Reboot sticks to plot, but with effects

19:10, Sep 09 2012

Total Recall. Starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel; directed by Len Wiseman

Some films should never be remade. One of my top 10 movies (I can't commit to a top five) is The Karate Kid released in 1984, featuring the wonderful Pat Morita as the wise Mr Miagi who teaches the eager Daniel Laruso played by an adorable Ralph Macchio. As far as I'm concerned the remake with Jackie Chan and Will Smith's son never existed.

However, I was conflicted when I heard that the 1990 Arnie classic Total Recall was to be remade. A futuristic story about two conflicting factions, fighting for survival could actually work. Dystopic cultures are the current craze, especially in the young adult book world and the special effects available during the 1990s cannot compare to what is available now.

I was happy to see that in essence, this remake tells the same story as its original with a few subtle changes. Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is frustrated with his life, is having the same, vivid dream each night and feels there is something missing. He feels that a visit to Total Recall, a company that implants memories into your head of your choosing to improve your state of mind, is in order. However, the procedure goes wrong, forcing Quaid to realise the truth about his identity.

The Earth of the future this film displays is impressive and incredibly detailed. Some scenes made me want to reach for the pause button, so I could examine every inch of frame that filled the screen. The clean, slate feel of the 1990 film is gone and replaced with a gritty and crowded atmosphere, which gave a more realistic feel than Arnie's world.

Homages to the original Total Recall are scattered throughout this film. My favourite was a lady resembling the disguise worn by Arnie in a security checkpoint who went up to a desk saying “two weeks”. Fans of the original film will understand this reference.

The action sequences, although impressive to watch, were drawn out and became boring after about a minute. Although the dialogue was good, I preferred the cheesy one liners that Arnie gave in the original, which were straight to the point using as few words as possible.

I also wondered why this remake wasn't released in 3D as it would have been visually awesome. The cityscapes would have looked even more remarkable with depth added and the action sequences may have been more interesting.

Overall, this version of Total Recall wasn't too bad and I can understand why it was remade, considering improvements in technology. However, I still remain wary of the remake craze, believing they are unnecessary, most of the time, and I can only hope that classics like The Goonies and Back to the Future are never considered as they are perfect as they are.


The Southland Times