisoning from some local cuisine which caused Atomic Violent Diarrhea for him about every ten minutes for several days. The town square had been blocked off for only a few hours and the scene had to be shot and that was the compromise. Ford was in no mood to swing a fucking whip around with The Hershey Squirts always looming within. This on-set story is actually pretty famous and Ford and Spielberg have joked about it in interviews before. Oh and Nord's comment about Aurora and TOTAL REMAKE is very Walter Sobchak with none of the humor and has no place in this review.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 11:18 a.m. CST


    by Andrew Coleman

    One guy citing people should shut the fuck up about violence in movies... He mentions Indy and that was in the 80's. Then mentions movies that are rated R... What people are saying is in PG-13 movies shouldn't have sanitized violence. I agree and I have believed this for a while. I'm fine with people adding in robots to make violence work but bloodless violence doesn't work. I get studio's need money but pushing action franchises to be PG-13 is bad like really bad. This... And Die Hard should always be R rated. Or at least show how violence and death has an impact... TDKR when JGL shoots that guys... Realizes he just murdered someone and that guy can't tell him anything and he tosses the gun aside. The violence had some weight! Is anyone else hoping Expendables 2 just wrecks this movie box office wise?

  • It showed many police officers laying dead or wounded after the battle against Bane's henchmen. A bit a tragic irony that you chose to emphasize the aurora shootings considering the violence of TDKR and its predecessor. For countless decades, movies without R ratings have shown men and women getting shot without any blood or gore. Just watch a western from the 1950's someday. The point is: violence in movies aimed at teens or preteens has existed for a very long time. Whether it was from guns or lasers. Whether it showed families being massacred or an entire tribe or ethnic group (even non human ones) being wiped out. I think you strove too hard and inappropriately to link the shootings in Aurora with violent depictions in a PG-13 movie that probably has less violence on screen than many video games do.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 11:24 a.m. CST

    Remaking movies that were based loosely on books...

    by Mikey Wood

    ...and taking them further away from their source material. Is that where we are now? I saw the original TOTAL RECALL in the the theater and even then, at age 17, I found it to be idiotic, over-the-top, and without a single ounce of class (which, as I've gotten older, I have discovered to be Verhoeven's 'schtick' but I can still take it or leave it). It took what could have been a really intense thriller (originally Richard Dreyfuss was going to play Doug Quail) and turned it into sleeze. So, now we have a slick remake...And it's even LESS like the original short-story than the first. Why don't we try going back and making a FAITHFUL adaptation? WHY? I'll tell you why: Because people don't read anymore. The 'dumbing down' of American continues and gets worse and worse and worse. IDIOCRACY wasn't a was a DOCUMENTARY. 'Intelligent' is the new 'black'. Being SMART makes one a minority. And I'm not even saying GENIUS level. I'm CERTAINLY not a brainiac but, for the love of GOD... Sorry....I've gone off.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 11:27 a.m. CST

    Also in Terminator 2 the reason why Arnie says "He'll live"

    by Russell

    After knee-capping the security guard is because John Connor JUST FUCKING TOLD HIM TO SWEAR HE WILL NOT KILL ANYONE. That's because violence DOES have consequences and James Cameron makes that pretty clear with the entire movie. That's the moral of the story and if you can't see that then you're either incompetent or willfully ignorant or maybe both.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 11:40 a.m. CST

    Somebody actually got paid to design THAT POSTER!

    by 5secondfuse

    The same useless cabbages then actually paid some talentless chump to spend 10 minutes on photoshop doing a piss poor job clearly don't mind pissing away 150 million on a pointless remake nobody ever wanted. Wiseman is THE KING of Hack Directors. He seriously makes Ratner look like fucking Spielberg he's that bad. I can watch a Ratner Movie and at least I can crack a smile from time to time. Wiseman has made NOTHING. His movies are total shite. Dull Generic SHITE. I can't even class his Die Hard Movie as a Die Hard Movie. It doesn't look or feel like a Die Hard Movie. It's PG13 Crap. Not remotely thrilling or exciting at all. Beckinsale has NEVER been in even a half decent movie. Total zero charisma in front of a camera. Farrell can act but boy does he pick some stinkers to be in. Biel looks super hot but she'll never be above movies like this. It's proven once again that the suits in charge have zero clue about anything and that falls straight into the talentless hands of PG13 Coorporate kiss ass yes boy Wiseman. Do you reckon that one day soon old Len and his Mrs will sit down and ponder why they've achieved the great feat that having the world given to them on a platter.......they've both achieved FUCK ALL WORTH REMEMBERING IN FILM.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 11:57 a.m. CST

    talandagwood laying the smacketh down - once again!

    by Dirk_The_Amoeba

    Speaking truth to power!

