The Sony panel on Friday ran an unbelievable TWO AND A HALF HOURS, which when you’re sitting in folding chairs, is a lifetime. Everybody soldiered through the whole thing because they wanted to see the footage from The Amazing Spider-Man (my thoughts here), but what that meant is everybody had to sit through Len Wiseman and the Total Recall remake.
To put this into perspective: just about the only time the original film was mentioned was when Colin Farrell joked that he was playing an Austrian ex-pat who becomes a body builder and then a movie star and then a politician. But beyond that the panelists - who included Wiseman, Jon Cho, Bryan Cranston and Kate Beckinsale - pretty much ignored the orginal. Which is nuts, since this seems like a direct remake, minus the Mars.
Sure, Wiseman has changed some stuff. In the footage we saw Rekall was no longer a high tech office but rather… an Oriental brothel/opium den, which feels like really putting a button on the metaphor. Anyway, what plays out in the Rekall offices is incredibly similar to what happens in the original film, except that Wiseman’s action aesthetic is Bourne directed by Zack Snyder and heavy on the sudden zooms. There were also hints of Minority Report as a team of soldiers use high tech spy gadgets to peek in on Colin Farrell as he decimates their comrades.
I think there’s an element of this that sounds cool on paper, but on screen it was flat and soulless. It played EXACTLY as I described in that you watch it and know what Wiseman was telling his guys to copy, not that it has the vibe of those movies. This is how cutting edge, interesting filmmaking gets watered down, at the hands of people like Wiseman.
Any talk of this movie being not based on Paul Verhoeven’s film but the original Phillip K Dick story must go out the window after this presentation. This is Verhoeven’s film all over again - Farrell even says ‘If I’m not me, who the hell am I?.’ There was footage of a fight between Lori, the evil wife (Kate Beckinsale) and Melina, the resistance hottie (Jessica Biel), which is right from Verhoeven’s film as well.
But most of all it was the lack of discussion of the original that bugged me the most. I got the strong sense that most of the people making this film either don’t care about the original or have never seen it. I will stack Total Recall up with the best of the best scifi action movies of all time, and it’s a delightfully original, imaginative and silly film. Wiseman looks to have made his derivative and po-faced.