I saw the original Total Recall in 1990 and, to be honest, I've always kind of hoped there would be chicks with three breasts walking around by now. Twenty-two years later and, really, how much progress have we made?
Not much apparently, as Total Recall, the remake, hits screens this Friday at both the Village 8 in Whistle-town and the Garibaldi 5 in Squatham City. Yes there is a chick with three tits, but otherwise the entire film is really quite unnecessary, and rated PG at that.
The original Total Recall was an R-rated, exit-wound-and-profanity-laced highwater mark for pre-CGI special effects. Loosely based on a story by Philip K. Dick, it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as a regular guy who goes to a memory-implantation service to satisfy his curiosity about the human colony on Mars. Shit goes south, and the end result is a near-perfect sci-fi classic with director Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Starship Troopers) delivering a vision of "the future" that's quite prescient. (Not to mention all the great one-liners: it's amazing Arnie was able to make some of the best films of the decade, but could hardly speak English.)
In any case, there is no reason anyone needs to pay Len Wiseman (the guy who made the Underworld movies) to remake Total Recall, even if he does cast his hot wife (Kate Beckinsale ) in the skanky, faux-wife role made legendary by the steely glare of Sharon Stone (and the world's greatest tennis outfit).
There is no Mars this time around but otherwise Total Recall (2012) sticks pretty closely to the mood and story of the original. So it works, kinda. Colin Farrell steps into the Arnie role easily enough (although Arnie doesn't receive enough credit for his face-contortion acting in the original) and Jessica Biel returns to the action genre (where she belongs) as Melina, the mysterious love interest from the past. There were no pre-screenings but apparently the flick turns into an extended chase scene for the last half and loses all the momentum and psychological tension it had going for it.
It will be interesting to see how contemporary audiences take the scene where Beckinsale tries to kill Farrell and they beat the living crap out of each other. Domestic violence is no joke and this kind of shit can definitely ruffle feathers in the new era. (The Biel-Beckensale catfight scene should go off like gangbusters though; everyone loves to watch chicks scrap).
Hollywood has been remaking films about as long as they've been making them, but in the past decade it seems the trend has sped up (like everything else) and crapped out. Internet commentators say it's because kids these days won't watch old movies, that audiences are so trained to nurse from the CGI teat that anything else (character, story, conjoined-twin mutant fetus puppets) bores the crap out of them. I don't know if that's true or not. Certainly audiences keep going to all these remakes, even though most stink worse than your shorts after a six-hour bike ride and two spicy bean burritos, but it's also never been easier to watch old movies. iTunes, Netflix and other online services mean kids can watch whatever they want, whenever they want. In the old days you had to get on a waitlist for a good DVD and there's no way your local video shop would carry something like Johnny Guitar or Band A Parte. Regardless, I believe even kids raised on comic movies and CGI will agree that the original Total Recall is more fun. Although to be fair, the triple-breasted chick in the remake (then and now a nod to Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker series and Eccentrica Gallumbits, the Triple Breasted Whore of Eroticon 3) is definitely hotter.