Movie News

Terry Malloy Doesn’t Think You’ll Remember TOTAL RECALL Wholesale

Published at: Aug. 3, 2012, 12:42 p.m. CST

 

 

 

 

What’s up, Contenders? Terry Malloy here live from the waterfront.

 

The studios really make it tough these days to evaluate a movie based solely on its own merits. Remake after reboot hit the silver screens and some people love it. But if you listen to the movie blogs, you would think each reboot signifies the end of civilization as we know it. Regardless of how you feel about the onslaught of the remakes, they remain a safe bet for studios and they’re going to keep coming! 

 

Some remakes are really fun and some are worthless, and some are anywhere in between; so being “anti-remake” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But on the flip side, I don’t think anyone out there is decidedly pro-remake except for studio execs. How many of your friends just can’t WAIT for the next huge remake, specifically because it is a remake? It is always a dance between honoring what has come before and adding new elements to blow our post-modern minds. Elements of nostalgia and fandom are constantly colliding with audience’s desires to be thrilled, etc. The debate goes on and on! 

 

So where does Len Wiseman’s TOTAL RECALL fit in the reboot machine? My sense is that this new TOTAL RECALL is exactly what most people expect it to be. It is very slick, pretty to look at, and it offers plenty of thrills while managing to be pretty forgettable in the process.

 

I haven’t revisited Paul Verhoeven’s TOTAL RECALL in many years, but there are some totally insane moments in that film which are etched into my brain. Arnold’s atmosphere deprived eyes bugging out of his skull, that amazing fake fat lady head, and of course Kuato. I won’t dive into spoilers until a little bit later, but I will say that there is absolutely nothing in the new RECALL that brings the crazy quite like RECALL ’90.

 

 

It almost feels that, with the remake, Len Wiseman has created the world’s first live action platforming video game movie. I don’t recall (see what I did there?) the last time I saw so many set pieces centered around jumping. So much jumping. The future world that TOTAL RECALL is set in seems to have been designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, with perfectly placed windows, magnetic highways, and even massive, floating elevator boxes straight out of a Mario game. You sort of wonder at some points if Colin Farrell’s version of Douglas Quaid will jump onto a flag pole with fireworks accompanying him after he navigates a level. I’d be really interested to hear if video game levels were part of the inspiration behind the chase sequences in the film, because one in particular I really liked and had a side-scrolling feel to it.

 

The other piece of the film that I feel really works, is the conflict set up between the two female leads. As a red-blooded male, I tend to find both Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale to be… attractive. Here in this TOTAL RECALL, the plot goes in such different directions than the original film that audiences at least have a chance to be unsure, from time to time, who Quaid really is, or which identity he will choose to believe in. Is he an everyman on a bad Rekall trip? Or is he secret agent Hauser, rebel hero? Each of those identities pairs him with an accompanying lover. If he is Doug Quaid, Everyman, he gets to be married to Kate Beckinsale. If he is secret agent Hauser, it seems Jessica Biel is very much in love with him. And to be honest, I really enjoyed that element of the film. Who would you choose? Which life seems most appealing, especially when you can’t trust yourself to know what is real? Wiseman cast two stunning women to represent two different world’s for Farrell’s character, and it worked for me.

 

 

I felt like Kate Beckinsale was having the most fun out of anybody in this movie and she plays the Sharon Stone role with a TERMINATOR-like relentlessness that I had fun with. The entire rest of the cast just kind of does their job, and no one really embarrasses themselves. But Beckinsale offered the most verve to her role. Regardless of the fact that her husband directed this thing, Kate makes the most of it all on her own. And man, does her hair look good while she does it.

 

I feel that the TOTAL RECALL trailers have done a pretty good job of selling exactly what the movie has to offer. If you want a pretty, effects-heavy thrill ride with a sort of MINORITY REPORT meets THE MATRIX feel to it, jump right on in to TOTAL RECALL. There is a lot to enjoy here, and absolutely nothing that will change your life. It is almost like watching the film offers the same experience that Rekall promises, thrilling but hollow memories.