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:01 p.m. CST

    Glad this piece of shit is headed for the trash...

    by Turd_Is_Floating_Underneath_The_Gravy

    It turned out exactly as I thought it would. Just like the crappy Conan remake, the only version people will continue to remember (rightfully) is the Arnold version. I'd love if Arnold and Verhoeven got together and made Total Recall 2 as a fuck you to this cynical, by-the-numbers vomit.

  • or an uptight twat that gets upset over some cartoon violence.... The original is a satire, tongue-in-cheek take on violent action movies by being excessively violent itself... see the joke? Verhoven was/is a prankster with that shit... as he did in Robocop. Idiots. Dumbing donw indeed. Dummies and whimps.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:14 p.m. CST

    Violence in society will NEVER be stopped...

    by Dan

    it is in our DNA to fuck with other people. It's how we are wired, we like to destroy shit and we have no evidence to suggest we are on our way to stop it.

  • i.e., DKR, ASM and Prometheus.

  • Taken the characters and story from the original but not carried over the cheesy campiness of the original. Which it sounds like that may have been what they were going for with this one, but they should have gotten a different writer and better director.

  • goes on and on how this is not the 1990 version, how it looks like other movies, and leaves all of six words to actually critique the movie "Over all I really enjoyed myself..". And what does the audience staying in their seats have to do with the quality of the movie?? Maybe they were all sleeping, for whatever point it's supposed to make.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:40 p.m. CST

    Do I finally get my cornflakes in this one?????

    by harry

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:45 p.m. CST

    dobb it with the rebootarded stuff. stop being rebootarded

    by nightgamer360

    its not going to work. 3 or 4 mediocre reboots out of 30 arent going to save reboots. id personaly love to see reboots with old actors and new actors keeping scores, most people see reboots that are less than 50+ years old out of nostalgia. 20-30 year olds usualy produce bland, 13-26 year old no film history demographicaly targeted films (hence the pg 13 rating), not understanding how to score, pace films properly and producing loud obnoxious emo depressing visual effects fests. the score for verhovens recall, starship troopers and robocop 1 & 2 are terrific. score makes up 80% of a movie. new directors need to learn how to score and pace films (largely from the films they are debasing and trashing as they remake). watching young dudes clamor about reboots is like watching fat 50 year old grandma's get hot over american idol. all i can do is roll my eyes and say r.i.p. american entertainment 1950-1990. the only reason hollywood is making reboots is because with a sequel or remake they can gaurantee a percentage of the gross vs. taking a chance on a new film failing. if a film isnt 50+ years old (like the fly and my favorite remake the thing) it shouldnt be remade, this should be scripture.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:48 p.m. CST

    It's a Len Wiseman movie. Who would be entertained by this?

    by Thad Pittman

    Dude should be blacklisted just for Die Hard 12 alone.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:48 p.m. CST

    How did Arnold riff on his image in Total Recall?

    by moorE12

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:51 p.m. CST

    and "

    by Thad Pittman

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:53 p.m. CST

    verhoven and 80s action is epic because of humor

    by nightgamer360

    verhovens movies were great because of thier score and dark comedy especialy with terrific comedy villan moments done with the right touch of sarcasm. stop trying to paint a mustache on the mona lisa. 80s action is generaly the heyday of american action cenima, simply because we have dreary emo depressing american action flicks with the exception of rodriquez and tarantino flicks (wich generaly employ dry humor like desperado). even clint eastwood had terrific comedy one liners such as his famous dirty harry did i shoot 4 shots or 5 scene. arnold was a master at the dry comedic one liner. take a dump, get a sense of humor rebootards. stop making movies for 13-26 year olds and return to the 18-50 year old demographic.

