Tag Archives: Colin Farrell

Movie Review: Total Recall (2012)

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I was a pretty big fan of the original “Total Recall” film with Arnold Schwarzenegger, so when I heard they were doing a re-make, I was pretty revved up. Although not as hulking as Arnold, Colin Farrell is a good actor with a pretty decent resume. The film also stars Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel, some serious eye-candy for us guys.

 

They changed a lot in this film with respect to the original. To a certain extent, that’s good. I find it kind of annoying to go into a remake and watch exactly the same film, but with different actors. Why bother? On the other hand, I think this film went too far in the opposite direction. The whole plot was changed. It doesn’t even involve the planet Mars at all. Everything occurs on Earth. They tried to preserve a number of elements from the original, but even these were altered for the sake of artistic liability. But, if you saw the original, the alterations don’t strike you as particularly creative. For example, instead of reaching up his own nose with a giant metal thingy to pull out a bug that’s on him like Arnie, Colin Farrell must instead cut open his hand and pull it out of his palm. That’s kind of like how in all the new vampire flicks when the master vampire is converting a victim to vampirehood, he must slash his own wrist, or arm, or knee, or whatever, so long as it isn’t his breast like in the original, to complete the conversion. Rather than come up with something completely new, we’ll just slightly alter what’s come before (I think in my own vampire book I used both breast and wrist). There were a couple other instances like that in this new version of “Total Recall.” But ultimately, the movie was a completely different story. I think they would have been better off naming it something else and not inviting the comparison to Arnie’s previous sci-fi blast.

 

All right, a little bit about the story. It is set in a futuristic Earth where much of the planet has been devastated by chemical warfare. Only the United Federation of Britain and The Colony (Australia) remain. The main character is “Douglas Quaid,” soon to be revealed as “Carl Howser,” a super-spy with his memory erased and an entire new life implanted. He’s living a quiet life as an assembly worker, building the super-robot police force for the evil chancellor, Mr. Cohagen. Then one day, Quaid decides his life is not what he wanted and he wants some new, more interesting memories, and he visits “Rekall,” a company specializing in memory implantation. All is well and good, until he sits down for the process. His operator realizes Quaid is really a spy, just before all hell breaks loose. The police come busting down the door, there’s a gunfight, and Quaid escapes. Thus begins his journey to reclaim his memory and stop Mr. Cohagen from taking over the planet.

 

Overall, it wasn’t a bad movie. I heard bad things about it going in, but gave it a shot anyway. It’s not as good as the original, and, like I said, I think they should have just called it something else and done away with the “Total Recall” connection entirely. Anyway, I’ll give it three stars out of five.

Why Are Vampires Horrific? Mind vs. Monster

Legends of the vampire abound the world over. The myth has morphed from the tales told around a campfire to world-wide box office hits and best-selling books. Throughout, the nature of the vampire has slowly changed, or perhaps been deliberately muddled. In modern times, the vampire is undergoing even more change. In horror movies (as opposed to something like “Twilight”), an emphasis is being placed upon the vampire as monster. Where once the vampire of horror resembled a human being with only a pair of slightly-too-large sharp canine teeth as tell-tale signs of its true nature, it is now being more consistently represented as a hideous monster, or  a human-like being that transforms into a hideous monster when it is time to feed. With modern special effects it is relatively easy to make a creature horrific-looking: white-grey skin, finger-nails like claws, and mouths filled with row upon row of vicious, sharp teeth. Add to that a growling, beast-like visage, and the transformation is complete. But is all this “beefing up” of the vampire’s bestial nature necessary?

 

I would argue no. It works at a superficial level; the visual effect of a horrific vampire, such as the one Colin Farrell played in the re-make of “Fright Night” can be quite disconcerting the first time you see it on the screen. But that’s as far as it goes. To me, the greatest horrific characteristic of the vampire is its human-like intelligence. Here is a monster that feeds on humans, slaying them, transforming them into its own kind, and it is as smart as any of them, often times smarter with centuries of experience on its side. To me, that has the potential of creating a truly terrible monster, yet it is hardly used as well as it could be. To me, the visually horrifying vampire does the myth as a whole a disservice because part of the horror that came with the myth was the notion that the vampire appeared almost completely human—perhaps he was a little pale, and he had those two sharp teeth I mentioned, but beyond that it was easy to mistake him for one of us. A bite from a vampire seen at a distance could easily be mistaken for a kiss. Turning the creature into a hideous monster changes that dynamic in a fundamental way and something is lost when that happens. He becomes a killing machine, a mechanism for cheap thrills and slaughter. I prefer the vampire that plots and schemes, that has a plan. This requires more subtlety in the writing, but I believe it is worth it. A story where one can see and feel the intelligence of this diabolical adversary would be far more effective than simply presenting a brutal killer with supernatural powers.