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Grizzly Review: Total Recall

I find it ironic that Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is so bored with mundane life in Total Recall that he seeks the key to the secrets in his dreams; a longing for a better, more spectacular life with more substance. Better and more spectacular – this remake had the potential to be that, to build on the Philip K. Dick story that was originally immortalized in the Arnold Schwarzenegger 1990 flick. However, it seems to run into the same issues Quaid does in his (fake) life. Everything from the plot, to the characters, to even the visuals are redundant and generic during Len Wiseman’s reboot. It is at least – for the most part – a fun, if forgettable escape before we step out of the theater into our own reality.

Farrell plays Quaid as he is haunted by the same dream of escaping capture with a mysterious woman (Jessica Biel) that gives him a longing of a higher purpose. He works on an assembly line, in a factory with his friend Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) building synthetics, robot soldiers in the vein of the Clones in the Star Wars prequels or the NS-5’s in I, Robot. He lives a nondescript life with a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) and while going through the motions, he is driven to find the answer to the emptiness he feels.

Quaid and his wife live in the Colony, a dark, industrial-like slum, and they commute via The Fall, a transport that goes through the core of the Earth in order to reach Great Britain, the only other habitable place on the planet, where the rich get richer. The world is comprised of these two regions as the rest is uninhabitable due to the plaent’s earlier chemical warfare. The Resistance has been fighting with the elite over equality ,while the controlling government class declares them as terrorists trying to disrupt the system that works for all involved. Quaid feels connected to these stories and needs answers to filling the void and lack of purpose in his life that his dreams allude to.

Enter ‘Rekall’, the escapism that the bored need in order to live the fantasy and drown out the routine reality. You can become a movie star, sports figure, or even a secret agent. It is obvious that Quaid goes for the secret agent gig, but before he can get fully immersed, things go bad. Fast. His loving wife, quite suddenly is an evil undercover agent trying to kill him. That girl in the dream? Oh, she’s real and fights for the Resistance. Speaking of the Resistance, yep, he is definitely connected to their organization. And the government led by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston)? Yeah, Quaid is so important to them, that he needs to be hunted down for what he knows. Still following me? Honestly, it doesn’t matter. He is basically Jason Bourne in the future trying to figure out his purpose. That seemed easier than writing those last two paragraphs. Take from that as you will.

It should be known that while there are few Easter Eggs for those that have seen the 1990 version (Three-boobed lady!!), this bears extremely little resemblance to that movie. The Paul Verhoeven film had Mars, Sharon Stone, the idea of reality versus perception. Plus bug eyed people in search of oxygen (note, that ALWAYS freaked me out when I was a little kid, I couldn’t watch that sequence for years). Len Wiseman goes in a direction that only skims the idea of living up to your past versus establishing your own destiny and identity. He has always been a great visual and action director and really takes advantage of the futuristic setting and beautiful actors to establish eye candy and fast pacing for the audience to cover up the lack of depth in the screenplay.

Farrell does a serviceable job as Quaid as he runs around trying to figure out who the hell he is and who he needs to be. I do wish that there was a bit more depth or explanation to the character that delves into Quaid’s past, because his path to the truth seems to run so fast, and the character embraces his rogue fugitive present all too easily. While great for pacing into the action set pieces, which Farrell handles very well, the investment into the character is just on the ‘good guy must beat bad guy level’ as opposed to the ‘I hope he gets closer on who he truly is destined to be’ type of guy.

Beckinsale has fun with largely expanded role of his wife that goes from ‘loving spouse’ to ‘femme fatale-like kiler’ too quickly in her quest to take down her confused ‘husband’. However the increased visibility of the character distracted me as it seems to be more a showcase for her, as opposed to keeping the story on Quaid and developing his journey story arc to find the truth. Granted, I can definitely get over myself and just appreciate Beckinsale owning the screen. Jessica Biel does a good job as well, even if the character is very one note, and merely a directional arrow in order to get Quaid from point A to point B. Cranston should have been in this movie for longer, but during his time on the screen, he owns it and makes sure you know he is the big man in charge, and that he has no problem making sure his agenda is carried out.

Visually, the Colony looks like the world in Blade Runner, mixed in with Toronto’s Chinatown. Apparently Australia, where the Colony is located, is where all the Asian people went during the chemical warfare that engulfed planet Earth. The filmmakers really put the doom and gloom into the movie and capture the oppressed nature of the citizens of the Colony. While visually impressive with the set decoration and CGI, it feels repetitive to stare at the same dull interiors that every bar/apartment/government building this world has. Who knew the future was so listless and unimaginative? However, the action sequences are great and the futuristic car chase scene is fun to watch. I was a big fan of an elevator sequence too because holy crap Beckinsale kicks ass in this movie. I swear they took the sequences straight from Minority Report [Ed. Note – Early Drafts of the Minority Report script were written for Total Recall 2, which obviously never happened], but they still are visually appealing nonetheless. And Kate Beckinsale, again, is a total badass in this movie.

Overall, this is a fun diversionary movie and nothing more. I felt it could have gone deeper into the idea of innate personality versus the expectation/perception of who you were, but I will take a straight up sci-fi action flick that will stimulate the senses for 2 hours. The movie goes fast and it is a ride, but just like Quaid, do not ask me to recall any details about it later, for it will be a distant memory until the next action flick shows up on the silver screen.

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The Reboot of ‘Van Helsing’ Nobody Asked For…

It seems like only 8 years ago, people were watching and being disappointed by the movie Van Helsing, starring Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale. Now if you’re thinking to yourself, “Man, isn’t it time they remake that film?” then I have to ask, what the hell is wrong with you? But according to the  boys over at FilmDrunk, that’s exactly what is happening. Ait get’s better folks, Tom Cruise is said to be attached to this remake.

