Total Recall

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Total Recall is the newest film to contribute to the ever growing recent string of remakes and sequels in Hollywood. In other words about a year ago a studio exec thought, “Man, wasn’t that movie with the three tits awesome. We should do that again. Except replace Schwarzenegger with a bland and charmless lead and take away all of the fun. Yeah, that’s a recipe for success. How could that possibly fail?” Well, I’m here today to tell you that, surprise, it fails. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.

In theory this movie could have worked. It’s built on an intriguing premise borrowed from a Philip K Dick short story, which usually leads to at least something of interest happening, and part of me thought Colin Farrell had redeemed himself as an actor after his great performance in In Burges. However, even the genius of Philip K Dick cannot save this film from its innumerable problems.

I could understand this film’s existence if there was any genuine creativity or at least a solid execution behind it all, but as far as I can see there’s an astounding lack of anything here. It’s like a flat boring field filled with nothing but an occasional plot hole to draw the eye. The action scenes that are supposed to titillate and excite do nothing but move the plot forward. Sure, we know there was a gunfight, but do we care? The characters are no better. They start the film boring and charmless and end it in just the same way. This definitely isn’t helped by the flat performances given throughout the film. Even the normally great actors here, like Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy, give droll and bland efforts. I can only imagine the script was too poor for even a master like Cranston to work with.

Unfortunately, the only redeeming aspect of this wholly disappointing work is the setting it ripped off from Blade Runner, an infinitely superior movie. However, that’s even somewhat mitigated by the fact that the film spends most of its time giving it a blind eye in favor of its insipid plot and two dimensional characters. I guess I could also say the premise itself is interesting, but it’s never really explored other than to hint at possible plot twists. Everything of substance that could have possibly been drawn from this idea was completely glossed over and ignored.

Total Recall’s problem isn’t that it’s offensively written or that it’s horrendously executed. No, in many regards it’s very adequate. It’s main problem is that it’s just flavorless. There’s nothing here to engage me, to make me go wow or even oh. It’s a nothing, fluff that barely even registers. It baffles me as to why this even exists in the first place. I can only assume that someone must have really like those tits.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

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24 thoughts on “Total Recall

    • Gabriel Vogel August 7, 2012 / 5:40 pm

      Thanks. It seems like you pretty much agree with me. It’s just such a dull movie.

  1. mkaiserman August 7, 2012 / 5:53 pm

    While you are a little harsher than I am, maybe I am just fooling myself. They took out all the fun from the 1990 movie (and even from the short story) and left us with flying cars and elevators and lots of broken glass. My review: http://ramakblog.com/2012/08/06/do-you-rekall/

    • Gabriel Vogel August 7, 2012 / 6:30 pm

      Yeah, I was really disappointed by it. It really doesn’t need to exist.

  2. blackceezar August 7, 2012 / 6:19 pm

    Every movie wants to be gritty and Total Recall was a movie they didn’t need to be remade and really shouldn’t have been made to be so dry. I knew this was going to be a fail. nice review

  3. dbmoviesblog August 7, 2012 / 7:24 pm

    You said that you found this film ‘flavourless’, which means that there is nothing ‘special’ in it, and I totally agree. It is a remake, but my personal opinion is that this particular film would have been a really great blockbuster and maybe even the movie of the year – say 10 years ago? That would have been nice, but now…post-Matrix, post-Inception period, with everyone wowing about The Dark Knight Rises , this film, in comparison, of course, looks rather dull, and probably will only be bought by collectors of action films. And, to be honest, the trailer does not even engage on the same level as ‘Skyfall’ trailer does.

    • Gabriel Vogel August 8, 2012 / 1:07 am

      Yeah, you might be right. Back in the aughts this probably would have been much more impressive, but right now it’s severely lacking.

  4. leeshausoftherisingsun August 8, 2012 / 12:49 am

    I could see that this was going to be vanilla from the very start, what a shame it has failed to do anything new…

    • Gabriel Vogel August 8, 2012 / 1:34 am

      Yeah, this was a huge disappointment on pretty much every level.

  5. drewpan August 8, 2012 / 1:43 am

    I’m really curious as to why the film got such a big push. I think the studios must’ve known it was going to suck, and the Internet buzz was so bad… and why oh why did it have teaser trailers for it’s trailers?

