Total Recall (2012)
Never did I think that we would have to slap a tacky looking (year) onto one of the greatest sci-fi/action movies of all time. But a couple of years ago the announcement was made; fast forward to now and here we are, with a brand new shiny remake of Arnold's romp through his mind and Mars. After the announcement, would come a trailer, and this is where the true resistence was felt. For hours (or perhaps just minutes) my friends and I spoke about the merits of a remake, and about how old we were getting (that Total Recall really is that old). My friends were dubious about a remake: the film would be sacrilegious and an atrocity affronted to all humankind, but I took a slightly different approach. Perhaps it's fueled by indifference, but I can appreciate re imaginings, reinterpretations and modern updates. I appreciate that what I have loved is loved enough that they want to modernize it for today's youth, and I'm fascinated to see the results. The existence of a remake - good or bad - doesn't sully the original for me; if anything, it will just enhance it further.
As I said before, I'm typically indifferent. While I watched the trailer for the new Total Recall I felt a twinge of excitement, and I can tell you the exact scene: it's when he (Quaid) steps out on the balcony and the camera pans around to show the city around him in all its sci-fi glory. It was a thing of beauty, as you could tell (from these few short seconds) that some time and effort went into its creation. I was excited for modern special effects to deliver me a stunning view of the future, something which I feel has been lacking in other science fiction movies. Indeed, most other sci-fi films are sent on other worlds, in space or otherwise unrecognizable areas. The original Total Recall used the concrete backdrop of Mexico City to give us a glimpse into a "modern" and futuristic version of America. Move forward to this remake, and the cityscape is (completely rendered and) very detailed, but strikes more than a passing similarity to the world of Blade Runner. Indeed, I felt like we could see Deckard running after some replicants in the background. When the film moves into the second act we're transported to The Fifth Element, complete with flying cars and vertically staggering cities.
In this future, there are only two countries left, one of which is the United Federation of Britain. What I love about this one (and this is the one that looks like The Fifth Element) is that it builds upon the original city. They've effectively built a floating city on top of the old one, where cars still drive with rubber tires to the road. The other country is The Colony - in Australia - and effectively takes the place of Mars from the original movie. I guess they just didn't have time to fit a planet into the plot here, and I must say it's not necessarily for the worst action-wise. It is kind of confusing for the motivations of the characters though.
And that's where things fall apart - if you let it get to you. I just don't know why Cohaagen is allowed to be so evil here: when he was out to screw Mars it made sense: it's another planet akin to the wild west, where corporations do as they please. On Earth, things are just a bit too close to home. But that's where the complaints (generally) end: the rest of the movie was fun, full of action and attractive women, and even a third breast for all us fans of the original.
I walked out of the theatre asking myself why they just don't make a shot for shot remake like they did for Psycho. Why bother messing with things that were fine to begin with? And this is really a remake more than anything else - you can't get away with calling it a reboot (like The Amazing Spider-Man). This is all perfectly good; the movie surpassed expectations. Admittedly they weren't that high to begin with, and I'm certainly aware that I'll never see this version ever again. I'll always go back to Arnold for my Total Recall fix and I hope that people who are being introduced to the world now can look back and see that version - and appreciate it. And oddly enough, the older version was the more cerebral of the two, who knew?