Continue reading The Reboot of ‘Van Helsing’ Nobody Asked For…

TOTAL RECALL Trailer: Starring Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale’s Ass.

Last week we talked a little bit about the upcoming Total Recall remake, and made fun of the fact that they released a trailer for the trailer. Which we ate up. Well now the actual trailer is out and we thought you might like to see it.

A few things we learn from this trailer…

Continue reading TOTAL RECALL Trailer: Starring Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale’s Ass.

TOTAL RECALL Remake: A Teaser…for a Teaser.

So as Hollywood proves how unoriginal it is, we continue to be spoon-fed reboots, remakes, sequels, prequels, and the lamest of all – reimaginings. And the worst part – they know we’re dumb enough to keep paying to see these things, so they’ll never stop. I admit, I’m the worst offender of all. I’m gonna watch the shit out of the new Total Recall, because I loved the old Total Recall.  The difference here is, while I love the original, I love it mostly because of Arnold. Now we are clearly devoid an Arnold. Can Colin Farrell make us forget about Schwarzenegger?

No, he can’t.

But he can try, and he won’ t be alone. Joining Mr. Farrell we have a pretty strong cast – Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, John Cho, Bill Nighy, Bokeem Woodbine, and Walter White Bryan Cranston. No Michael Ironside, but pretty strong none the less.

Now, we finally have some footage to go along with that cast list, and it comes to us in the form of a teaser…for the teaser. Yeah, that’s right – a 30 second preview for the trailer, which will air on TV durning the Heat/Celtics game on Game of Thrones Day this Sunday. Stupid, I know, but aside from some photos, this is all we’ve got so far.

Here is the Press Release…

 WORLD PREMIERE OF “TOTAL RECALL” TRAILER THIS SUNDAY

DURING CELTICS-HEAT GAME ON ABC

CULVER CITY, Calif., March 27, 2012 – Moviegoers will begin their Recall experience on Sunday, April 1, as Columbia Pictures debuts the trailer for the highly anticipated action thriller Total Recall during the NBA game between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat broadcast nationally on ABC, it was announced today by Marc Weinstock, president of Worldwide Marketing for Sony Pictures. Total Recall will be released in theaters nationwide on August 3, 2012

The world premiere of the Total Recall trailer will air during the first half of the game and will be promoted with tune-ins in the week leading up to the game.

Following the trailer’s premiere on ABC, a special extended trailer will debut online at http://www.apple.com/trailers.

The trailer will also launch simultaneously in over 30 countries on broadcast and online outlets.

Commenting on the announcement, Weinstock said, “We’re thrilled to be working with the NBA and ABC to give millions of fans all across the country this exciting first look at the trailer.”

Total Recall is an action thriller about reality and memory, inspired anew by the famous short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick. Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he’s got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) whom he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life – real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. Finding himself on the run from the police – controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston) – there is no one Quaid can trust, except possibly a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) working for the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy). The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as Quaid discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate. The film is directed by Len Wiseman. The screenplay is by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback and the screen story is by Ronald Shusett & Dan O’Bannon and Jon Povill. The producers are Neal H. Moritz and Toby Jaffe.

And the synopsis teaches us that Bill Nighy is the new Quatto!!

Kuato, Total Recall

Ok, but I know what you really want is this teaser, so behold…

Grizzly Review: Contraband

I’m man enough to admit that I love the “one last job” genre. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this genre you either don’t watch a lot of movies, or don’t pay attention to the movies you watch. A “one last job” movie involves a retired or aging criminal who has to do one more job to get himself out of the game forever and back to his family or his money or what/whoever he wants to be with. One of the most recent, and best, examples of the “one last job” genre that comes to mind is the Christopher Nolan, no pun intended, mindbender, Inception.

What is it about having to do one last job that makes a movie so damn exciting? Well, the stakes are almost always higher, and the payoff is always bigger. Whether it be millions of dollars, or the chance to be an actual citizen of the free world, sometimes all it takes is that one job to, well, get the job done. In the new action vehicle for Mark Wahlberg, Contraband, he plays a legitimate ex-con who now has a job installing alarm systems. That, my friends, is called action movie irony. Get used to it because it doesn’t get much better than that.

Wahlberg plays Chris Farraday, one of the best smugglers anyone knows. He did what he had to after he and his wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale), had their two sons, Michael (Connor Hill), and Eddie (Bryce McDaniel). Kate’s brother, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), has been going against Chris’ good word and doing runs, despite his brother-in-law’s advice to get out of the game while he could. Now, Andy has gotten himself into some deep doo-doo, dumping a bag of drugs that belonged to a local criminal, Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi).

The only way that Andy can get off the hook is if Chris helps him out with this one last job to get him out for good. Calling in a couple of favors, including a reliable counterfeiter from Panama, Chris reluctantly agrees, enlisting the help of some old partners including his right hand man, Sebastian (Ben Foster), and newlywed Danny Raymer (Lukas Haas) to get the money for the drugs from Panama, and back to Briggs in two weeks.

Contraband is definitely not the best action movie you’re going to see this year, maybe not even this season, but for a January release, the month which is notorious for its bad films, it could be a lot worse, and the excellent performances by the cast, especially Ben Foster and Giovanni Ribisi, elevate the film from run-in-the-mill, to, marginally above average. There’s also a pretty cool cameo by Diego Luna, which contains the most action packed sequence in the entire movie.

The writing is obviously not what anyone would call Oscar-worthy, and the shaky cam can get a little irritating at times, but overall, it’s nothing to cry about. Contraband delivers exactly what you’d expect; an average enough story and predictable plot points. But it also offers some of the best supporting performances I’ve seen in an action pic in recent memory, and everyone can appreciate some good acting.

3.5/5 Bears