 

 

 

 

 

ONE SPOILER ELEMENT 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t resist discussing one aspect of the new TOTAL RECALL that didn’t surprise me at all, but is a significant departure from the Verhoeven/Arnold film. You’ve been warned. There is no Mars! I was suspicious about the absence of Mars in the trailers, and assumed that meant Mars wouldn’t be an element in the film. Like I mentioned, the trailers for this film don’t lie. 

 

I’m a little torn about the Mars omission. On one hand, the Mars angle offered the environment for crazy memorable things to happen in Verhoeven’s vision. All those insane moments of three breasted glory and mutant tumor babies felt right in a Mars-set story. Wiseman’s edition doesn’t bring the crazy. It opts for the slick. And it delivers on that. But it just feels like that was the safer decision. And yet, if they had gone to Mars, this film would’ve had almost no identity of its own. 

 

I feel that Wiseman’s TOTAL RECALL is a lesser film than its predecessor precisely because it went a safer route, and failed to stick the landing. This film builds its own version of a dystopian future, and while it does distinguish this version from the original film, it feels very similar to BLADE RUNNER and other, better films. I like some of the concepts here in TOTAL RECALL, such as “The Fall”, the underground transport system that takes workers from Australia to Britain in mere minutes by travelling near the Earth’s core. And I liked the destroyed Earth/chemical fallout angle as well. But the film spends so much time being a platformer that it never QUITE sells the reality of the world it is set in. 

 

When you shoot for a safer story, you get a safer story. TOTAL RECALL aims at being a thrill ride and achieves that, but simply won’t sear anything into your geek brain.

 

And I’m Out.

 

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Readers Talkback

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  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:47 p.m. CST

    How long till Harry's gushing review?

    by Grando

    Complete with what he ate that day, what his stool looked like an an anecdote about his childhood that explains his love for this pile of shit?

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:48 p.m. CST

    THERE IS NO MARS?!?! HOLY SHIT!!!!

    by Emerald Snoggingbottom

    Oh wait that's been publicized for MONTHS

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:50 p.m. CST

    Terry Malloy is a NOBAWDY

    by Emerald Snoggingbottom

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:50 p.m. CST

    actually...

    by I87D

    I'm not even sure it's true that "Hollywood" is making more remakes/sequels than they used... I'd be willing to bet the actual number is the same as it ever was. What's different is that fewer truly "original" movies are being made (i.e. movies not based on a source material)... but you know what? If you include the exponential increase in TV production (the vast majority of which is "original"), I'd say it all evens out... Contrary to blogs and comments, Hollywood is no more or less creative than it ever was.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:53 p.m. CST

    i87d-yeah I was reading an old Pauline Kael piece the other day

    by Samuel Fulmer

    Called "Movies the desperate art" and she's comlaining about Hollywood/American film much in the same way we are now, but back in 1959. Her arguement was more against bad acting/casting then about remakes, but the feeling that Hollywood just doesn't know how to make a good film is the same thing we're saying today in 2012.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:55 p.m. CST

    No Mars?!? WTF?!?

    by Dingleberry Jones

    I suppose you'll tell me that Bruce Willis was dead the entire time & Soylent Green is people.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:01 p.m. CST

    The 1990 version-Well if you remake it

    by Samuel Fulmer

    Strip away the artifice and extreme nature of the acting, directing, what do you have? I mean really, we've seen these Dickian concepts gone over in a serious fashion now for the past ten years in apparently much better films. Strip away everything that was memorable (cheesy as it may be) you're left with a piece of art that appears dead on arrival. From all accounts they didn't really go back to the original Phillip K. Dick story, so what we have is a "realistic" version of the exact same film that is beloved due to it's insane nature. I understand people not liking the original, but if you're one of those people, you've got to admit that what you hate about it, is what many love about it. Take it away and you've got nothing really new.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:05 p.m. CST

    Or if you're going to re-do rip-off an old arnold film

    by Samuel Fulmer

    Go the Taken route. Really the plot is more or less Commando, just done in a more "real" fashion. Of course it's not called Commando, and deviated in many ways, but it's Commando all right.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:06 p.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 find...my 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, 1:08 p.m. CST

    @ i87d - Good Point.

