Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Total Recall is a total disaster.
The formula is quite simple: Take a cult-classic film (or TV show) from the past, and keep only the bare-bone plot essentials intact. Use some of the same characters and re-imagine some of the key scenes just to appease the hard-core fans of the original. Then sprinkle in bits of well-known dialogue, and you have yourself a sure-fire money-making blockbuster.
This method is used over and over again, and it is one of the worst trending ideas that Hollywood has ever come up with. Sometimes it is a success - take the recent 21 Jump Street film - but more often it is a complete and utter failure: Think Clash of the Titans or Dark Shadows.
The truth is, there has never been more evidence that Hollywood is out of new ideas, and the latest round of proof comes in the form of Total Recall, a re-make of the 1990 sci-fi film from director Paul Verhoeven (Showgirls, Robocop, Basic Instinct) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone. That film wasn't perfect, but it was iconic and ground-breaking. Based on a very cool concept introduced in the short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Phillip K. Dick, who could forget Arnold pulling a tracking device out of his nose, his fat-lady disguise malfunctioning in an airport checkpoint, or meeting the lady with three breasts?
That film was violent and graphic, and this new Total Recall film - now with a more accessible PG-13 rating - is watered down in more ways than one. It is still recognizable as Total Recall, if only barely. Where the first film lingered on the 3-breasted lady, this one includes but a quick flash. Where people bled in the first film when shot, this film leans more towards video-game violence.
As the story goes, it is the distant future and Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is having a reoccuring dream. He visits a company called "Rekall," who specializes in implanting fake memories into people's brains...hey, it's cheaper to have an implanted family vacation than to actually go on one. As the procedure is taking place, something goes horribly wrong, and Quaid finds himself in the middle of an bloody war, where he is being chased and referred to as Hauser. The fun comes in not knowing what is Quaid/Hauser's reality, and what may be an implanted memory.
Where the first film made sense in and of itself, the new film is a garble of half-ideas and lazy regurgitations. Arnold's Quaid was lured into the serene and normal-seeming Rekall offices, but in this new post-apocalyptic take, the Rekall office is a dark and dingy place located above the slums of an inner-city. Aaah, the perfect setting sure to convince people to pay to have their minds messed with.
Kate Beckinsale plays Quaid's wife, so fans of the original know how that turns out. Here she is a mean fighting machine, who is super-pissed. Why? We're not really sure.
The new Total Recall is a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy, barely resembling the original and at a much worse quality. It's sad that in 1990, there was still a vision of our future that didn't involve an apocalypse here on Earth.
Has Hollywood seriously ran out of fresh ideas? Why are we still asking this question? Just take a look at Total Recall and you'll find the answer.
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Run Time: 1 hour 58 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy, Bokeem Woodbine
Directed by Len Wiseman (Underworld, Underworld: Revolution, Live Free or Die Hard)
Opens locally on Friday, August 3rd, 2012
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