Call me crazy but I went to see Total Recall anyway. I had heard much of the hype, knew the stars and heck, I just love science fiction, so I decided to fork over the price of a ticket and at least check out the special effects which I had been given to understand were, well, special. Besides, I knew the Schwarzenegger vehicle so I just had to compare. Oddly enough or crazily enough, I found the film to be better than all the bad reviews it got. I checked and Roger Ebert gave it three stars out of four which is certainly a better recommendation than the average on Rotten Tomatoes of 31%.
Considering the budget of this remake was twice that of the original 1990 film, it does an impressive job on the special effects. The futuristic cities are well done and very reminiscent of the rainy urbanscape of Blade Runner. Gee, in thinking of Blade Runner or even The Matrix, is it always going to rain in the future? I understand that rain gives a certain feel, a certain atmosphere to the setting but it seems to rain a lot. Then again, maybe it was just the monsoon season.
While this film is touted as a remake, there are number of significant changes to the plot which would have the original author Philip K. Dick scratching his head. I am sometimes puzzled over the changes film makers introduce as if they can't resist "improving" in air quotes the author's work. Of course, I see this new film could not drop the amusing but bizarre encounter between our hero and the hooker with three breasts. She throws open her coat to show her wares and says, "You'll wish you had three hands." Do we all chuckle at that one?
Philip K. Dick
Both movies are based on the 1966 short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick (1928-1982). The life of this science fiction writer is unto itself an interesting story as this gentleman seems to have lived all his life in near poverty. How many "artists" per se benefit monetarily from their own talents during their lifetime? I am sure if Dick were alive now, he would be far better off than he was. I see that in the past 30 years since his death a number of notable films based on his work have been made including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, and The Adjustment Bureau. Philip would be a rich man today.
By the numbers
The following compares the original 1990 film and this latest remake. Better? Worse? The ratings probably say it all.
Total Recall (1990)
Budget: $60 million
Gross: $261 million (worldwide)
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Total Recall (1990)
Budget: $125 million
Gross: to be determined (released Aug 3/2012)
Rotten Tomatoes: 31%
Personally I found the film to be better than the dissing it got as represented by the rating of 31% on Rotten Tomatoes. I enjoyed all the actors, the action sequences, and the special effects. As I've said with some other films, this isn't art per se, this is good cinematic craftsmanship and there's nothing wrong with that. You want an entertaining couple of hours to go along with your popcorn and such entertainment doesn't always have to make you think and elevate your soul.
So I will say it's worth a look, maybe a Saturday night DVD rental or maybe an On Demand service over the Net. And if you do like science fiction, then yes, you must have a gander if only to compare it with Arnie.
Rotten Tomatoes: Total Recall (2012): 31%
While it boasts some impressive action sequences, Total Recall lacks the intricate plotting, wry humor, and fleshed out characters that made the original a sci-fi classic.
Wikipedia: Total Recall
Total Recall is a 2012 American science fiction action film remake of the 1990 film of the same name, in turn loosely based on the 1966 short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick. Unlike the original film and short story, the plot for the 2012 film does not include a trip to Mars, and exhibits more political overtones. The film blends Western and Eastern influences, most notably in the settings and dominant populations of the two nation states in the story: the United Federation of Britain, and The Colony.
Wikipedia: We Can Remember It for You Wholesale
"We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" is a short story by Philip K. Dick first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in April 1966. It features a melding of reality, false memory and real memory. The story was the subject of two film adaptations, Total Recall in 1990, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and an identically-titled 2012 remake of that film, which featured Colin Farrell.
Wikipedia: Philip K. Dick
Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose published work is almost entirely in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments, and altered states. In his later works Dick's thematic focus strongly reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology. He often drew upon his own life experiences in addressing the nature of drug abuse, paranoia, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences in novels such as A Scanner Darkly and VALIS.
In addition to 44 published novels, Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime. Although Dick spent most of his career as a writer in near-poverty, ten popular films based on his works have been produced, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, and The Adjustment Bureau. In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the one hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.
Published on Mar 29, 2012 by ArnoldNationCom
Total Recall (1990)
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