In yet another year brimming with sequels, prequels, remakes, reimaginings, and reboots, it’s all too easy to complain about Hollywood’s lack of creativity. It’s also inaccurate. The Dark Knight Rises may be a threequel based on a comic book, but it’s also an exhilarating, thoughtful realization of one auteur’s vision. 21 Jump Street may very well have started out as a bottom line-obsessed exec’s idea of an quick cash grab, but Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Jonah Hill, Michael Bacall, and Channing Tatum turned it into one of the year’s brightest comedies. Artists have always stood on the shoulders of other visionaries from eras past, and the great ones have always known how to make those old templates their own.

But then there are projects like Len Wiseman‘s Total Recall remake, which deserves all the eye-rolling its very premise inspires and more. It could be the top contender for the title of “summer’s most inessential movie.” Not worst movie, mind you — I wasn’t confused or annoyed or bored to tears. With its handsome leads, slick action, and a relatively coherent storyline, it’s not likely draw any ire. And that’s what’s so goddamn soul-sucking about it.

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“Grim ‘n’ gritty” is the roiling cloud that settled over the comics industry after Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns became a runaway success. Like a resolute storm front, it has moved on to menace other media. Miller used grim as satire, and gritty as provocation, but for so many others they’re empty buzzwords, dull style guidelines with scant meaning and stunted wit. Total Recall, 2012 edition, is the grim ‘n’ gritty version of Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 movie of the same name, this time from director Len Wiseman (Underworld, Live Free or Die Hard). Wiseman applies the style with little apparent intent or discretion, and in doing so creates little more than a visual exercise.

Verhoeven rendered Philip K. Dick‘s short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale with a goofy, gooey spirit, and spat out broadly satirical economic jabs as he kept tongue planted firmly in cheek. His film kept our interest by coming back to one question: what is reality, and what only imagined? Is there are difference?

Wiseman’s Total Recall has a few rudimentary thoughts in its head: “Economic disparity sucks! So does the abuse of power!” But it would rather make Kate Beckinsale look tough and sexy than do the legwork required to make bigger concepts into more than taglines. That’s not the worst intention, and Wiseman’s movie is at least energetic and sleek. But as it recites the twists and turns of the ’90 version, at times beat for beat, it replaces intriguing ambiguity with straightforward and forgettable action. Read More »

Everything you thought you know might not be what it seems. That’s both true in the world of Total Recall and regarding your previous thoughts on the movie. Sony just released a brand new trailer for the Len Wiseman directed August 3 remake starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel and it’s filled with so many epic looking action scenes, set pieces and special effects, it might actually get you pumped up for the film. The story is almost beat for beat the same as Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 original (which in turn was based on a Phillip K. Dick short story) but Wiseman’s budget definitely makes this, at least look like, a remake that’ll be worth seeing.

Check out the trailer after the jump. Read More »

On August 10th 2011, I traveled to Toronto and visited the set of Len Wiseman‘s Total Recall remake.  The movie was shot at Pinewood Toronto Studios, the same studio where Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Universal’s The Thing remake were filmed. I was on set two thirds of the way through filming. After the jump you can watch a video blog I recorded with Frosty from Collider discussing our impressions from being on set, alongside a comprehensive list of over 45 things I learned on set.
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Lots to see in today’s Sequel Bits, including a DVD featurette, a blooper reel, a TV spot, posters, and a (not at all revealing) set photo. After the jump:

  • Another new TV spot debuts for Men in Black 3
  • Gary Busey goes nuts in Piranha 3DD outtakes
  • Watch a featurette from the Underworld: Awakening DVD
  • Simon Pegg and Zachary Quinto tweet wrapping Star Trek 2
  • Check out the Korean G.I. Joe: Retaliation posters
  • Donnie Yen is set to return for Ip Man 3D
  • Who wants to be an extra on Atlas Shrugged Part 2?

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‘Total Recall’ Teaser Trailer

I guess this should really be called the Total Recall Trailer Teaser Trailer, because once again this is essentially a trailer for a trailer. But at thirty seconds, this clip features enough footage to count as a standalone teaser. The full Total Recall trailer, showing off what director Len Wiseman has done with Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, and Bryan Cranston, will be shown during the Celtics/Heat game on ABC Sunday April 1, and will then appear on Apple in extended form.

In the meantime, check out this trailer tease below, and begin your predictions about whether Wiseman’s take on the Paul Verhoeven / Arnold Schwarzenegger film will be a summer gift, or an April Fools prank. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:


Jimmy Kimmel has produced an epic 9-minute movie trailer parody featuring nearly every actor and actress in Hollywood. Movie: the Movie tackles every blockbuster and crowd pleaser movie and movie marketing cliches, and packs them all into one film trailer. Watch the trailer now embedded after the jump.

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A movie was out earlier this year that culminated with the birth of a half-human, half-vampire girl. Breaking something, I don’t remember the exact title. Next month there will be another movie with a half-vampire hybrid girl, and it looks like an action movie antidote to the gooey Twilight series. Whether or not you’re among the throngs of eager Selene-oglers, you can check out a new look at the fourth Underworld movie, Underworld Awakening, below. Read More »

‘Underworld: Awakening’ Trailer

Yep, it’s another one. Three years after the last installment, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, the vampire/werewolf film series not penned by Stephenie Meyer is back for a fourth round with the generically titled Underworld: Awakening. After sitting out most of the last entry, Kate Beckinsale has poured herself back into her skintight leather bodysuit to reprise her role as sexy vampire warrior Selene.

Upon emerging from a lengthy imprisonment in a coma-like state, Selene learns that 1) she has a teenage vampire/Lycan hybrid daughter named Eve (played by India Eisley) — the only one of her kind; and 2) vampires and Lycans are now being hunted by humans. Cue explosions, ass-kicking, many shades of blue, and all the other things we’ve come to expect from the Underworld franchise. Watch the new theatrical trailer after the jump.

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