    by Ed Travis

    That is a really good point. I agree that TV is really on the rise and haven't been sure what to do with that myself. Growing up I was a big movie snob and largely ignored TV, but a discerning person really just can't do that anymore.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:17 p.m. CST

    how to make remakes cool

    by nightgamer360

    maverick was an example of a well done remake that salutes old fans and brings new actors (while it was a tv show). so was star trek tng. most of these remakes suck because thier product movies designed to target 13-26 year olds with no film history while the directors have no clue how to properly score or pace movies, score being a key element in movies. most sequel franchises fail when they remove scores, actors, etc. i personaly havent liked batman after they dropped elfmans score and burton in 2. the only reason hollywood makes remakes and sequels is they can gaurantee a percentage of the gross. id much rather see a spinoff with new generation of actors (like star trek next generation did keeping star trek IIs music) than a straight remake. people that see remakes that arent 50+ years old out of nostalgia. hollywood just doesnt get how to do sequels or remakes correctly so we have this emo depressing loud, obnoxious sucky scored garbage comming out. generaly film buffs are highly nostalgic wich remakers ineptly dont get and often badmouth epic movies they remake. if a movie isnt 50+ years old in my opinion it shouldnt be remade period, like the thing (my favorite remake) and the fly were. music is also 80% of a franchise, dropping music scores is a huge mistake of remakes. verhoven and john carpenters music is terrific. verhovens films and action films of the 80s were great because of thier dry humor sarcasm including star wars movies and indy and even clint eastwood 70s movies. instead with the exception of tarantino and rodriquez flicks we have emo depressing bland visual effects fests. YOU MUST UNLEARN WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED. -end of line

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:22 p.m. CST

    senor_spielbergo, that's a little too dead-on

    by mr.underwater

    It's a little creepy

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:26 p.m. CST

    About today's amount of remakes:

    by DerLanghaarige

    It doesn't really have changed. Every week, up to 8 more original movies start at the US Box office (please note that I bent the rules of math a little bit. It's not like every week starts at least 1 remake. Most of the time there are 0. And I included with "original" just things, that haven't been made into a movie before, so an adaptation of a novel or comic book might not be original per se, but at least it's a movie for the 1st time.). The only thing that really has changed, is the news coverage. Hollywood remakes movies most of the time because of name recognition and all news websites, blogs and whatever jump on the bandwagon. Their coverage might not be all positive, but an "Oh no, those bastards in Hollywood are remaking childhood favourite XY!" still helps spreading the news. So yeah, I really think at one point we should more focus on all those original movies, especially those that doesn't have already a huge advertising budget. Not because "remakes are evil", but to put things into perspective again.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:31 p.m. CST

    Tell me when the REAL AICN reviewers like Quint or Merrick show up

    by AlienFanatic

    This guy's about as "pro" as one of those studio plants we get dishing on a film before it's released. When you spend the first two paragraphs (weakly) defending the remake system, then go on to admit you hadn't even bothered to look at the 1990 film in years, you lose me. I mean, is Terry so busy that he can write ONE article in months and can't even bother to spend an hour and a half watching the original to make relevant comparisons? Oh, and even the professional reviewers avoid the tediously overused word "dystopian" anymore. Please, excise it from your reviews in the future. On second thought, just stop reviewing altogether. I know I'm harsh, but I'm damned sick of guys like this and Ary writing the reviews when FAR better reviewers like Quint, The Kidd, and Merrick haven't been writing nearly enough.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:33 p.m. CST

    Hah. I said Ary "writes" a review.

    by AlienFanatic

    He's too lazy to actually sit down and write something. Or perhaps he's just illiterate. I can't STAND video reviews. That stuff belongs on E! or Entertainment Weekly, where some barbie doll reads us some "witty," canned review while she smiles and affects some kind of reporterly voice. AICN is best when you put the film-lovers up front and the posers cleaning up the TB forums. God I'm grumpy today.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:34 p.m. CST

    Ary doesn't write reviews

    by mr.underwater

    He videotapes himself talking about the movie. Which is why I never look at his reviews.

  • Were you here for Scriptgirl????????????

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:41 p.m. CST

    Well, in all fairness titsgirl didn't work for the site

    by mr.underwater

    Harry just liked her knockers so he would link to her on a weekly basis. I guess she still refused to blow him, so he stopped. These are the days of our lives...

