Friday, August 10, 2012

Movie Review - Total Recall

Total Recall



Starring: Colin Farrel, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, Bill Nighy, John Cho, Will Yun Lee, and more.

Directed by: Len Wiseman Screenplay by: Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback Screen Story by: Ronal Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Jon Povill, and Kurt Wimmer Based On The Short Story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by: Philip K Dick Cinematography by: Paul Cameron Original Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams

Premise: A disillusioned man plagued by strange dreams decides to give the memory making thrill of Rekall a try. While being set up for his fantasy as a secret spy, things suddenly take a turn as armed men storm the room and kill everyone around him. When they try to grab him, he exhibits skills he's never known before and brings them all down. When he goes home, his wife of seven years then tries to kill him. Is he actually still at Rekall playing out his spy fantasy or is the horror his life has become real? (Rated R)

Review:

1) Acting - Thumbs Up: Colin Farrel was great as Douglas Quaid. You could feel his character's frustration at his lot in life even as he argued with himself he should be satisfied and grateful. At several spots Quaid is force to make hard choices, and the struggle to pick the right course reflected very well in Mr. Farrel's expressions and actions. Kate Beckinsale as Lori, however, stole the show. Her dogged, never ending determination and drive was a definite force in the film and came off the screen at the audience in waves.

2) Special Effects - Thumbs Up: A lot of the effects were very subtle, but definitely there. The palm phones were very cool and the options of private conversations or video conversations were impressive. Holographic imaging was everywhere. The glowing tattoos were super cool, too. The magnetic cars and all the security force androids felt real. The chase scene through the elevator tunnels and on the elevator cars was nicely done.

3) Plot/Story - Neutral: I saw the original "Total Recall" with Arnold Schwazeneger years ago, so not all the facts from the original were fresh in my mind during the viewing of the remake, but I still couldn't help notice a major deviation from then original right from the start - this version of the film is set on Earth rather than Mars. While that normally really wouldn't make much of a difference, in this instance it seemed like an odd change, especially as the new background premise made little sense. (If you have that many robots at your disposal, why aren't they out there cleaning the unsafe zone so humanity could expand?)

The core story is pretty solid - Quaid getting caught up in the middle of things he doesn't understand and trying to find out what is going on and following the clues left by his former self. But all the set up and information outside the core plot don't add up. Luckily, the film moves at a very fast pace, not allowing for the audience to spend a lot of time putting things together and realizing a lot of things don't quite fit together.

One example of what I'm talking about would be the Rekall shop at The Colony - located in the worst part of town, and advertising its presence solely by a small sign outside the door, inside the facility is huge! The room for setting up the experience was opulent and had a tremendous amount of space - something which the living conditions of everyone we'd seen up to that point made it seem incredibly unusual. The room even had a giant Buddha head (something which probably weighed tons). Yet if your clients are the low paid, crushed humanity of The Colony, how can they afford to go there? This was just one of many things that didn't quite fit.

4) Stunts - Thumbs Up: There was lots of tumbling, running, leaping, and hand to hand combat among explosions, car chases, careening elevator cars and more. All nicely done.

Conclusion: A fun, exciting ride as long as you don't think too hard and try to make sense of things. Also, if you've seen the original "Total Recall", there are several spots to look for giving homage to the 1990 film.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)


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