    • Gabriel Vogel August 8, 2012 / 2:53 am

      I think the studios just have a very low opinion of their customers. They believe we are idiots who are satisfied by anything as long as there are explosions and tits. We are not, and now they’re suffering for it.

      • drewpan August 8, 2012 / 2:56 am

        Are they really suffering? Let’s wait till the box office tallies come in before we decide not to facepalm ourselves.

      • Gabriel Vogel August 8, 2012 / 3:04 am

        Yeah, they even lost the weekend to the Dark Knight Rises. Total Recall only made 26 million of it’s 125 million dollar budget.

      • drewpan August 8, 2012 / 3:08 am

        Hahaha! But you know who else is losing out other than movie fans? The VFX people who slavishly made something that looks good for someone that stubbornly wanted them to make something look bad.

        That long flying-camera shot in the trailer where Colin Farrell kills all the Mass Effect robots in Rekall is such a poorly-conceived shot!

      • Gabriel Vogel August 8, 2012 / 3:29 am

        At least they have work, but it’s a shame that all that work has to go into something so lackluster.

  6. cross(stitch)yourheart August 8, 2012 / 2:34 pm

    It makes me sad that the studios are taking movies as campy as the original “Total Recall” and turning them into bland action/adventure flicks. It was, at least for me, the pure sci-fi if a little cheesy quality of the original that made it such a good movie. Well, that combined with actors who were willing to go all in with their roles.

    Even with this movie failing as much as it did I have a feeling we aren’t in for the last of the sci-fi turned action/adventure remakes. I have a sinking feeling they’ll be after “The Fifth Element” next…anything with a cult following studios think they can get to turn mainstream.

    • Liz C. August 8, 2012 / 8:01 pm

      It is really depressing to see so many great movies turned into generic Hollywood moneymaking drones. I don’t really get it; in the past, when someone wanted to make an easy buck, they would re-release movies, which would be a million times more preferable than a remake of “The Thing” or “Footloose.” I’d love to see “Total Recall” on the big screen! Well, the good one, anyway.

      • Gabriel Vogel August 9, 2012 / 7:18 am

        Yeah, that would be infinitely preferable to most of these recent remakes. Maybe, if a couple more of these films fail then they’ll learn their lesson, but unfortunately unless something drastic like that arises I don’t foresee that happening.

      • cross(stitch)yourheart August 9, 2012 / 4:43 pm

        I agree totally. I’d much rather see them re-release the original “Total Recall” even if they did make it 3D and charge whatever it is a ticket (like $10-12/person?) than ruin a classic by remaking it.

  7. ergohence August 9, 2012 / 8:48 pm

    Though it doesn’t seem like it could be remade without dramatic changes to the plot with all it’s twists, it does seem reasonable to try, based simply on how the genre has evolved. Classics have always been remade given enough time and while I like the original Total Recall, I think it could have benefited from a face lift in the hands (or mind) of someone more capable. I haven’t seen the new film, but I gather it should have been helmed by someone who would take ownership of PKD’s ideas rather than just do a send up to Ridley Scott’s Dick adaptation without the nuance that made Bladerunner work.
    An interesting notion that could have been explored in the new film is how much programming Quaid went through to sympathize with the colonists. Did they just really on his sense of decency, or did they need to give him a push. Maybe the full story isn’t so melodramatic. A flashy set doesn’t impress me unless what is happening on it is worth watching. Otherwise I can just look out a window, or paint a picture. a picture of innumerable tits.

  8. my website August 10, 2012 / 5:13 am

    I still prefer the original to the new version of this movie. Arnold was actually good in it.

  9. Tommy D August 14, 2012 / 4:54 am

    I wasn’t even in love with the original, so I haven’t even bothered to see this one. We need more originality and less remakes/sequels in film.

  10. Gregoryno6 August 18, 2012 / 9:25 pm

    I would say that Hollywood’s reached the point where anything more than 20 years old is worth a remake – but the latest Spiderman flick would put the lie to that.
    TR2’s main qualification for existence appears to be more bigger and shinier special effects.

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