06 August 2012
Total Recall (2012) Review
Went to see the remake of Total Recall today. Find out how it compares to the original, after the break. As usual, BEWARE POTENTIAL SPOILERS.
So here's the deal: The remake changed a lot of story elements, but that doesn't necessarily make it bad.
In the original, Quaid (Schwarzenegger) had always wanted to go to Mars, and when he did, he found a world populated with mutant psychics and a man who controlled the air supply. Then he went on a mission to turn on the alien machine which created an atmosphere for Mars.
In the remake, they never go to Mars. There are no psychics. Instead, the Earth has been mutilated by chemical warfare, and only two safe places remain: England and "The Colony" (Australia). And workers commute from the Colony to England by taking a transit through the center of the Earth.
The other story elements are mostly the same - disguises, double agents, is this a dream or is it real questions, stuff like that. But instead of a guy who controls air, the bad guy in this starts blaming the Colony for Resistance attacks and plans to decimate it with his army of Robo-cops. So Quaid has to stop an invasion instead of an asphyxiation.
I did like the actors for this: Colin Farrell did a good job, and Kate Beckinsale was a wonderful terror-bitch wife/not-actually-his-wife secret agent kickass. Jessica Biel was a decent love interest - not much attention was paid to character development for her. And Bill Nighy (I'm always a fan of Bill Nighy) was a cool, if short-lived Resistance leader Matthias (who is not a mutant in this one - remember, no mutants now).
The remake was of course, given a CGI buff-up from the original. Lots of awesome car chases and holographics and cell phones implanted in hands and incandescent tattoos. It was a much shinier, 2012 version. You can tell, cause of the intentional lens flares. It's a style this decade is cursed with.
The fights were faster and smoother than the original, though not as gory. The original was filled with blood spraying everywhere. On the contrary, the remake shows almost no blood until the knife fight at the climax.
Also, the gravity shift thing while going through the center of the Earth was a bit strange, and I'd have to check with the physics guys to see if that's how it would work, but it made for very cool, almost certainly Inception-inspired zero-gravity fighting.
Now back to my original statement - that because they changed story elements it doesn't make it bad. The original Total Recall was released in 1990. And now it's 2012. We focus on different social dilemmas now, and the remake emphasizes those: over-reliance on technology, economic stratification and segregation, and the role of government.
It's not without flaws - it didn't leave much time for characters (except the piano bit, that was nice), and it felt rather flat. And the director must've had some obsession with people jumping off of high places in slow motion, cause it happened about every five minutes.
BUT it's a decent remake, aimed at our time rather than the original's. And I think that's an interesting point to think about with remakes - whether they keep their original time's messages, or rework themselves to apply to today's.
Anyway, it was pretty and fun, so as a summer flick, I was pleased. Watch the old and the new one if you get the chance, it's an interesting comparison.