Wednesday, January 9, 2013


As an addendum to my first post of 2013 - A REVIEW OF THEGENRE MOVIES OF 2012 – I lamented the lack of comments that I have been getting recently on my reviews of films here at GUARDIANS OF THE GENRE! I wrote “The most pleasure I get from writing film reviews is the comments that I receive on them and lately there have been fewer than I would like. I hope that it is not the quality of the reviews themselves that have caused this sparsity of comments; but rather the ridiculous CAPTCHAs that Blogger uses to prevent spammers from posting comments.” I have been rewarded recently with a comment from fellow blogger Troy.

On August 5, 2012 I posted my review of Total Recall (2012): TOTAL RECALL – 2012 – TOTALLY CAPTIVATING. I have now received three comments on this review – one more or less agreeing with me – thanks Dan O – and one fervently disagreeing with me – thank you, as well, Mark! I just received a comment on this post that I thought was so filled with interesting ideas and conflicting opinions of the film, that, knowing that most will not read his comments buried at the end of an old post, I decided to share it here in a separate post.

January 9, 2013 7:21 AM

People riff on about how wonderful the original was. Was it? Seriously? Arnie is better of portraying a cyborg than attempting to pull off a human being. Some plot device about an alien reactor conveniently left unused? The whole core of Mars is ice? Insta-terraforming to Earth normal pressure(with a pure O2 atmosphere) and leaving the core of Mars rather depleted? This was Paul Verhoeven directing, the same man who butchered Starship Troopers. "What if dis is all a dream?" "Well then kiss me quick before you wake up."

Whilst everyone is piling on the hate, this is closer to the original "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick. Quaid's character is a lot closer to the original Quail. As for the mind-bending said of it will, if you look at Total Recall 2012 and then re-read the story then it becomes pretty ambiguous as to whether the second half of the movie was real or not. As for the whole invasion thing - yes, that was how the story ended, sort of. Not a microwave meal terraforming. As for "Hauser," Quaid's motivation was, that he was actually a really nice guy deep down, if a little messed up. As for Kristen / Melina, it's probably intentional that they look similar (partly because Melina never existed). Melina is just like Kristen's "undercover" persona. The end fight between Kristen and Quaid makes this apparent - also that the final scenes of the movie might not be real, as the Philip K. Dick story implies.

The trouble is, you just don't see all of this because you're too busy looking for bits from the original Total Recall. It's not a Total Recall remake. It's another film adaptation of We Can Remember It For You, which borrows a few characters (partly because there only half a dozen in the 22 page short story). I only realized this when I reread the story.

As for the Fall, the actual elevator describes a hyperbolic path through the Earth's outer core and mantle, all of which are liquid. Since the core also rotates, it's impossible to drill through anything but the core axis. The elevator constantly accelerates *downward* (so the seats are actually oriented upside down immediately after the drop commences) and doesn't just drop.

Here is my reply to Troy’s comments:

January 9, 2013 2:37 PM
Fritz “Doc” Freakenstein:

Hello, Troy! Thank you for all the fascinating comments on Total Recall.

I think much of the love for 1990’s Total Recall is based on nostalgia. I grew up in the 1960s watching the classic (and not so classic) horror and science fiction films of the 40s and 50s, so I tend to be nostalgic - and hence less critical - about those films. Many people who write blogs today grew up in the 80s and tend to be more nostalgic about the films they watched from the 80s on video tape or at the theater in the 90s. While I was – and still am – a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s films, I do agree that he was not an actor, but more of a star. One of the reasons that his films, including Total Recall 1990, are filled with so many one-liners is because humor tends to off-set Arnold’s lack of credulity as a three-dimensional character. All science fiction films made by Hollywood contain some – and usually many – scientific errors. As long as they aren't too blatant to this non-scientist’s eyes, I’m willing to give them a pass in the name of entertainment or artistic license. The whole “Insta-terraforming to Earth normal pressure (with a pure O2 atmosphere)” sequence at the end of Total Recall 1990 was one mistake that really stood out to me. Because it was so essential to end of the film’s plot, it really kept me from liking it as much as I might have. Yes, as a reader of Heinlein’s novel, Paul Verhoeven indeed “butchered Starship Troopers”.

Not having read Dick’s story, I’ll have to take your word for it that “this [Total Recall 2012] is closer to the original ‘We Can Remember It for You Wholesale’ by Philip K. Dick”. Despite the many classic SF novels that I have read, P. K. Dick was never one of my favorite authors, so I've only read his novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep” after having seen Blade Runner, the movie which is based on it. As for which film accurately portrays the idea of what is real and what isn't real; I honestly think both films did not do an adequate job of this. These types of internalized ideas are very difficult to portray in a visual medium like film, so the fact that Total Recall 2012 lacked in this regard didn't bother me too much. I do think you make some good points defending the film’s attempts to do just that and perhaps I’ll catch more of them on a re-watch.

Obviously, I agree with you about Total Recall 2012. “It's not a Total Recall remake. It's another film adaptation of “We Can Remember It for You”, which borrows a few characters”, is a perfect way to describe the film, which is why I began my review of it saying pretty much the same thing. I've done some writing here at GOTG! on the subject of remakes, re-imaginings and prequel/sequels to classic film and how 99% of the time, people who love the original are going to dislike the remake.

I did quite a bit of research before I expressed my quibbles about the scientific accuracy of the gravity elevator used in Total Recall 2012 and I still stand by my reasoning that this simply would not be possible as portrayed in the film. If, as you say, ”the actual elevator describes a hyperbolic path through the Earth's outer core and mantle”, then it might be possible for this mechanism to work. I just thought I remembered the film describing the elevator as going in a straight line through the core of the Earth and not a hyperbolic path through the mantle.

It looks like I need to re-watch Total Recall 2012 with these ideas in mind. Thanks again for your deep and interesting comments on Total Recall and my review of it. Please do stop by again soon, Troy!

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