Just in case you didn't know, there was once a book called 'We can remember it for you wholesale', which was made into a movie in 1990 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was called Total Recall and was very popular. It was about a man called Douglas Quaid who pays to go on a virtual holiday as a spy to Mars, but as they're implanting the spy memory, they discover he's already a spy. Cue lots of running around on Mars, alien artefacts and literally eye popping special effects.
For this remake we fast forward (cough) twenty two years and now Colin Farrell is Quaid, Len Wiseman (Underworld, Die Hard 4) is directing and Kate Beckinsale is reprising the famous role of Quaid's wife. A mouth watering prospect with Farrell an action star who really can act. Wiseman really knows his action and we all know what Beckinsale can do in leather hotpants.
Visually Total Recall (2012) is stunning. It is one of the richest and deepest realised futuristic worlds I've ever seen. It pulls heavily on Blade Runner and Minority Report but carves a distinctive, grittier feel of its own. A superb backdrop for what turns out NOT to be a remake of the original movie but a re-imagining of Philip K. Dicks original story. There is no Mars here, no eye popping effects or ancient artifacts. Quaid now works in a factory building synthetic police, a job he commutes to across the planet in a shuttle that literally flies through the centre of the earth. But at night Quaid isn't sleeping, he dreams of being chased. When he goes to Recall the real memories are realised and mayhem ensues, practically non-stop to the final credits. Along the way Wiseman tips his hat to all the fan favourite moments of the original and to Minority Report and adds some very deft touches, including a hint of a future connection with James Bond.
Come the end my overriding sense was of confusion. The beginning was exposition heavy but then we barely had any story narrative at all to the end. I think the confusion came mostly from my expectation for what the movie would be over what it was. Something similar to what I felt walking out of Dark Knight Rises, I just didn't feel I had a grip on what happened. With Dark knight this was a problem resolved by watching it again. These two movies are the first times I've been aware of a movie taking me on a ride and not caring so much that I knew where I was going, because they knew I'd figure it out with subsequent viewings via one medium or another. That's smart modern movie making for my mind.
That said there are failings in Total Recall that time isn't going to fix. First up is the bad guy: Cohaagen, played by Bryan Cranston. He barely gets any screen time so his threat is mute. Matthias the rebel leader is played by Bill Nighy, but the impact was lost because, well, it was Bill Nighy. The cross world shuttle didn't have the gravitas that running around on Mars did. Throughout you get a sense this is very confident movie making that didn't quite fit into the two hour runtime. Except there was at least one major and fairly lengthy action sequence that seemed almost totally pointless. Maybe they ran out of edit time.
Total Recall is a movie I'll appreciate more with time. Unlike the superb Dark Knight Rises I suspect there is just too much here though that doesn't work for me to ever lose myself in a story well told. It felt more like a two hour trailer spotlighting the talents of Farrell, Beckinsale and Wiseman against a stunning CGI backdrop. Worth the admission for the visuals alone.
Hope this was helpful.
on 4 August 2015
Very good film. I watched and liked the original, and I watched and liked this remake just as much. Colin Farrell and Kate Bekinsale are both as watchable as ever..
Picture and audio quality is great - at least as far as a typical person like me (with a basic 42" HD TV and PS 3 bluray player) can tell.
Trying to watch the ultraviolet 'digital version' of the film is as fun as always. The UV code is in the box, so we're up and running. Get the laptop PC and log into the ultraviolet site and enter the code, which sends you to the sony entertainment site to ...... create an account, log in and enter the code again, which ..... redirects you to the Flixter site where you can create an account and log in and renter the code.again, which adds the film to your Flixter library. Apparently. So, put away the laptop, and back to the PS3 and TV. Look for the Flixter program for the PS3 and ..... the PS3 doesn't have Flixter. So I can't watch my UV version of my Sony film, authorised via the Sony entertainment site, on my Sony console. Great, so get the laptop PC, get the spare HDMI cable, attach the laptop to the TV, log into flixter and ..... its not there.