  • People used to care what YOU thought. You guys aren't making it any tougher on your critics. All people want and expect is honesty from a wisened film source. We can get doubletalk anywhere.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:57 p.m. CST

    I wish I got to be the meat in a Beckinsale-Biel sandwich.

    by SergeantStedenko

    Had this been R and there was a three-way scene in this similar to the one in Wild Things, who among us would not have gone and seen this? Not sure why Hollywood never thinks this way, but everyone knows I speak the truth.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:20 p.m. CST


    by Mikey Wood

    I love ROBOCOP. That was a satire. I'll give you that, for SURE. STARSHIP TROOPERS? Same thing. While it's not a favorite of mine, it was, without a doubt, satire. I saw and still see no satire in the original TOTAL RECALL. I see violence for violence's sake. Big, dumb, sleezy bullet porn. I revisit it once in a while in case I somehow missed something but, no. Sorry. Some great effects, though, I will say that.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:20 p.m. CST

    Wait, the original Recall is *dumb*, Nordling?

    by Lucky13

  • And (22 year old Spoiler!!) Verhoven admits that, yes, Quaid is dreaming throughout the movie, and the ending white-out (as opposed to fade out), after the kiss, is to illustrate Quaid being taken off life support, thus dying, and "seeing the light". For those who say that the original is fun, goofy audacious to have the film taking place all in the "hero's" head, and the "hero" dying at the end. (The indestructable Arnold Schwarzenegger at that!!)

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:27 p.m. CST

    Sigh....we KNEW this would suck ass...

    by pumaman

    At least we can now all look forward to The remake of Highlander....and yes, I'm joking!!!!!!!!

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:36 p.m. CST

    openthepodbaydoorshal: Dream or not?

    by Itchypanda

    They play around with it at the end but you get your definitive answer at the end and the answer is not satisfying.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:58 p.m. CST

    senor_spielbergo & aquatarkusman...

    by Brian

    ...both made me crack up....the rest of you just got . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ......coxxed!!!!!!!!

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 3:59 p.m. CST

    Everyone is badmouthing a movie they havent seen. im gonna try it

    by shalashaska

    but im actually going to sneak into it after i pay to see something else. maybe batman. nothing else is out.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 4:13 p.m. CST

    shalashaska, Ebert and Moriarity kind of liked it

    by SergeantStedenko

    Ebert liked it as much as TDKR: *** out of ****.

  • we need saving private ryan 2 for the next generation.

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 5:39 a.m. CST

    how is this a remake then?

    by JAMF

    i read in the other review something about no mars and a thing with robots. what the hell.

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 6:04 a.m. CST

    Verhoeven didn't get his own movie.

    by FluffyUnbound

    There's not supposed to be an answer for whether it's a dream or not. Dick's whole point is that since our conception of the world consists entirely of memory, if memory is unreliable we can know nothing of the world, or even about ourselves. You couldn't prove that the movie is 'just a dream' even if after the fade to white Quaid woke up back in the Rekall office. After all, in the short story, there's YET ANOTHER set of suppressed memories in Quaid's brain under the first set. (It's as if at the end of THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS we discovered that the Zion universe was actually just another Matrix laid on top of the first one. In such a circumstance 'reality' becomes an impossible concept that would endlessly recede from the observer.)

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 7:24 a.m. CST

    Harry, was it "fun in that 'turn off your brain' kinda way?"

    by sambafreak13

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 7:49 a.m. CST

    Funny on purpose?

    by DukieMichaelNamondRandy

    I'm...not sure if I agree with that...

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 3:05 p.m. CST


    by Transhuman

    I think that would have been a cool ending to Revolutions

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 3:32 p.m. CST


    by maxwello

    That's actually what I thought they were going to do when Neo's superpowers worked on the robots that were coming after them after the ship blew up at the end of the second movie. Would have been a much more satisfying development than the Christ allegory we wound up with.

  • Aug. 6, 2012, 1:33 a.m. CST

    it was ok but....

    by ihatefanboys

    It lost me realism wise when they had Quaid open the briefcase and find money with Obama's face on it, as if hes actually going to be considered great enough to put on money someday. Maybe monopoly money. Bill Clinton on money ? thats believable, considering he was the best president in my lifetime.