Tuesday, August 07, 2012

"Get your ass to Mars!"

I really enjoy movies. But as much as I enjoy movies I'm very particular about how I want to spend my movie going time. I'm not big on dramas or real-life heart-wrenching spectacles. "Based On True Life Events" does not get my ass into a movie theatre seat. I live among the real life bullshit. Please take me away from it, if only for two hours. I saw Len Wiseman's TOTAL RECALL over the weekend, and I have to admit I enjoyed it far more than I did Paul Verhoeven's version back in 1990. I am a big Arnold Schwarzenegger fan. I saw Conan when I was a teen and was completely mesmerized by his outstanding awful acting and massive muscles. I even have a soft spot in my heart for Raw Deal. I really, really teeny tiny soft spot. But there's a level of camp in Verhoeven's that gets annoying upon several viewings. I know this because I use to watch it quite a lot when it came out on VHS. All that aside, I still find it to be a fun romp for Arnold to get his forehead vein all worked up for. However, the TOTAL RECALL version that I viewed starring Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale worked better for me as far as post-apocalyptic third world living goes. Everything seemed far grittier and realistic that yes, even if a fuck ton of people had to all live in Australia, then building places for all these people to live would look a lot like what we saw in Len Wiseman's re-telling of Philip K. Dick's story. The action is fairly non-stop and looks amazing. The chemistry between actors seems more coherent, and though lacking all the fun one-off surprises from Verhoeven's, it possesses a conciseness totally missing from the 1990 cut. I found the dry, curt humor appropriate for the time depicted, and the behavior of Quaid fighting to not be bothered by dreams, that seem so real, relatable. Sure, his wife is uber hot, but sometimes there's more to life than tiny, white boy-cut shorts. I said, sometimes. Bryan Cranston as Cohaagen, is wonderfully bad without being comic-booky evil. He even gets to kick Quaid's ass a bit. Bill Nighy's appearance as Matthias is too small of a role for an acting giant such as Nighy, but that's only because I've become quite the fan of his in the last several years. I first saw him in an episode of the BBC miniseries titled The Canterbury Tales. I was hooked. Then, when I saw him again in LOVE ACTUALLY and UNDERWORLD, I was sure that this is the kind of actor I want to see more of. So of course his small role in TOTAL RECALL was both good and bad. Good that he was amazing as usual and he does a really great American accent. Bad in that he's screen time probably only totaled 6 or so minutes. I understand that many are suddenly coming out in favor of Verhoeven's TOTAL RECALL over Wiseman's for a lot of the cheesy, overblown sci-fi factors that does work well in Verhoeven's movie. It amuses me that when it original came out in 1990, a lot of people were slamming it for the same reasons they seem to be liking it now. Whatever. I knew then that it was crazy good fun, and it still is. Wiseman's is also crazy good fun that gives the female leads more to do and looks and feels more sci-fi. I'm looking forward to the additional 17 minutes that will be added to the DVD release later this year.

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