Every so often I try to watch the UV version of a film, then I remember why I don't. Ever get the feeling, they really really really really don't want you to be able to use those codes.
Thank goodness there was a bluray disc in the box too.
on 23 September 2012
If you go into this film not expecting much, primed by all the negative reviews, you will be pleasantly surprised.
Whilst it's very similar in storyline to the now-surprisingly-camp 1990 original (it is based on the same Philip K Dick story after all) it's totally different in look and feel. For a start its dour set designs are much more realistic of a dystopian future urban environment, instead of the simplistic Logan's Run style sets of Arnie's film. True, it's quite derivative, Blade Runner meets Minority Report with some I Robot thrown in, but it's bustling, intense, action packed and has enough original set pieces to call its own.
With car chases and fights to match Bourne, and twists and turns aplenty, this Total Recall never lets up as the ripped Colin Farrel's intense amnesiac spy races around trying to aid the Resistance's struggle against the Evil Corporation. If that wasn't difficult enough, he is hindered at every turn by scene-stealer Kate Beckinsale's homicidal wife and hard as nails counter spy. Beckinsale is superb (here playing both the Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside roles of the original), gleefully embracing her serious anger management issues as she shoots, punches and kicks her way all over the place.
Overall a completely different experience but this Total Recall is easily as good as the original, so ignore all the nay-sayers even if it's just to see Kate fight angry.
on 19 August 2014
Forget about the plot or whether or not it lives up to the Arnie version just consider the following premise...
Apparently in the future only 2 areas are safe - England and Australia. Connecting these 2 areas is a tunnel that somehow makes it possible to travel through the centre of the earth - you know, that mass of spinning metal as hot as the surface of the sun. And even better news, it only takes 17 minutes! And why does our faithful hero make the journey everyday? So he can work on a production doing repetitive manual labour making robots. Robots that are so sophisticated and advanced that they are trusted to serve as the police force. Er so if thats the case, why not just have robots making robots instead of sending people to the other side of the world everyday?
It all looks very futuristic but the story is weak, the characters one dimensional and the action is tedious because you never really care.
The more you see remakes of Arnie films, the more you realise what a sense of humour they were made with. Total Recall is a remake with Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel of the 1990 Schwarzenegger vehicle, itself based loosely on Philip K. Dick's We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. This film is visually stunning, has dramatically better action sequences, upgraded actors, and a substantially tighter premise. It's also utterly humourless, and the qualities of he actors show up the flatness of the characters. In trying to lift it from action romp to Blade Runner style dystopian SF, the remakers have done little more than expose the fact that there really isn't enough material in either Dick's short story or the 1990 original to make it worth the investment.
This is an exciting evening's viewing, and will probably be a lot better if you haven't seen the Schwarzenegger original, but it does not have enough in it to live in the imagination afterwards.
First the good points. There's a lot of Philip K Dick references scattered through this film. There are Blade Runner / Do Androids… style police 'synthetics', there is the glimmer suit from A Scanner Darkly, and a nicely Dickian geopolitical settlement, somewhat reminiscent of Radio Free Albemuth. Visually, the film takes in the gloss of Minority Report and also the dystopian underworld of Blade Runner. There is a realistic sheen to it which — with all the best will in the world — there never was in the 1990 version. As well as being faster and more extensive, the action sequences are supported by a real ability to feel pain (Arnie really never does more than wince). Farrell shows genuine dismay when killing, and Kate Beckinsale is a lot more plausible as a secret minder than Sharon Stone ever was.
