My recollection is a little hazy since I first strapped myself in to Planet Fanboy's glowing chair of imagination (it reclines!) but, looking at this week's hot trailer, I have this nagging feeling that I've seen this "Total Recall" film before. Or at least something like it. I can't put my finger on it but. . .wait!
"Total Recall" is eerily similar to a movie from 1990 called "Total Recall," but it still comes off as different.
But if "Total Recall" isn't "Total Recall," then what the hell is it?
In 1990, the role of Doug Quaid was played by a ridiculous block of cement with an Austrian accent. I'm still not sure how it happened, but this guy, through sheer force of will, managed to become the world's biggest movie star. (He later switched careers and did something really low profile... gardening, maybe.)
Watching him wake from troubling dreams (naked under a sheet) was something of a big deal in "Total Recall." It was the first time this ubermensch was ever shown in a human context. Don't worry, though. Fifteen minutes later he'd be using dead civilians as a human shield.
2012's version gives us Colin Farrell, a remarkable actor (see "In Bruges" or "The New World" or watch "Daredevil" again with lower expectations) who we know will nail the "acting" part of being the existentially perplexed Doug Quaid. His physique is also a little truer to Philip K. Dick's short story, where the character's name was Quail.
The earlier film presented Earth as a giant mall parking lot.
The new film lets loose with production design from Patrick Tatopolous. The city scape has canals below and upside-down "Habitat '67" structures above. Not quite sure how that works, but I can say that it looks damn cool.
The plot-generating location of Rekall aren't mundane medical offices like in the original, but an Asian-inspired opium den replete with dozing hotties behind silk screens. (The implication being that you can get implants of a sexually transgressive past while engaging in a sexually transgressive present? Maybe the movie will explain this a bit more. . .)
In the original, Arhhhnold goes nuts and pummels his enemies into smears on cinder blocks. He then escapes to Mars, pretending to be a fat woman, and destroys his foils while issuing jokes. ("Screw you, Benny!" being my favorite. Because he's drilling a giant screw into his brain.)
Modern movie trailers being what they are, things move a bit too quickly to do a full-on comparison, but there are some notable differences. Len Wiseman and company have been boasting about their "all practical" choreographed first fight scene. I suppose it is, indeed, impressive that computers have figured out how to keep lenses in focus while they move so quickly, but, c'mon, raise your hand if you think it looks kinda silly.
Also, the rumors are true, no one goes to Mars this time. (No one goes to Mars in Dick's story, either, but in that Mars comes to us. . .kinda.) However, the world of "Total Recall" has a number of interesting locations – the Asian fusion setting, the sky freeway, a robo factory and some room or something where it looks like gravity gets a nice shake.
I doubt we'll see human shields, but one quick shot shows Quaid (or someone) smashing through security glass, similar to the then state-of- the-art transportation X-ray scene of the original.
Quaid's wife (or is she?) in the original was played by Sharon Stone, a star on the rise. The love interest in his head (or is it?) was played by Rachel Ticotin, who has been working consistently, but I'll be damned if I can remember anything else she was in. There was also a prostitute with three boobs.
The new wife is Kate Beckinsale, who is also the wife of the film's director Len Wiseman. She is a very attractive woman and she wears her costumes really well.
The new sidekick/love interest is Jessica Biel, proving that, yes, in 2012 you can have two brunettes in one movie. My, how far we've come. Biel has, about .5 seconds of screen time in this trailer, but you can tell she is the more adorable and caring of the two women, because in the one shot she has you can really see the whites of her eyes.
At some point the two women will fight on screen. If this scene isn't shown at Comic-Con this year, I will buy you all popcorn.
Paul Verhoeven's original had Ronny Cox playing the white collar baddie named Vilos Cohaagen, and the great Michael Ironside was his henchman Richter.
To compete with that kind of legacy you have to bring out the big guns. With that, none other than Bryan Cranston is playing the heavy this time. While his name again is Cohaagen (why lose such an awesome
name) he isn't an industrialist on Mars, but a political figure on Earth. Beckinsale will act as something like his Richter, which means that character will wear more leather pants than in the 1990 version.
The plot mechanics of the two films will ultimately be similar, with freeing the underclasses on one side of Earth standing in for the Martian colony. The sets, action and tight pants all show great potential. Kids won't be able to leave the theater shouting "Get your ass to Mars" in thunderous Teutonic tones, but hopefully this new one has a trick or two up its sleeve to compensate.
Come back every Thursday for more intergalactic musings on Planet Fanboy and follow its fearless leader Jordan Hoffman on Twitter!
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