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:43 p.m. CST

    Didn't shortly after he claimed to have met her

    by Samuel Fulmer

    She stopped making videos. Maybe he tried a Hitchcock/Tippi Hedren thing?

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:44 p.m. CST

    Needed more Tatum

    by JudeNWM

  • Titsgirl: Uh, when you said event, I expected something a little more than me and you alone at your house... Harry: Do you want me to turn on some japanese softcore?

  • I like the 1990 original but always thought something better could be made of it. The script is actually a really great with a lot of ambiguity and some nice plot twists. The "crazy" is not on the page, that's all Paul. Imagine what someone like Stanley Kubrick could have done with it, for instance. The idea is to reel in the over-the-top action and focus on the suspense and the psychological elements. Sounds like Len Wiseman was the wrong guy. Again.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:51 p.m. CST

    Thanks Terence.

    by Stripey

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:58 p.m. CST

    alienfanatic, did you just compare Quint to Merrick? No. Just, no.

    by Proman1984

    I'll take Quint and this guy over Merrick anyday.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:59 p.m. CST

    Who wants to see this movie?! Watch the original one!

    by MainMan2001

    There is no way in fucking hell this movie will be good!! \

  • Plenty of stroke-off sites out there. AICN never needed to be one of them. I'm just pissy in that I want reviews from the guys that have INTERESTING things to say that I haven't read on 99% of the Rottentomatoes blogs. Is that too much to ask? It sure as hell makes for a better TB when the guys writing the review make interesting, and even controversial points.

  • He proved with Moon that he likes mind games AND he can handle hard SF. He actually LIKES hard SF. The TR remake would have made more sense with him, but then again I think that by choosing Wiseman the studio wanted EXACTLY the type of film that it got. To invest the time and energy in a thinking-man's film, such as what Jones could have delivered, would not have been something that interested the studio. They want explosions, hot women, and a runtime that allows them to squeeze in as many showings in the first week as possible before the 70% drop the next week. For proof, see this weekend's TR numbers as well as the two weeks around the release of Dredd.

  • i've battled to find anything at all in the current crop of trailers for this offering which spoke of the horror that the original flick left with me. Whenever i go back to the good old staples of my youth, one of the things i always used to love was how far over the top directors and the Effects techs would go to bring something just a bit more gruesome or unbelievable (or both) to their storytelling. Robocop, Starship Troopers... I could see none of that in the previews for this. Granted, i can't really deal with the choice of lead for this particular reboot - there are loads of kickass thirty or forty-somethings out there who i'd have thought would have been a better choice than farell for the part - but i'm always hoping that someone will make good. i just couldn't see any emotional engagement being torn from the guy in those trailers. None of the good old gore, the nasty surprises, any of that. Was thinking to maybe checking it out of a weekend when it arrives here, but i think that what you've said has pretty much nailed it for me. It just doesn't sound like any kind of improvement on the original.

  • For awhile there he was virtually carrying AICN by writing everything.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:08 p.m. CST

    Really? I'll be the first to scream... plant! ?

    by Ricardo

    Plant

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 2:22 p.m. CST

    I've never written a review

    by rakesh patel

    but i'm sure as hell i could have done a better one than this. It's not that i care about the movie, i wanted an in depth analysis of why is was shit compared to the original. Time to set up my own blog methinks. < ironic as i work on websites.. no, im not a cam whore. Once again talk backers rule this site, people comparing reviewers, impressions of harry, script girl. Theres something that has forced harry and prevented him from developing this site. he cant tell us, which is fair enough, but damm its really starting to get frustrating seeing all these cracks so up

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 3:11 p.m. CST

    "see what I did there" - ya, that was annoying

    by cozy

  • If you are going to name check the title "We can remember it for you wholesale" you had better know that the story doesn't have that trip to Mars in it.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 8:58 p.m. CST

    @kdoc13 - no, he only just CAME from Mars in the original story

    by dderidex

    So, sure, his 'figuring out his actual past' didn't involve a trip back to Mars, but how could it? It was a short story! The whole 'discovering the alternate identity' thing took, like, TWO PAGES. That said, the original definitely involved Mars. We was an agent sent to Mars. He killed people on Mars. etc - it was just all background to the 'chase sequence' bit. (Oh, and the original short story had an alien invasion reference, too...pretty big deviation from this film)

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 9:15 p.m. CST

    Sounds like what I expect the movie to be...

    by billF

    and I think I will enjoy it.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 9:26 p.m. CST

    Titsgirl reviews

    by Hardboiled Wonderland

    The big Game of Thrones fansite Winter Is Coming did the same thing and used the same excuses. I'm still waiting for a real life Arya to assassinate their asses.