The visuals really are extraordinary — the most compelling being, perhaps, the fleeting sight of Big Ben dwarfed among the dystopian London of The United British Federation. In a nice gesture to Mad Max, the only other place that has survived chemical apocalypse is Australia, now known as 'The Colony'. There are lots of visual gestures, such as Colin Farrell slumped over a grand piano like Harrison Ford in Blade Runner, a tune unlocking a secret, like The Lady Vanishes, the kill code for synthetics, reminiscent of the film I, Robot, a Dark Star-like lift sequence, and a two-person chasm jump like the one in the original Star Wars.
Setting everything on Earth improves the coherence of the adventure, with terrorism impacting Quaid/Hauser right at the beginning.
The film's fundamental problem, though, is that is neither romp nor art-SF. It's not a romp because it lacks the essential humour of any Arnie movie, or, for contrast, The Fifth Element or Star Trek: The Voyage Home. It's not art-SF, though, because it just explains everything far too much. Given that the original film has been on TV hundreds of times, it's a fair bet that most people understand the Recall premise without needing it explained. It's explained anyway. Quaid/Hauser explains himself to himself three times. Once would have been enough. No times at all would have been better. In the stand-off scene, where Quaid/Hauser is confronted with the question of what is real, the explanation of the dilemma goes on far too long. Even people who haven't seen the original will recognise the dilemma from the Matrix. It should be done in about half the time it took in the original film. Instead, the scene is twice as long.
Ultimately, it comes off as Total Recall, with all the fun polished out.
on 28 May 2015
Although this is still a Blu-Ray, so 1080p. If you have the correct Sony equipment it has hidden code telling your equipment how to scale to 4k.
I don't, but my 4k computer monitor scales it fine.... One thing I noticed (I have the normal Blu-Ray as well) is that the colours did seem much brighter in this version.
Choice of the 2, get the 4k mastered version even if you don't have 4k TV/ Monitor
on 31 May 2015
I know it looks dated now, but I was a great fan of the original & a little less than pleased that they had re-made it. What was the point I thought? The first wasn't that long ago that we'd forgotten, & albeit a good film, I wouldn't say it was an all time classic that just "had" to be re-made! However, after a recommendation from my son I decided to "get over it" & give the new one a chance. Very very glad I did, it is awesome. Totally different story, but made around the same premise of having your mind "altered" at Recall, now "Rekall" for the modern era! With a few nods to the original, it managed to give us a whole new, brilliant story, with astounding graphics & some really epic moments! So, if like me, you're on the fence about this one, not feeling the need to "totally recall" quite so soon after the original, just go for it, you won't be disappointed & you may even be very pleased you did! I'll certainly be watching it again!
on 18 August 2014
In contrast to the movie's title, only 3 weeks after renting it I can't recall anything about it. Nothing good, not even anything bad. Nothing exciting or boring, striking or flat, resonant or implausible, nothing at all. Like it never even happened. That has to mean something.
on 20 October 2012
set in a 'blade runner' world a charisma-free colin farrell gets chased by 'i-robot' robots whilst driving 'minority report' cars accompanied by a bland jessica biel and pursued by an overacting kate beckinsale reprising 'underworld'.
And this is supposed to be a total recall remake??
Knowing nods to the original just go to highlight how poor an effort this is.
The only thing I liked about this movie was the fact that it instantly made me go back and watch the original version again which surpasses it in every respect except visual effects, but I would rather watch a clearly rubber Arnie's eyes bulging out on Mars over a skillfully CGI rendered but unengaging and suspense-free chase sequence any day of the week.
Do yourself a favour and buy the original
on 11 September 2013
As a huge fan of PK Dick, I bought this despite terrible reviews to see how bad/good it was. A friend described it as totally unnecessary and I think I agree, it doesn't add anything to the concept of the Paul Verhoeven/Arnie film, but it loses quite a lot. There is no Mars, simply Australia as the oppressed workers and there is no sense of mystery about the final freeing the workers from this oppression. There are some great special effects and most of the performances are not bad, it just doesn't come together as film. My recommendation is to watch the Paul Verhoeven film again to remember how great it was or go for something new like Elysium, which does come together as a film.