The Box Office Season 2 Episode 23 – Total Recall

Total Recall

We’ll remember it for you wholesale. Phillip K. Dick’s original story got made into a movie once again, but this time rather than going the campy Arnold/Verhoven route, they attempted to make it more of a serious action thriller. Well they got one thing right at least. This new one is an action movie, and little more. They left out most of the substance that made the story so great, in hopes that flying car chases and robots are what make for successful films, and not a well crafted story to go along. But what do I know, oh wait, I know that the best story in theaters right now is The Dark knight rises, and I know that is has already made over 300 million dollars.

Now, disappointed as I am in this version of Total Recall, I can say that I am surprised. Len Wiseman, the films director, is known for making shallow, albeit enjoyable, action movies. His last on screen shoot’em up was a little movie call Live Free or Die Hard. Not the greatest movie, but passable popcorn fair. I’m not mad at him for making Total Recall this way, it’s all he knows and why they hired him. I’m angry at the people that chose him to do it. This means they thought the property wasn’t worth exploring past a surface glance, they thought, “ oh we just have your generic sci fi movie, lets just make your generic sci fi movie.” I hate that.

I hate the cowardice that studios are showing these days when it comes to science fiction. Not everything has to be STAR WARS! Take a look at Ridley Scott; here is a director who isn’t afraid to make quality movies out of this kind of world. In fact Blade Runner is a Phillip K. Dick story!!! (Do androids dream of electric sheep) So why not give it to him? Let him make that a quality, thrilling sci fi epic that it has always had the potential to be?! Well C’est la vie, let’s deal with the matter at hand.

What did this movie do right? Well production design was pretty strong; the sets were actually built a lot of the time, and looked pretty cool, not unlike Blade Runner and Fifth Element. The actors were well chosen in their roles, Farrell and Beckinsale being the stand out performances. I have always felt Colin Farrell to be a good actor who in between great roles (In Bruges, Ondine) likes to make money. So he will go and make Fright Night, or SWAT, or Horrible Bosses, and I am still inclined to forgive him for it. Again, he is a good actor, and it shows in Total Recall, unfortunately i also felt like his skill were restrained.

While the character of Q Horrible Quaid is the most complex in the film, its still restricted by the fact that this is a action movie first, and a science fiction story second. So any chance of a deep character exploration is taken away by robot battles, which is really too bad. Now the one person who thrives in this sort of movie environment, is the bad ass Kate Beckinsale. From all the Underworld films, to Van Helsing, to Much Ado About Nothing. Well, maybe not that last one.This is an actress that can kick ass and look good doing it. If you remember the first film back in 1990, this role was played by Sharon Stone, back when she was hot and not crazy. Beckinsale is ten times that sexy, and 10 times more talented, so her role in this is a lot of fun to watch, especially since she beats the crap out of every character on screen. But the other supporting roles were good as well, like I said, it was cast right.

I personally really liked Bryan Cranston as the villainous Cohaagen, and Bill Nighy for his good, but far to short turn as the rebellion leader Mathias. Jessica Biel? Eh, she was good, but she pales in comparison to Beckinsale, who is infinitely more sexy in my opinion.

The Bottom Line:

All in all, the action was decent, but like I said earlier Wiseman knows how to do it, so while its worth a few dollars for that alone I don’t recommend a full price viewing. Matinee all the way! Its enjoyable but miss-able, my advice is go see batman again.

Until next time…


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