Saturday, April 20, 2013

Total Recall

Total Recall – First things first: this is not, strictly speaking, a remake. Both this movie and the previous one of the same name are loosely based on a short story by Philip K Dick. The credits for this one say “inspired by.”
So, I won’t compare this at all to the other, except to say that the three-breasted girl was better looking in this one.
This film was somewhat disappointing. Most of the best action sequences were in the trailer. It dragged oddly at the beginning – I suppose that was to establish the setting and characters, but it felt slower than it needed to be. The action sequences themselves, while generally well done, lacked excitement in places, and tended to be overly long: we’re having a car chase, great, this is fun; and, we’re still having a car chase; yep, still chasing; ooh, action, that was cool; still chasing… The effects were very nice, though.
The movie did have flashes of promise. There were a few great lines, and there were times when I felt like the filmmakers were ready to make a grand statement about the nature of humanity and how we fit into the world – but they didn’t. They created a setting that could have been – should have been – compelling, thought provoking, challenging. Then, instead of using that setting to its potential, they made a pretty good action film instead.
This film isn’t Blade Runner. It’s not A Scanner Darkly. It’s closer to Minority Report, but they did better than this. I think it’s what happens when you handle Philip K Dick limply, without the resolve to take the ideas along with the trappings and use them to make a mark on the world. This film will not leave a mark.
Footnote: I had to re-read my review of Snow White and the Hunstman in order to rank this movie, and was reminded of another thing I didn’t like about Total Recall: the heavy breathing. Honestly, I know that you need to show that your characters are working hard, and in danger, but there’s a limit to how many closeups of characters breathing heavily that I can handle.
Postscript: believe it or not, I still enjoyed this movie. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t a waste of time.

1. The Avengers
2. The Amazing Spiderman
3. Brave
4. The Cabin in the Woods
5. The Secret World of Arrietty
6. The Dark Knight Rises
7. Men in Black 3
8. Prometheus
9. Hunger Games
10. The Lorax
11. Snow White and the Huntsman
12. Total Recall
13. Mirror, Mirror
14. John Carter

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