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Review: Total Recall (2012)

Another remake of a ‘classic‘science fiction film of the 80s what sacrilege, whatever happened to original ideas blah blah blah. To be honest this remake did intrigue me right from when I heard about it.  I really enjoy the original which did a good job Philip K. Dick’s short story We Can Remember it for You Wholesale into a big action blockbuster. This film has just as much action and it comes at a frantic pace. It sets up a fairly intriguing future world and goes into some detail to make it look real.

Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is feeling unsettled. At night he dreams of a different life but wakes to a life of low income in a crap factory job making security robots on the other side of the Earth and he has to travel there every day. He has beautiful wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) but he just wants something more.

The world has been through some very hard times. Over-population has scarred the world once more with biological warfare and left most of the surface uninhabitable except for two zones, the wealthy United British Federation (UBF) that occupies the British Isles and north-western Europe, and the Colony which occupies Australasia which is much poorer, which is why Quaid has to travel though the Earth the every day to work.

This daily travel is by means of The Fall, a large capsule which free falls through a tunnel bored right through the Earth between the two regions. The Fall is powered purely by gravity and this is totally feasible if the problem of tunnelling though all that hot liquid rock can be solved.

Quaid is interested in the services of a company Recall who can implant memories of exciting lives to brighten up those who lives are dull and unsatisfactory. The technology has a sleazy reputation and Quaid’s work colleague Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) tells him a scare story about the risk of brain damage. Later on a new worker tells him Harry is talking crap because he’s used it with no damage. He gives Quaid a card for the place and tells him who to ask for.

That night Quaid goes to the Recall Lounge where he listens to the sales pitch and chooses to have the memory of a secret agent implanted. The tech McClane (John Cho) explains that they have to scan his brain because if they try to implant a memory that is true it can cause a conflict that can damage the brain. McClane is looking through his memories while other techs get him set up in the machine and the start the process. Just before it starts McClane spots a problem, Quaid actually is a spy. He halts the process immediately. A squad of armed federal agents burst in on the place and shoot all the staff dead. Quaid is frightened and confused which seems to trigger a physical memory of being a bad ass and he Jason Bournes the agents killing them all and escaping before more arrive.

Quaid goes home and tells Lori all about it. She doesn’t seem to believe him but she hugs him and tells him it will be all right. Her hug turns to an attempt to choke him to death. Lori is not his wife and he’s not Quaid and because he knows this Lori is going to kill him. She’s under orders from the leader of UBF Chancellor Cohaagen (Brian Cranston) to not kill Quaid but she has her own ideas on that subject. Quaid and Lori fight then Quaid escapes and Lori chases him. A lot. While running and escaping from Lori and the police Quaid gets rescued by rebel fighter Melina (Jessica Biel) who knows him from his real life and who helps him find out who really is and why Cohaagen wants him.

This film has so much action you barely get time t breath and it really does give you the sense that Quaid is constantly under pressure either being chase by Lori or trying to stop Cohaagen’s plans. Well, he did wish for an interesting life. The film looks really good with a lot of work done in creating a future world that looks both futuristic and decayed. I liked all the futuristic stuff like the maglev cars, the vertical cities and the 3D elevators. I can see the influence of films like Blade runner in look of the Colony and it also reminded me of the over-crowded sprawl of Williams Gibson’s future settings in stories like Neuromancer.

Colin Farrell turns in a really solid performance in this, Jessica Biel was okay as Melina and Brian Cranston was good as usual but I think Kate Beckinsale really hit this one home. Her character is a combination of two characters in the original film that were played by Michael Ironside and Sharon Stone but she is much more physical and relentless in this.

The story is interesting but it has the same plot twists as the original so if you seen that you know what’s coming even if the details have changed. It still about a man trying to discover who he was and realising that it’s who he is now that matters.The rich and powerful are still stomping on the weak and powerless and the hero has to step up and stop him. Overall its a lot of fun but it doesn’t do much more than the original.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Notable Occurrences Related to Audiovisual Recordings of Fantastical Narratives

Remakes or re-imagining have featured in a couple of films that got my attention this week. The first was the release of a teaser trailer for Total Recall which is due out this Summer. Paul Verhoeven‘s original with Arnold Schwarzenegger was a big hit because it was a big science fiction action blockbuster but it still had at the core the question of identity: are we purely the sum of memories or is there a something more fundamental to an individual’s identity. I know in that the economics of film mean if you have a big star like Arnie to play the lead then your investment is safe but Arnie is a very imposing personalty and so I welcome the decision to cast Colin Farrell in the lead because he is actor who can be more convincingly normal and I hope the remake is a bit closer the Philip K. Dick story that it is based on.

