Film: Total Recall

Just been to see the remake of the film Total Recall.

Stop reading now if you havent seen it as there are spoilers below.

I was expecting a mildly entertaining action movie that could have been entitled “Total Remake”, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. I like the original Total Recall film, and like some of the cheesy humour it has in it.

The first and obvious points to note are that the: background is totally different; and the technology is radically more advanced. However, the basic plot is there.

In fact the second point is often unnoticed these days. The science fiction from pretty much the 1980’s and before has been over taken in many ways. Ok, we don’t have warp drives or stuff, but the day to day computing technology is way in advance, and the use of hand held digital phones, PDAs, tracking devices and so on are unrecognisable with yesterday’s science fiction.

The background is very different – it’s not set on Mars. The colony is now the remains of Australia (Freemantle IIRC). There is a lot of back story that doesn’t get a lot of air time and I’d hope any DVD pack would fill us in on some of this, but it basically seems a series of NBC wars have rendered habitable areas limited. So there is a struggle between the United Federation of Britain, and the Colony with Quaid/Hauser the double agent which matches the first film.

There was at least one blatant hat tip to the original film, which I won’t spoil for you, but did make me want to laugh, and the high proportion of Asiatic culture was also a h/t to both Blade Runner and Firefly, but also a healthy dose of Russian/East European culture as well.

The SFX were good, and whilst some of the protracted sequences were a bit wearing, they were interspersed with a goodly dose of scenes driven by dialogue and proper acting (Bill Nighy criminally under used). There were only a couple of points when I wanted to slap the main protagonists[*] – NO YOU DO NOT WAIT TO HAVE A SMOOCH AT THE END OF A NEAR ESCAPE WHEN THE EVIL PERSON IS WATCHING YOU AND CAN PROBABLY SHOOT YOU. Quite by co-incidence today’s Torygraph has a good article about how Hollywood’s obsession with SFX is detrimental to the overall film making experience. I prefer films with good dialogue, a decent plausible plot, good acting over and above a violent adrenaline rush of chases and explosions. This is why I like films like The Big Sleep, Schindlers List and so on that contain few if any action scenes and/or SFX.

Minor annoyance, the evil troops are ‘synthetics’…robots…and bear more than a passing resemblance to Star Wars’ Stormtroopers.

Apart from the evil evil evil one that is the bodyguard to Cohaagen…(think The Black Hole…)

I think we’ve moved on a bit from there.

This remake I think was a good one – not the best – but certainly worthy of lasting attention. I may be wrong, but I think I’ll get the DVD for further watching if I can’t catch it in the cinema again. Thinking about it, its like comparing the original series of BSG, with the remake. Each has its +/-s, each is unique, and each is enjoyable for those reasons.

I also recommend getting VIP seats in cinemas. Have been in them three times now, and the whole experience is much better. Being a tall guy, I need the leg room, don’t want to crane my neck upwards etc…ok I’m getting picky in my old age…bah humbug…

One thing that did shock me though, and it has nothing to do with the film, was the large number of clearly under-age children in the cinema. This is not a gross out film by any means (sexually, linguistically or in terms of violence), but it really is not suitable for kids who looked no more than 8.

[*] Whereas within 15 minutes of watching Speilberg/Cruise’s remake of “War of the Worlds” I wanted the entire family to die very very quickly. Painfully.