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Review Total Recall (2012): Needless remake but contains nice action!

genre: science fiction, action

The original was and remains a masterpiece. Paul Verhoeven always puts in skill and passion that is very hard to copy. Verhoeven also doesn't shy away from cheesiness or humour. And yet he manages to create a film that is energetic and thrilling through and through. So what if his version isn't a faithful adaptation to the source material. At least Verhoeven put in his own social commentaries that never distracted from the main story. In a subtle way he combined fun entertainment and made you think about the issues he touched.

Enter the remake Len Wiseman's version. (I have watched this with an open mind. Sure I was against this remake but I was willing to give it a shot since Fright Night's remake also starring Collin Farrel was pretty enjoyable. I only wished that Wiseman made the remake with the same finesse and respect to the original version as Craig Gillespie did.) Where to begin. It felt like a film where bits and pieces were copied from other films in the sci fi genre hoping that these things combined would provide originality. Too bad that the main plot for the most part is exactly the same as the original. And gone is the possibility to add something new. Although I must admit that for a minute or so Len Wiseman almost surprised me at the end. But like most of the way he tells the story it was filler. Wiseman focusses on the action scenes which becomes apparent in the non action scenes. The action scenes are exhilarating and decent enough but when the action ends you notice the severe lack in tension and suspense. I couldn't care less about the so called mystery. (I watched the original Total Recall a couple of times now and even after knowing the plot I got excited by the twists and turns. Which shows the brilliance of Paul Verhoeven's direction.) Also all the characters are flat.There is no depth to them.At least Schwarzenegger displayed multiple versions of his character where as Collin Farrel is pretty much the same guy all the time. Not to mention Kate Beckinsale's portrayal as the evil wife. She hates Quaid so much that she even ignores her orders. The reason given for this hatred is very thin and shallow at best. It would have made more sense if she acted like she did because of a past experience between him and her. Bill Nighy and Bryan Cranston both are wasted and can't add nothing to the film even if they desperately tried to unless you really think it is believable that Cranston can kick Collin Farrel's ass. I could not believe this scene. The Cohaagen and Quaid scene in the original was a huge WTF moment and they diminished that to a generic hand to hand combat scene. You might have noticed I keep comparing. It is really hard not to. Had the remake been more it's own story it would have made it redundant to compare. Since that isn't the case I can't ignore the original. That is the problem with reboots and remakes. If you are going to do them you better make sure it is nothing like the original or at least adds something new that gives it a unique result. Of course the visuals and CGI have improved and look more slick. But were they more creative and necessary? No, not in the slightest. For once I would like to see the director of the original also direct the remake just to see how that someone would improve these visual effects and the film. It just shows that it is not the effects themselves that matter but the way they are used by the director. So is this remake worth your time? Even if you haven't seen the original it is hard to ignore the lack of suspense which could have made me overlook all the other flaws. The only real reason to watch this for the action. Still if for some reason you haven't seen the original I recommend to go watch that one also and you will immediately realize how needless this remake is.    

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