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Total Recall (2012 film)

a movie directed by Len Wiseman

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A pointless recall. A wooden version of nothing that could have been something.

  • Aug 22, 2012
Do you know that moment when you're trying somethingDo you know that moment when you're trying something you loved as a kid and it leaves you a bitter feeling but still "forcing" yourself to like it just because it was the thing you grew up with? That's the same thing with this Total Recall and I might add that it's a bit weird that I say this since I'm not really one of the people who consider the original film a classic. Sure I loved it as a kid, sure it has an interesting premise and it's fun to watch, sure it's maybe even original, but I never could get over it's silliness and a above mediocre execution. I can see the original film being a near classic but nothing more. Maybe just a retro sci-fi film that still lives thanks to it's nostalgia. However, it's still a film that needed a remake but not quite this one.

So I went into this film with pretty much decent expectations. Not even those were met because they basically took the Total out of Total Recall so this movie ended up being just a recall. But a recall for what? For who? What's the purpose? I don't know an answer but I know you should never enter someone's home just because they have a nice house. This film has some really good effects and visually, it holds that required realism of today even though everything was living under a rain of ashes and black smog. And I get the decision behind that, I get what they wanted with this dark world but I think they went overboard with it. They didn't made it beautiful or exciting. It was just the bad boring way... 

What's missed the most is the lack of Mars. Where is that gloomy and dusty red planet we all fell in love with back in the day? That's what made Total Recall so melancholic and colorful. That's what gave the original that dreamy quality. This one left Mars somewhere in a portrait and decided to tell the story on Earth. Everything revolves around these two large lands that were livable and the fast train that connects them. One is the futuristic ghetto-favela-looking like Colony (situated in Australia), home of our protagonist Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), and the other is the United Federation of Britain which looks like it's ripped straight from the 2019 Los Angeles. A lot of Blade Runner elements induced in this film, though none of them serves a real purpose, none of them contributes to the story or to the already poorly development of these characters. They even have a piano scene that is a total throw back to Blade Runner as well. If you watch this film... you'll see a lot more elements taken from movies like Blade Runner and even games like Fallout 3, than from the original source material. Everything here is a downgraded recycled version of something that's already been done three times better. The even bigger problem is when you have to know where the action takes place since they just show you a short shot of the whole city like you're supposed to figure it out in a matter of 2-3 seconds which side of the planet you're on. A lot of things like these that really bugs the viewer. You already have a boring world, a soulless world, why making it even more complicated?

The rest of the story? It's basically the same fiasco only this time with more cherries near the end. Maybe they wanted to make it more dramatic, more surprising, more mind-fu... Argh. Maybe they just failed in doing whatever they wanted to do because nothing really makes sense in terms of story-progress and directorial decisions. The casting was better because there's more talented people involved. Besides Colin Farrell as Quaid there's Kate Beckinsale as his wife Lori, Jessica Biel as Melina (Quaid's "spy maid"), Bryan Cranston as Cohaagen (Minister of U.F.B), and Bill Nighy as Matthias (leader of the Colony). All actors that in a movie like this would work much better than most of the people involved in the original film. However, Colin Farrell didn't have Schwarzenegger's chemistry nor in-born confusion. Our old Arnold was completely lost in the world you couldn't end up but cheering for the guy. Colin Farrell just takes the role and walks with it till the designated end. I'm not saying he gave a bad performance but he didn't was naturally confused about everything around him. He always knew what to do. He always smartly backfired and so on. As for the ladies present in this film, I could dig Biel more than Beckinsale since I still think Sharon Stone is unmatchable in that role simply because she was so erotic, sweet, lovable, and dangerous at the same time. Beckinsale is only hot and dangerous. But I guess the comparison is not really fair when we're talking about the one actress that could have made the world starve for her in the 90s. 

The action scenes were decently executed, well choreographed. Could have been better but it was still a smooth and clean to look at. There are some problem of logic though in this film, issues that big that when you're watching them you can't hold but to burn your physics manuals and take a pill to stop the headache. The soundtrack was totally off. I haven't seen in a long time a movie like this where they will play the constant fast and bubbly song all the time. It was like start-long pause-start-long pause. There was no dynamic to the score. Everything in it added to the whole tediousness. I wanted something that I could really enjoy, I wanted that bubblegum I used to love as a kid but what I got is the new one which sucks because they changed the recipe. I wanted nostalgia, I wanted the red and the yellow, the dreams and the charming hero. I wanted all of this and all I got was a wooden version of nothing that could have been something. 

If you look at it from a different perspective, Total Recall is not that bad of a film if the original wouldn't have ever been made. Since that is impossible in our reality then this recall was for nothing. It was/is totally pointless. 

Storyline/Dialogue: 6.0
Acting: 6.5
Technical Execution: 7.1
Replay Value: 5.0

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September 20, 2012
Really good review! I think I still need to see it, but I like all of the thought you put into it. It's hard to imagine without schwartzenegger.
August 24, 2012
Good review, I gave this a 3.5/5. Liked your observations with Blade Runner and I knew there was something that MAY have been inspired by a video game. I was entertained by this one, not something that is essential, but Beckinsale stole the show for me.
More Total Recall (2012 film) reviews
review by . February 22, 2013
You may have noticed that recently, we've seen new movies from the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis. Things like this are usually coincidental, but after seeing the 2012 remake of Total Recall, I'm convinced that it was a result of all three of these iconic action stars also seeing that movie, getting fed up over the catatonic state of action movies today, and taking to the big screen once again to show today's pseudo-philosophical, overtly serious, shell-shocked …
review by . August 14, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
An Entertaining Action-Packed Remake with a Social Commentary
When I first heard of a “Total Recall” remake, I have to admit I was a little put off. I mean, how can someone remake one of Schwarzenegger’s action classics? I thought it would be an unnecessary remake, but then I watch anything with Kate Beckinsale and my curiosity had been aroused after I saw the trailers.      Remakes are surely meant to apply the premise to a more modern audience, to expand on its premise and perhaps improve on the original. There are a …
review by . August 20, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         I could turn this review of Total Recall into a debate over which version of the film is better, but unless there are obvious gaps in idea, execution, and quality, I refrain from approaching remakes on that level. Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 film of the same name had particular traits that made it entertaining, and the same can be said for the 2012 reboot. I’m most appreciative of the one element common to both films, namely the concept of …
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Julian Left ()
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