Monday, 6 August 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #936: Total Recall, Recalled.

The remake of the 1990 Total Recall fizzled at the box office completely powerless before the seemingly unstoppable force of The Dark Knight Rises.

What can we learn from this fizzling?

1. There really needs to be someone outside of Hollywood who wants to see the remake.

If you read anything about the original Total Recall movie the franchise fizzled out almost immediately after it came out on VHS.

An attempt at a sequel, based on another Phillip K. Dick short story, died in development because no one wanted to do it, and the audience wasn't exactly demanding. The rights to the story lapsed, ended up at another studio, and became the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report a decade or so later.

A 1999 Canadian/German/American Cable TV series called Total Recall 2070, tried to cash in on the name, but failed to last more than one season due to extreme lack of interest.

When the studio announced plans for the remake, the overwhelming reaction was one of being extremely underwhelmed. Even the most ardent sci-fi action movie nerds were giving it a big fat "feh." 

And let's not forget the original. I caught it on TV a while back and the charms it held when I first saw it were long gone. 

I got the sense from watching it that all director Paul Verhoeven wanted was to just overdo everything to the extreme, and to hell with coherence. Evidence can be found in the the film's then record breaking $60 million budget and the fact that the first thing people think of when the movie's mentioned is the 3-boobed hooker*.

2. Just because someone is big in Hollywood doesn't mean they're going to sell tickets.

Colin Farrell is actually a good actor, but his appeal to the audience was tainted early on by Hollywood's attempt to pigeonhole him as the pretty Irish bad-boy which only made him look like a huge asshole.

This has put him in a strange twilight zone. Hollywood loves him, because he looks good on a magazine cover, but the audience really doesn't see his presence as a plus.

I don't know what he can do to break this because it seems pretty insurmountable.

3. Special effects can overwhelm a movie.

When you're just bombarding the audience with wave after wave of impossible imagery courtesy of money and computer technology, the thrill is going to fade really quickly.

When I was young we were thrilled by stunts and FX because they required some pretty involved mechanics, skill, and artistic flair to pull off. Now, all you need is the right software being manipulated by some pale guy in a windowless office.

I hate to sound like a fawning Nolan fanboy, but you can see that he only uses the minimum of CGI to pull something off, preferring the verisimilitude of physical stunts and effects.

That's what I think, tell me what you think in the comments...

*Boobs are like martinis. 1 is not enough, but three is too many.


  1. Sandy Petersen7/8/12 12:14 pm

    I never really DISLIKE Colin Farrell, but it's true that his presence does not draw me to see a picture. Now if Will Smith had been the star of the new Total Recall.. well I still probably wouldn't have seen it, but I would be tempted.

    On the other hand, if it had starred Danny Trejo or Sid Haig I'd be there in a flash, which probably means I am not Hollywood's target audience.

  2. Rainforest Giant here,

    There's no need for a lot of special effects in a movie like Total Recall. It's about a guy dreaming he's saving the world. Most people are the center of their own world so it could be done much more cheaply.

    *According to Al Bundy, 'Women need three hooters. One on the back for when you're slow dancing'.