Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Total Recall - Maybe they could help me with my memory problem

The beginning of this post would be a good place to compare the current Total Recall to the Total Recall from 1990.  Except there’s a problem…I can’t remember much about the original.  I guess I need Rekall Inc. to help me remember the movies I’ve seen.  That’d be cool.  I do remember the original being comically over-the-top.  I remember faces changing or melting or something.  And of course I remember the lady with the 3 boobs.  But that’s about it.  I’m a purist by nature and feel Hollywood should leave well-enough alone.  The only reason to remake a film, when one gets right down to it, is money.  There was no reason to remake Psycho but they did and they blew it.  There was no reason to remake Karate Kid but they did and they actually didn’t blow it (though the title is wrong since he learns kung-fu but I’m splitting hairs).  There was no reason to remake any number of movies but it won’t stop so quit your whining.  (I’m speaking to myself here too.)  I understand wanting to leave movies alone, even if they’re goofy, sci-fi classics.  But I also kinda understand wanting to offer up a different version of something, especially if it was a goofy sci-fi classic.  I’ll tell you my rule of thumb…never see a remake without seeing the original first.

So what I do know about the original is that it was directed by Paul Verhoeven and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone.  Mr. Verhoeven is known for such cinematic genius as Showgirls and Starship Troopers.  Ok, the director of the current Total Recall, Len Wiseman (aka Mr. Kate Beckinsale), isn’t much better (two Underworld movies and Die Hard 4) so we can’t really compare the directors.  I will say that I liked the world that Wiseman created better.  I also appreciate that he took a movie that was goofy and tried to give it some gravity.  I’ve read the Phillip K. Dick short story, “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale,” on which the original is based and the Schwarzenegger version is closest to that source material because of one thing…Mars. But that's all I'm gonna say about that.
So what did we end up with in this version of Total Recall?  Well first off the effects were way better.  And as I mentioned earlier, the world created for this film was pretty cool looking.  It was dark and dismal and I can see why Colin Farrell’s character, Doug Quaid, longed for something more.  Speaking of, the story is this: Doug Quaid, factory worker and husband to Kate Beckinsale’s Lori, dreams of escaping his boring life. Doug finds himself at Rekall, the place that implants memories of a bigger, more interesting life.  The only problem is, Doug had a bigger, more interesting life or did he?  No, he did.  So he spends the rest of the film trying to figure out who he was and why his wife is trying to kill him. Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston are in it too and both try to pull Doug to their side of the scuffle.

If it were a better movie it would have gone into the whole 'struggling with identity' thing but it wasn’t so they didn’t.  I guess they didn’t have enough time, what, with all the shooting and running and stuff.  The acting was what you’d expect from an action film.  I do so love Farrell and will never hold these types of movies against him when I’ve seen things like Ondine and In Bruges.  Biel I can take or leave.  She just doesn’t do it for me.  Beckinsale is fine and really the best thing about her and, honestly, the best thing about this film was her hair.  She has the best freaking hair!  Plus it flew around all slo-mo style as she’s chasing Farrell down.  I covet her hair.
If it were a better movie they may have addressed some of the logical issues, like how the un-breathable air stays away from the inhabitable part of the city.  But it’s not a better movie.  It’s a fun, action flick perfect for summers.  So go, enjoy Kate Beckinsale’s hair on the big screen and try telling me I’m wrong about it being the best part of the film.

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