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Film Review: Total Recall (2012)
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stainsteelrat
Total Recall (2012). Directed by Len Wiseman and loosely based on the short story by Philip K Dick. The film starts with some exposition that global chemical warfare has destroyed most of the Earth, and only two areas remain: the United Federation of Britain (some of Western Europe) and The Colony (Australia). People travel between the two habitable areas via a train that passes through the centre of the Earth. The story then switches to a bloodied man (Colin Farrell) waking up in a room full of medical equipment. He is helped by a woman (Jessica Biel) who hands him a pistol, and warns him that they must escape. Total Recall (1990) is one of my all time favourite SF films. It's a piece of comic book madness that is thoroughly entertaining and a classic. Total Recall (2012) would have to do a lot of work to fill its shoes, and ideally would have taken a different tack. In part the new film does take a different tack with a somewhat different story and look. In terms of positives, the film has lots of excellent CG, and two strong female leads (albeit Kate Beckinsale started to grate after a while). It's also well paced to begin with, and the first hour flows by. In terms of negatives, the fundamental problem is just a lack of story that gets spread too thinly over a fairly long runtime (2h10m for the Extended Director's Cut, although the original film was just under 2 hours). Also there's a lack of substance within the various cut scenes, which just seem to be one gun battle after another. Farrell is rather dull and gormless as the central character, and seems to spend most of the time looking lost and arching his eyebrows. I'm not averse to a bit of artistic license, but this film pushes it (a train through the centre of the Earth? Come on). Overall for me it was a dull effort that felt like so many other SF films that focussed too much on set pieces, and not enough on story, pacing, and variety. Those who don't mind some dumbed down action should get something from it. 3/5 (Average)
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