Posted on Monday, August 6th, 2012 by Angie Han
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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This week, Dave, Devindra, and Adam muse on the pleasures of space jail, ponder the virtues of a filmic canon, and explain why Total Recall represents everything that’s wrong with cinema today. Special guest Matt Singer joins us from Criticwire and Filmspotting: SVU.
You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. We’ll be reviewing The Bourne Legacy next week.
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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 »
When you’re sitting with the director of a major Hollywood blockbuster, it’s never awkward if your interpreation of the film is different than theirs. Oh wait. Yes, it is. It makes for an entertaining interview, though, and that’s what you’re about to see as I sat down with Len Wiseman, the director of the Total Recall remake that opens today.
Wiseman, who also directed Live Free or Die Hard, and multiple Underworld movies starring his wife, Kate Beckinsale, believes his version of Total Recall is more ambiguous than Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 version. I disagree. So we discussed that, along with how this film distinguishes itself from that version, the huge action set pieces, why he didn’t want it in 3D, his thoughts on Independence Day 2 (he worked in the art department on the first film) and more. And it’s all on video. Check it out below. 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 visited the Toronto set of Len Wiseman‘s Total Recall remake (read my report of the experience here). After the jump you can read a transcript of an on-set interview with director Len Wiseman alongside producer Toby Jaffe. The discussion was conducted with the roundtable of journalists on set. We talk to Wiseman about the differences between his adaptation and the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, his version of the future, lens flares, societal issues, easter eggs to satisfy fans of the original, future tech created for this version and the importance of keeping the film “grounded”.
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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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I’ve written a bit in the past about the effort by David Cronenberg and Dino De Laurentiis to produce Total Recall, a movie based on Philip K. Dick‘s story We Can Remember it for You Wholesale. The short recap is that prior to making The Fly, Cronenberg cranked out a dozen drafts of a Total Recall script and realized at the end of that process that he and Dino were never going to be on the same page. So he moved on, eventually made The Fly, and years later Paul Verhoeven directed the Total Recall that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger.
As is often the case for a development project from major players that is many drafts into the process, concept art was created for Cronenberg’s Total Recall. We’ve just never seen any of it, until now. Read More »