Film & Television

A Tale of 2 Recalls: Total Recall Movie Review

By Marcus Macleod
So here we go again, another remake, how lazy, but wait… this one isn’t bad…is it?

This movie had its work cut out for it, trying to revive a classic like total recall was a tall order. Lets find out if it pulled it off.

We start with a Plot that seems the same at first, Douglas Quade (Colin Farrell) wanting to visit mars, talk of Rekall, the place where they implant memories into your brain, a three boobed hooker making you wish you had three hands. It starts the doubt creeping in early that this is going to be a lazy copy. It’s not, it’s thankfully a curve ball.

With planet Earth only having two places left that are inhabited after a chemical war, we are made aware that the UK, now the United Federation of Britain and Australia now the Colony are the two places that are the main structure of the modern world, linked together through a transport tunnel that passes through the earths core.

The comparisons between this movie and the original are obviously going to be made by everyone, that’s what happens when you remake a popular film like this. One thing i was surprised about though was how this film compared visually to 80’s classic, Blade Runner.
It must be said that the Visuals in this Film are stunning, with nice simulated camera lens flares (over used) and vast city landscapes with an “old manky tech” feel that all good futuristic 80’s films had, you know, futuristic stuff that looks beaten up like white grubby space ship stuff from Alien etc. Old manky tech, i love it.
The reference to Blade Runner is more than just a passing one, From the multi layered mega city to the dark and rainy China town with people wearing clear plastic rain coats ala Zorah’s wardrobe (the replicant snake woman). All this film is missing is a noodle bar with a neon light forked tongued dragon with Gordon Strachan drinking tea under it. (see the video from 15-30 seconds) for it to be a Blade Runner remake too!

There is also a Star Wars influence at play here with the white and black robots looking a lot like Storm Troopers. There is even a cool all black evil one. You take your influences where you can and I see it as more of a tip of the cap to those movies the film makers are fans of. If you are a fan too then it is pretty enjoyable to sit back and soak it up. Technically it’s a rip off, but who cares, you knew that going in, it’s a remake after all.

Staying with the visuals for a moment, its worth mentioning that the set design and interaction with it is very well thought out, notably the chase scene from the apartment with Kate Beckinsales character Lori and Farrell’s Character, Quade. The three-dimensional chase through houses and over balconies is great and really shows the set design off.

In Beckinsale’s performance of Lori, Douglas Quades Wife, we see a stellar performance of a betraying baddy who is a stone cold killer not to be messed with. She makes good use of her various ascents switching from American to English to showcase her talents. It takes things up a notch from the Sharon Stone version, although no leotard this time, shame.

Quades Parter in crime for this movie, like the original is of course Melina, Played by Jessica Biel. Although upstaged by Beckinsale’s strong performance Jessica does enough to get by in an action role she is by now familiar with. The charisma and character development of the 1990 Melina isn’t really here though.

Completing the old cast is of course Johnny Cab, no im just kidding, its Vilos Cohaagen, played by Malcolm in the Middle actor Bryan Cranston. This time Cohaagen is a Chancellor of the Colony in this more political role in this more political film.

It is here that you get down to the real difference of the two films, the remake just doesn’t give you the same connection with the characters as the first one. The cheesy lines and the gore and humour is what warmed you to the original. It’s missing in this remake, it’s a film without soul and Farrell, although good, fails to have the same like-ability as Arnie did.

The remake is good, i don’t want to hate on a film that entertained me, it’s a stunning film to look at and has some great action scenes but it says original and best on stuff for a reason, originals normally are better. At least with this they waited a respectable 22 years, so it’s not the worst example of a modern remake about. It shows anything is fair game though, what’s next? A new Blade Runner?

In short, it’s a visual delight that is a tin man remake, no heart. It may be nostalgia talking but that’s what you’re going to get with a film like Total Recall.

Total Recall gets 3.5 Leafs out of 5

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