Comparison – Total Recall old and new

Ok, so finally here is the Total Recall review, I warn you now, this will contain spoilers, so if you don’t want any, watch the movie first.

Total-Recall1

I decided to make this a comparison, because I watched a review from Doug Walker as The Nostalgia Critic and That SciFi Guy (Leo Thompson). As such, I’m going to illustrate why the original with Schwarzenegger is a much better piece of writing, compared to the new one. I don’t like doing that, but I feel because simply the review of the new one would be kind of considered snobbish, without context of relating it to its predecessor, as some people have not watched the old one. The problems with the old one, are that it has tropes, like many of Arnold’s movies, but its one of the few gems that not only has a fantastic story adapted from Phillip K. Dick’s story “We can remember it for you, wholesale”, but that it’s still a great movie to watch and be entertained.

Being that I enjoy most of Arnold’s movies, I might have a slight skew on this, but its negligible compared to the issues the new movie has. While they removed the tropes that made the old movie cliché in ways, they didn’t give enough depth to specific scenes and characters to let the story develop. They focused on making bigger and better scenes in the movie, and letting the writing slip. This is because, the movie suffers from opposing ideas of 2 different screenwriters. Sometimes this can happen within a movie, where the movie seems like its bi-polar. We start to tread down the path of explanation and exposition, then boom we get whipped back into the other direction to have more action scenes to move the pace along.

This becomes a problem, where there is one pivotal moment in the story, that both movies have. Quaid is presented with the mental conundrum that what he is seeing and doing may not be reality as he knows it. Both times he went to Recall (Rekall in the new one), to have the super spy treatment on Mars. Where things differ between movies is that in Arnold’s movie, we’re actually on Mars and he is being shot at like he’s a super spy, and is having an adventure as per what he paid for at Recall.

So everything is believable including the point in the movie where they have someone try to use psychology to trick Quaid into surrendering. In the old movie, Quaid is able to see through this ploy because if it were merely an illusion and it were in his head, why would the image of someone important, like a doctor with confidence be showing fear in his eyes and sweating visibly? So Quaid rejects the false pretence given to him and kills the man.

In the new one, we have Quaid’s friend being in this role, and its all wasted because Colin Farrell overacts and the friend shows so much confidence and no subtle hint that he’s lying, that we don’t truly know why Quaid rejects his friend’s claims. He just rejects it because that’s what he’s supposed to do, to move the plot along. It’s the problem with remakes, they want to retell the same story, but they miss the point of the way the old movie is written. Similar to how Dick himself wrote in other stories, to give the reader a subtle hint as where the story is heading, and those able to pick up on it, can see WHY people do things.

With that major point being out-of-the-way, I’m going to move on to acting. I find everyone in the movie does an excellent job with what they are given, with a few exceptions. I really don’t like Colin Farrell as Douglas Quaid in this movie, I can see why they put him in this role, but when his other self is played by Ethan Hawke; a much better character actor, it makes me want this movie to star him in the leading role. Jessica Biel does a great job for someone whom isn’t totally an action star, granted she did have an action role in Blade Trinity. She did fine with the role she was given, she didn’t really make it her own and roll with it, like in Blade 3, but she didn’t phone it in.

Now we come to the role of Doug’s fake wife in the movie, Lori. Played by the Director’s wife, Kate Beckinsale, I enjoy the character in this movie, I don’t know why they let her keep her accent in the movie, but I guess it’s because she sometimes has trouble with others. Lori to me is better portrayed in Arnold’s Recall, because who wouldn’t want to wake up next to a hot and young Sharon Stone in the morning. Putting that thought aside for a moment, the new version of Lori is fantastic, mainly because she is a combination of 2 characters from the old movie. In the old one we had Michael Ironside as the lead pursuer after Quaid as Richter, the overzealous bad ass. In the new one, Lori is the lead pursuer in charge of taking down Quaid.

They probably changed it because in the old one, Richter had a lackey that was just there, and didn’t really need to be. As such we get someone who’s just as good in the action scenes. I don’t want to bring about a bigger spoiler involving Beckinsale’s Lori that shows up later, I’d rather you find out that yourself. As its one of the few good scenes in the movie. Now onto Cohaagen, this character does go through a change, but it’s a good one. Both Ronny Cox and Bryan Cranston are awesome actors to have as villains, as such in the new movie, Cohaagen has even more moxy compared to Cox’s version. Every movie I see with Cranston, I tend to enjoy, especially if he’s in a major role. I really liked him as the villain in this one.

The only nitpick I have to say about Ronny Cox’s version of Cohaagen, is something that tended to happen to Ronny throughout the years in movies and TV shows… Is that he tends to play the same basic character for every villain and some semi-good characters. So he is a bit typecast in his villains. One of the exceptions is the Beverly Hills Cop movies. Which is for a different type of blog entry. Now with the Leader of the resistance, as this is a revolution sort of story; is played by Bill Nighy, who does a good job, but his character is cut very short in this movie. Even more so than in the old one.

In terms of premise of story basis, both movies are a revolutionary tale, as such the old movie does this better, in that it’s a corporation wanting to cash in on Mars inhabitants needing air. Where as this one is a dystopian plot involving a calamity which makes land valuable with the government, all on earth. Which brings me to 2 major plot devices in this movie, one of which is a glaring plothole the size of… oh I don’t know, say the planet!

