Well Go USA has released the first official trailer for the indie film Freaks, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller that follows an over-bearing father trying to protect his daughter from a harsh world outside their windows.
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.
This weeks episode of Mad Men should probably really have been called “Pete gets his ass whooped”, but that would have ruined the surprise of what is especially rare in Mad Men; an “action” scene. The central theme for the week seemed to be the balance between the usefulness and inadequacies of men and who better to focus on than one petulant Peter Campbell. Pete’s biggest problem is not that he is a whiny, conniving little twerp in a slight frame, but that he compares himself to Don Draper.
First under the microscope this week is the P in SCDP, Lane Pryce. As one of the figure heads of SCDP Lane feels his position in the company is somewhat useless, so it is fortuitous when he meets the American Jaguar representative whom he hopes he can bring under the SCDP advertising umbrella. It should be noted that the English pronunciation Jag-Ewe-Arr is used prolifically and it was all I could do to keep from adding a “Yeahh Baby Yeaaah” every time it was mentioned. Unfortunately for Lane his client is more of an Austin Powers type Englishman than a proper gentleman, and all sales technique handed down from Roger is wasted.
Lane must turn to the “A-team” in Don, Roger and Pete to reel his client in and “show him a good time”. It quickly becomes abundantly clear that Lane’s client is looking for more than a sales pitch which makes it Roger’s time to shine. Other than setting the groundwork for one of the more hilarious reason for losing a client, his wife discovers “chewing gum in the pubis”, we get to see Peter compare himself side-by-side with the new Don Draper and here is where his youth shows. Pete feels like Don is being hypocritical and unfair by judging his indiscretions at the brothel, while giving Roger a free pass.
What Pete is missing is that Don was holding him to a higher standard than Roger, and is almost fatherly in his hope for Peter to make better life choices than his own. If anything this reveals that at some level Don actual cares for Pete. And maybe no scene in the history of the show said more about Campbell then when he is instructing his “lady friend” as to what character she should play in the bedroom – hence the episode’s title: “You’re My King”.
Blade Runner was one of those movies everyone urged me to watch and it is always stuck with the moniker of “best Sci-Fi movie ever made”, which so many people dispute. I was of course one of the disputers saying it wasn’t that great after watching it a couple of years ago. After doing my Top Ten Killer Robots list however, I decided to watch the movie again, and this time I loved it. It was a great movie, with some great questions about what the phrase “to be human” really means. And it was absolutely way ahead of the times with the special effects in the movie. Los Angeles in Blade Runner was a place I definitely wouldn’t have minded seeing in real life. I won’t go so far to say it’s the best movie in the science fiction genre, but it is definitely one of the best.
And now Ridley Scott seems to be easing back into what made him a ‘most sought after’ director. Since delving back into the Alien world with his prequel Prometheus, Scott seems to think it’s time for him to bring another classic film with Blade Runner. Now at this point we aren’t sure if it’s going to be a prequel or a sequel to the first movie, I suppose either way they go has a bit of allure to it. Check out a little more info from Deadline below:
I’m not getting a clear sense at this point whether Scott intends to do a sequel or a prequel to the 1982 film that was loosely based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Also unclear is whether they start fresh or reach out to Harrison Ford. The original took place in dystopian Los Angeles in 2019, in which organic superhuman robots called replicants escaped and are hiding somewhere on earth. Ford played Richard Deckard, a burnt out blade runner assigned to hunt them down. His tired life gets altered when he himself falls for one of the replicants and struggles to keep her from being destroyed.
At this point they could do a sequel with Harrison Ford as the Blade Runner that turned out (IN THE MOVIE ALL YOU GEEKS!) to be one of the Replicants that he was tasked in tracking down. Ford’s age factor could be explained that as a Nexus-7 model, Deckard the replicant is able to have a full life span of an ordinary human thanks to the advancements of the Tyrell Corporation. Or they could go completely the other way on that one and have him with a younger CG face as they did for Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy.
Another option is to have a sequel many years into the future with a new Blade Runner hunting a different group of replicants, which would seem like the easiest option. It’s always best to move forward and not have to trip over any continuity issues from the previous film. If Scott doesn’t mind navigating around continuity then he could do a prequel movie showing the development of the replicants and any problems that they had early on, or perhaps the mutiny of replicants that caused them to be banned on Earth. I favor the prequel treatment, because I’m always interested in the full story of vague, opening crawls in a movie. Plus Scott seems intent on doing prequels at the moment anyways.
What’s everyone else think? Has it been too long for a new Blade Runner movie or are you looking forward to this no matter what direction Ridley Scott goes with this new movie? I’m all for it as the first movie just brushed the surface of how replicants think and act when faced with the prospect of “retirement” or the end of their shelf life.