Total Recall Remade

I saw this movie the Saturday after opening night. And yes, it took me this long to get around to reviewing it.  It was early in the morning to catch the cheapest showing.  I wasn’t going to pay full price for it.

I do have a few good things to say about the movie.  It looks very good.  It has a feature that I think is quintessential to cyberpunk in my mind.  It is the strange blend of poverty and high-tech.  A blue color worker living in a loft or larger studio apartment, they look like they are not all that well off but the refrigerator is very high-tech.

Of course, I didn’t think the original story was supposed to be cyberpunk.  On the other hand, it is argued that Dick’s writing anticipated a great many of the concepts that became central to the cyberpunk genre and people argue both sides of the argument as to whether he should be counted as a cyberpunk author or not.

To use and argument from one of my history professors, when I tried to argue that England possessed most of the forms of feudalism prior to William the Bastard seizing control of England by conquest.  They were not completely developed, but England was perhaps a few decades away from outright feudalism already.  So is it really fair to say that William brought Feudalism with him?  Her argument is that nascent forms of feudalism didn’t count.  That until all the elements existed, fully developed, then feudalism didn’t exist.  It could be said that Dick’s laid the groundwork that other authors completed and turned into Cyberpunk.

So maybe making this like far more cyberpunkish than the original is a viable vision for the story.  I just don’t remember the original having that feel to it.

I also loved the mag-rail roads to improve traffic capacity by layering upwards and the ability to travel on the topside and bottom sides of roads.  Much better than the flying cars of Fifth Element.

I was surprised by how well Jessica Biel was in this film.  I was a bit leery about the casting, but they all pulled it off and did a good job.

I also like the fact that the fake wife assigned to keep an eye on him had a greater roll in this film.  In the first film, there were two characters chasing after Quaid in most of the film.  They were combined into the one roll and I think it worked really well.

One you get past that, you start into the area of problems…….

The show takes place on Earth after some major event makes most of the planet uninhabitable.  But don’t blink, if you do, you will miss it.  Only one or two sentences on the screen and it is very poorly explained.

The blue-collar workers and lower socio-economic strata of society lives on what is left of Australia, now called The Colony.  Normally, if a disaster occurs, and few people survive, only in two parts of the world, those populations should resemble the population at the time of the disaster.  Yet Australia has become a very Asian society, with junks navigation former streets in some area.  It looks a bit like the heavy Asian influence that tends to dominate cyberpunk.

White Collar workers, the wealthy, and politicians live in Great Britain.  Some key factories are in Great Britain.  Like the factory making the automated police force.  But they are running out of space to put people.

The workers for the above mentioned factory travel via a high-speed elevator that travels THROUGH the earth and reached Great Britain in 15 minutes.  If it was really going that fast, they would have more than just the change in up/down orientation half way through.  They would have to be experiencing some g forces that was not depicted in the film.

Not to mention the fact that, while the film indicates they are not going through the center of the Earth, they would have been going through magma.  I didn’t see any indication that they had come up with materials to make a permanent shaft for the elevator in those conditions.

Several attempts to pay homage to the original were included, such as a woman going through the checkpoint that looked remarkably like the ‘woman’ from the first film.  That was kinda cute.  Because hush of anticipation came over the theater and the expected outcome did not happen.

The other item was the three breasted hooker.  That one was awkward and didn’t make sense.  Part of her function in the first movie is an example of the genetic mutations caused by lax radiation shielding in the poor zones.  This was not a feature written into the remake.  So there really wasn’t purpose or relevance to it and the result was that it felt out-of-place.

There were several other minor things wrong with it and I can’t talk about some of the items near the end of the film without giving spoilers.

Leave it to say, a lot of the character development was terribly weak because they decided to give the time over to action scenes instead.  I love a good action film and can enjoy one with a weak story.  (Battleship ship for example) But I know this story can be much stronger so it was a bit of a let down.  A visually appealing but weak remake is really not much of a movie.

The original is a story of power and control.  He who controls the air control the planet.  This is not the plot of the remake and the plot, which I can’t explain without spoilers, comes across as pathetic in comparison.

On the whole, watching it for a giggle to compare to the original is fun.  But don’t pay full price.

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One Response to “Total Recall Remade”

  1. I’ll rent it eventually. The original was on television the other day, and I watched the last half.

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