The other remake that made the news was the casting Chloe Moretz to play the lead in of a remake/re-imagining of the Stephen King story Carrie. I’m not very enthusiastic about this one because I don’t see there being any more to the story than what we got in Brain de Palma’s original version. Maybe it will be closer to the book but even if that’s so it would not mean that the film will be any better so I will just wait and see the film when its finished

One film I am excited about is Iron Sky which is coming out in April (see the sidebar for the UK release date). The story has Nazi’s hiding on the dark side of the Moon invading the Earth with flying saucers and from the trailer the whole thing looks a bit like Mars Attacks, a film that I really enjoyed. It has Udo Kier as the Nazi commander and also has a female American President who looks and sounds a lot like Sarah Palin, a future just as terrifying as Nazis invading from the Moon (only joking so chill out conservatives).

Speaking of American Presidents I have seen the trailer for the Summer release of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter  and it looks interesting. I like stories which take a mixture of historical figures and literary characters and blend them into something new and if this film is successful maybe they’ll have try at other novels like Anno Dracula or The Difference Engine.

Other interesting trailers doing the rounds include The Host where everyone has blue eyes because they’ve been invaded by aliens. It is based on a book by Twilight author Stephanie Meyer and is not out until next year so we’re in for long campaign of attrition on this one.

How many clichés can be squeezed into one trailer? A man convicted of a crime he didn’t commit is offered his freedom by the authorities if he goes in to a maximum security prison to rescue the President’s daughter who is trapped inside after the prisoners start a riot. Put the prison in orbit around the Earth and you’ve got Lockout starring Guy Pearce and I have a feeling the trailer will be the most exciting thing about this film.

Other films

  • The Revenant – I know nothing about this other than it has been around  for a coupleof years and it is a zombie comedy.
  • Metal Shifters – (or Iron Invaders on IMDb) sounds like a rip-off of Maximum Overdrive or Killdozer
 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Film

 

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Review: Fright Night (2011)

This remake of Fright Night could be said be to cynical attempt by bunch of Hollywood suits to cash-in on the vampire bandwagon with a film based on a very popular vampire comedy from the 80s. I was going to go and see this at the cinema but decided to wait until it was released on DVD. While this film does have the same characters as the original they are all very different people. It has many of the same scenes but there are many more scenes unique to this film and knowing how the original story went doesn’t really tell you much about this one except in the broadest terms.

Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a dick-head who ditched his lifelong nerdy friends to hang out with other dick-heads and impress a beautiful girl Amy (Imogen Poots) with how cool and not-nerdy he is. His former friend (Evil) Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) desperately needs to talk to him about their friend Adam going missing. We saw Adam going missing when he got captured while hiding from an unseen vampire that had killed his family the start of the film. Charley is such an insecure dick-head now that even after begging Ed has to threaten him with compromising photos to get his help in investigating Adam’s disappearance. They got to Adam’s house  and Ed tries to convince Charley that his new next door neighbour Jerry Dandridge (Colin Farrell) is a vampire and is responsible for a string of disappearances in their suburb but that just leads to an argument and Charlie is not convinced.

On his way home from Adam’s house Ed gets chased by one of Charley’s bully dick-head buddies. He evades the bully but falls right into lap of Jerry. When Charley gets home Jerry asks him if can borrow some beer and lingers creepily at the door while Charlie gets him beer from the fridge with Charlie clearly making point of not inviting Jerry in. Jerry talks about Amy and Charley’s mother in way that is ambiguous enough to sound innocent if repeated but with a definite air of threat. Next day at school Charley notices Ed is missing and starts getting worried. He starts watching Jerry and when Doris, a woman he knows, goes into Jerry’s house and he hears screams Charley calls the police but Jerry manages to charm his way out of being investigated. When the police leave Charley sees Jerry leaving in his car so he breaks into Jerry’s house and finds Doris but when they manage to sneak out into the daylight Doris bursts into flame.

Charley tries to get help from Peter Vincent (David Tennant) a Las Vegas magician who also claims to be an expert on vampires in his publicity. Charley cons his way into an interview with Peter by posing as a reporter but when he tells Peter that he really needs his help with a vampire Peter gets him thrown out thinking he’s crazy. Charlie goes home and starts carving stakes and hanging crosses and garlic around the doors and windows. When the door bell rings he rushes to stop his mother Jane (Toni Collette) answering the door but it turns out it’s Amy. Jerry appears at the door soon after but Charlie convinces his mother to not invite Jerry in. They are puzzled to see Jerry go into their back garden with a spade and digging down the gas pipe supplying the house. He ignites the gas and blows up their house. Charlie, Amy and Jane get in a car and try to get away but Jerry is soon on their tail.

It is inevitable this film gets compared to the original and it’s not going to be a favourable comparison. Charley initially less likable, Amy is more blandly standard pretty, Jerry is more thuggish, Peter Vincent is Dr Who. But  in this film those characters fit together in a different way to create a different story. I liked that Charley’s mum did not get conveniently scripted out the story. I’m not keen on the CGI gore and Peter Vincent’s convenient expertise really was a bit much. It is entertaining and has plenty of thrills but is light on the chills.

Rating 7/10

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Posted by on February 25, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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