Hollywood remakes happen more often than should be considered decent. With that in mind, it may come as a surprise that there are some kind words to be said about the recent remake of sci-fi classic, Total Recall.
Don’t get me wrong, most remakes are unnecessary and many get me upset enough to vent my anger on places like IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes.
However, I do enjoy a remake that is done well.
As a film adaption, the original 1990 Total Recall already had much to live up to. It was based on the neo-noir dystopian cyber world created by Philip K. Dick in his short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale. The story is dark, atmospheric and shows urban decay in the most stylish way.
Unlike Blade Runner (another adaptation of Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall has not aged too well. The naff set design and sub-par special effects leave a lot to be desired. And that’s not mentioning Schwarzenegger’s somewhat wooden performance.
To clarify, I love naff sci-fi and I love trashy exploitation and B-movies. That’s why I enjoy the original Total Recall as an entertaining afternoon flick. It holds its own as an accidently comic film starring archetypal action movie actors.
But what merits does the remake have?
You may think the choice of Colin Farrell as the protagonist, Douglas Quaid, odd. After all, he has never been associated with hugely successful blockbusters.
He has, however, proved to have a knack for playing paranoid and edgy characters, especially those who are involved in convoluted and conspiracy-heavy plots. Remember In Bruges? Or Phonebooth?
Kate Beckinsale plays Farrell’s disloyal wife and is a seemingly obvious choice for director, Len Wiseman.
Released on 29 August, Total Recall promises to be one of this summer’s hits that everyone will somehow manage to watch. Much of the excitement surrounding The Dark Knight Rises will have passed by the time it is released, leaving audiences hungry for more big-budget action.
What is different about this remake is that it seems closer to the world created by Philip K. Dick. Despite huge changes to location and plot, the world we see through Farrell’s eyes is closer to that described in the original story. It captures the spirit of the dystopian future well and it is not all down to fantastic flying car chases. Wiseman has kept some of the movie’s iconic moments, which will no doubt please the more sceptical fans.
The new Total Recall offers everything that you would expect from a summer blockbuster. In all honesty, it is not the worst remake you will ever see. That title has already been taken by Neil LaBute’s version of The Wicker Man.