  • But not this version. This remake is Len-Wiseman-does-Minority-Report-sans-Spielberg. The result is inferior. The remake is filler -- ok for the masses who fork out their money and forget they ever saw the movie the next day, but not for the film/scifi buffs.

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 1:14 a.m. CST

    I wonder how long it'll be before they reboot The Matrix, too?

    by BiggusDickus

    Within a decade for sure.

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 5:07 a.m. CST

    What`s with the random font day ? Or have my eyes finally melted.

    by higgledyhiggles

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 5:34 a.m. CST

    half in the bag are the only video reviews worth watching

    by JAMF

    mostly because there's two guys so it's a convo rather than a monologue. and they're funny. anyone who thought this film would be good probably liked prometheus too.

  • Fuck remakes/reboots of movies that were good in the first place.

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 3:53 p.m. CST

    @batfunk, you are a boring fuck

    by awepittance

    if you actually believe everything you said about Total Recall above, seriously.. you bore the shit out of me

  • I enjoyed the movie. Not the best one I've seen this year, but certainly worth the price of a ticket. It was visually engaging, the story was reasonably hard science fiction (compared to what passes for sci-fi in Hollywood) and the acting and action were both competently handled. Saying that it wasn't enough like the original, that it lacked humour, not enough Cranston, etc. aren't really legitimate criticisms. It strikes me as the equivalent of saying Excalibur shouldn't have been made because the screenwriters failed to capture the dry wit of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or that Donner's Superman failed as a movie because it didn't have enough Marlon Brando. I prefer the TR to the original. You may or may not, but it's definitely not such a travesty that you should write it off sight unseen. Judging by the effusive praise for the original, I think many of the reviewers here are more nostalgic for their high school selves than they are willing to admit. While that's a perfectly legitimate reason to enjoy the experience of re-watching a movie, it's not a good reason to trash a new one.

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 6:36 p.m. CST

    Not a remake

    by BlueHawaiiSurfer

    This version isn't a remake of the 90's film, it's another adaptation of the short story. It would probably make more sense if anyone reviewing it bothered to become more familiar with the source material and stop comparing it to the 90's movie. It seems to be the problem of most reviews I've seen so far, not really singling out this effort.

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 8:31 p.m. CST

    This sucks because both the babes are brunettes

    by Drath

    How fucking hard is this? Evil hot girl is blond, good and smart girl is brunette. They've fucked up before they even started by getting two actresses that look alike in the trailers.

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 9:33 p.m. CST

    Do I have to be the first....

    by djtelesca

    ... To mention that I would do naughty things with either Kate or Jessica? I'm disappointed in all of you.

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 9:56 p.m. CST

    All this "girl

    by Autodidact

    I didn't even see it until it was out on video for a while, and that period of my life sucked.

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 9:56 p.m. CST

    "girl" BS.. creeps me the fuck out

    by Autodidact

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 11 p.m. CST

    Len Wiseman is ....

    by ColloquiallyBorn

    .... the new "bleh"! Man this guy doesn't impress time after time. He did a good movie with Underworld, but then milked it sour with his prequel and sequels.. Now he did this with creature designer Patrick Tatopoulos who basically re-vamped Stormtrooper outfits and took the flying car ideas from The Fifth Element.. These guys play it safe constantly. I still predict it's gonna fair well, but I don't see it as THE blockbuster event of the summer... far from it..

  • Aug. 4, 2012, 11:53 p.m. CST

    @jamf - no half in the bag is not worth watching

    by Charlie

    A lot of people miss the fact they are making fun of "film geeks" and their pointless nit picking , thinking they're experts. People don't get the joke, then treat them as authorities, while just using them as a guide as to what to think.

  • Aug. 5, 2012, 11:42 a.m. CST

    Hi Terry, I am ajit

    by ajit maholtra

    From where are you?