This is brought up in other people’s reviews, one of which is Noah Antwiler’s, where there is a giant Elevator through the planet, going right through the Earth’s mantle and core. This isn’t explained in any way, it’s just there, and used as a big plot device later in the movie. The other plot device is related to Doug’s job. In the old one, he was a construction worker so it was short and simple. This one, he’s a technician helping to assemble and inspect robots, that later are found to be an army made for the government (Way to recycle I, Robot’s plot there, guys).

Special Effects: What can I say, it’s basically what I wanted from the trailer that they showed, and since it was Len Wiseman, we had his usual moving camera and stylized vision.

Noteworthy items: In the movies, the company Recall is portrayed differently. In the old one, it’s a very clean, and professional company. In the new one, it’s a black market dealer, played by John Cho, who (to me) does a better sales pitch than the old movie’s sales guy. In the old movie, we had the seedy bar featuring the 3 boob hooker. This one also has said woman, played by a new person this time, and instead of a bar, its outside Rekall, haha. It’s a blatant throwback, but at least its good fan service.

Final Thoughts on the new one: The movie isn’t bad, mostly. It just needed a rewrite by a third screen writer, so he could blend the ideas of both previous screenwriters and give us more depth and exposition where it really needed it. I consider it a good re-hash of the same ideas and elements of the old movie without the tropes and with really nice special effects. Also a couple of twists that weren’t in the old one.

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Life Of Pi

Sorry for the delay, meant to post this earlier, but night shift takes its toll on me. On with the blog…

Life-of-Pi-poster

Life Of Pi, the movie which beat The Avengers at the Oscars for special effects, and I know why. The movie is very vivid in colour and depth, which enhances the 3D of the movie, even though I didn’t see it in 3D, I can see from the effects, that it would be effective. Although I did see the short a couple of years ago, and the short is in the movie, with an IMAX expansion, so you can see fish popping out of the walls of the screen boundaries. Ang Lee’s usual flair for beauty enhancing vision has been around for a long time, even in the days of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, so it’s almost expected at this point.

If the Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey is to be considered a transcendent human experience from the 1960’s detailing the possible rebirth of humanity (as a species), based on outside influence. While Kubrick’s film is very scientific, it’s still very much fantasy with its elements. Much like Pi’s journey through life, is very down to earth and plausible, it’s still very much fantasy, as we see it. If you’ve seen the movie, you know there are two stories he tells, one of which he shows and one of which of fact, that we don’t necessarily need to hear, but can tell has similar elements to his first story. I consider Life Of Pi a bit like 2001, in the sense that you’re suspending your current standards of what is real, and what is possible, with what you believe can be possible and can be achieved through trials and tribulations one can and possibly endure.

Granted we’ve seen survival stories, like Tom Hanks in Castaway, while that detailed one man’s survival on an island with a ball, Life Of Pi is very much the same sort of idea, except without the island, everything is on a boat in the middle of the pacific, where Pi is surrounded by the remaining animals from his parents’ zoo. Not to mention instead of a plane crash its a shipwreck, but that part is minor in the grand scheme of the plot similarities.

Unlike those movies that are grounded in reality, where we believe what we see, because it’s very plausible, and probable as to what someone would do in those situations. Life Of Pi has all the elements of discovery, loss, reinvention and faith of spirit rolled into one. I say faith of spirit, as Pi’s journey teaches us, that religion can be adopted and melded with others in a newer form of spirituality. I, myself have a similar sort of belief system, while Pi uses the polytheistic system, where all the gods are separate, different people.

Where as mine is much more monotheistic, in the sense that god may have many names, but is really one being just facilitating the needs and functions associated with the religion as people perceive them, at least in the sense of other monotheistic religions, but because I don’t follow any particular religion, I prefer to just have a spectator’s view of the religions as a whole, so certain details will be probably in error or misinterpretation and I apologise for that. I’m not trying to question others faith or start a huge discussion here, this is just what I think on the subject and it’s just one person’s opinion.

Anyway, back to the movie. The cast does an excellent job of making us believe they are who they’re playing. We see all the emotions of the characters exuding through the actors. Ang Lee’s direction is also very noteworthy, nothing is obscured, and nothing left out, we see everything happening to Pi, the only things we don’t see in detail are the computer generated death scenes. There is no blood in the movie, at least in terms of real blood, and very little CG blood. As the colour would mess with the overall beauty of the movie’s more flourescent colour scheme. Which is not a bad thing, considering the only 2 scenes we see such death involve the Tiger anyway, we still feel the emotion from such acts as we’re meant to.

The movie is an awesome fantasy thrill ride, showing faith in one’s beliefs in a positive way. Now whether or not its faithful to its source material is by no means up to me, since I have yet to read its original book. All I do know is, this is a beautiful film, that anyone can see and enjoy. Definitely worth a rental at least, and if you want to buy it, by all means, it’s definitely worth a re-watch. I was pushed into this film by those I work with, they kept going on and on about it, so I took some time out of my day and watched it before going into work again.

Also, I might do A Good Day To Die Hard, but I’m waiting for DVD, as from seeing others reviews, and how bad it’s doing on Rotten Tomatoes, my enthusiasm has left me in terms of how bad it is. So I’ll eventually get to it.