I’m having a stressful week. Like, scream-into-a-pillow stressful. I don’t need to dwell on this after work, so I met up with my friend and we went to see a disgustingly big-budget popcorn movie. After a bit of a dry patch in the cinema schedules lately, this was just what I needed, a remake of popular 1990 Arnie sci-fi epic (you can describe anything as epic these days; as a noun, as an adjective, take your pick, Broken Britain!)
I can hear you all already: “Ugh why did they need to remake a classic?”. I considered this as I watched the trailer for a painfully lavish adaptation of “Anna Karenina” (seriously though, who did they think Total Recall’s audience was?!). Nobody bats an eyelid as yet another literary classic (i.e. it’s old and most people have heard of it) gets adapted for cinema or TV, why should it be any different? Anyway, fortunately you can all shut the hell up because Total Recall 2012 was really enjoyable. And anyway both films were loosely adapted from a Phillip K Dick story, so NER.
OK let’s run through the cast first; Colin Farrell is looking rather amazing, and we were handed plenty of money shots in the opening scenes, so all good there. He was a bit of a blank slate for a character though, perhaps intentionally so as not to compete with Arnie. He played the usual “tough guy but sensitive soul battling demons” thing you expect, and he’s had plenty of practice there, so it was all decent.
Jessica ‘no-face’ Biel failed to make much impression. Very pretty but I just can never remember her in anything. She was a familiar face, but a 1D character. A bit of an iffy start for the leading couple, but there was plenty else going on, I didn’t worry too much.
The star of the show was the gorgeous and ferocious Kate Beckinsale, storming around like a T-1000 assuming the form of the cast of Desperate Housewives and all the shampoo commercials in-between its episodes. Unstoppable and always furious, she was amazing in every scene. You see her and you think “uh oh, shit’s gonna go down” (or something whiter if you’re me).
The supporting cast did a serviceable job, so well done black friend, chinese guy from Flashforward (*shudder*), and a head-fuckingly evil Dad from Malcolm in the Middle. Yes I know he must have a name, but he will always be Malcolm’s dad, just like Giovanni whats-his-name will always be Phoebe’s brother out of Friends. I don’t like seeing evil Dad from Malcolm in the Middle, it’s like seeing an evil Delia Smith or Rolf Harris or something. But evil he was.
Bill Nighy… I was a little unsure about why he even turned up to be honest, given the extent of his role. Not least with an American accent … but there are reasons for my confusion.
OK I might be a bit sketchy on the other movie’s plot but 2012’s edition loosely follows the same idea. I won’t spoil anything, but the film is based on post-apocalyptic Earth, with most of the world uninhabitable after chemical war, and only two regions are still populated: The United Federation of Britain (hooray!) and in place of the barren dusty wasteland of Mars, they have… Australia, tee hee. Well it’s called the Colony in this, and its humble population (not one of them with an Aussie accent curiously enough) are kept under the thumb by those evil Brits (most of which are American anyway, including the president).
The Colonists commute to work every day (from Australia to London…) on a GIANT LIFT THAT GOES THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF THE EARTH. Just let that sink in. Whatever, for its enormous implausibility on several points, it does introduce a nice gravity flip plot device, for shits & giggles.
The film looked amazing though. Seriously amazing. The London scenes particularly had a really weird sense that it WAS London, if you look past the staggeringly improbable architecture. I can’t quite articulate what I mean there, but it just really worked well. Aside from a seizure-iffic section at the start with SO much strobe lighting, the whole film looked great. It did get plenty of mileage out of that lens flare effect that was all over the latest Star Trek movie. Still, all good.
Some nice little nods to the old movie too, with a particularly busty lady in there for the veteran nerds. The scene in border control too, with that large lady too … well I won’t say any more, but it was a good reference and I felt all the smugger for having spotted it.
It wasn’t exactly a groundbreaking piece of cinema, but I’ve seen a hell of a lot worse action movies in my time, and I would recommend it to you, dear reader, if you like a good popcorn movie as much as I do.