Monday, June 11, 2012

I Can't Rekall

      So I reasoned that after reading We Can Remember It For You Wholesale and seeing a trailer for the Colin Farrell remake of Total Recall, it was time for me to see the sci-fi sensation for myself. I steeled myself for nonstop action thrills, with cheesetastic 80's effects (I know it came out in 90)...and I wasn't disappointed.  Total Recall starts off with Arnie running the beautiful red sands of Mars, and wishing and hoping to make that dream become a reality. There was a company that could accomplish this for him, none other than Rekall, a company promising virtual vacations. Things spiral downhill from there. What makes this film such a hit that it's worthy of a remake?
     I will answer that, but I'd like to break it down into a couple different categories. First of all, I'd like to discuss the origins, if I may.
     The story concept came from the wonderful Philip K. Dick, who has also given movie inspiration for films such as Blade Runner, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. His story however was only a short story titled 'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale', quite a mouthful. The story starts the same, with Quaid dreaming of Mars, and going to Rekall to get this memory implanted, he then discovers that this memory is already inside of on and so forth, until his old military buddies start trying to kill him. Then the story paths diverge. (SPOILER ALERT) In the short story, Quaid goes back to his apartment, and he realizes they are going to kill him there, he knows he can't escape, so he tells them that instead of killing him, they could just plant a new memory in, this time, something else he desired, something so strange he would believe it, something such as him saving the entire planet from a race of aliens when he was 9. Yeah, that ought to do it. Nope. Same problem as before. The memory was already there.
      The interesting thing about the movie, is that it takes what really matters from the story, and that is paranoia, and fear, and having your reality shattered, and apply it to their own use. Philip seemed to have come up with this concept on the fly....and left it as that, just a concept, so I left the movie smiling, since they had taken a unique sci-fi idea from his brain, added a simple character into that mold, then stirred in some of the good old ultra violence, some romance, and some world saving bravado, and you're done. It works, I have no complaints as to how they adapted it.
      Now on to the movie itself, The Effects: The effects were a center piece, if you've got arnold, and you've got sci-fi, you better have effects. I like use of animatronics and prosthetics to make Arnold capable of pulling that red pulsing booger out of his nose, and his awesome face hiding device...(the remake doesn't look like it will have this quite the same.) The set designs show they are dated, when I have a hard time believing they are on mars, and not a set. Overall though, not bad, especially coming in after Alien, and Aliens.
    Moving on, I would like to address someone dear to my heart. Arnold Schwarzenegger. For some reason every time I see him on screen he is fun to watch, even though in my opinion, there isn't much to watch. In fact he was the reason I watched this movie. I was telling a friend that Arnold really didn't have any movies he was good in. He named this one. So I had to watch this to see if it was any different. Honestly though, it wasn't. Not that Arnold ruined it, but he did nothing to make the role unique to him, that's why I'm ok with Colin filling the big man's boots. Let's look at it like this: Arnie can play any role, where is required to show no emotion...or way too much. In Total Recall, he couldn't stop his eyes bugging out, or shouting incoherently, or making cheesy catchphrases. Too much for me. Still love the guy though....GET TO THE CHOPPA!!! Anyway, enough bashing. To my final point: Story.
     What makes this movie catch more than the unique nature of its sci-fi-ness is the questions it raises.
     Questions then arise: Ethical questions, questions of our ability to discern our own sanity, questions of  trust. these are ingrained in us, and when brought to the surface, we go...huh....interesting, what WOULD I do in that situation. I think that even though this movie is mostly muscle and brawn, it brings up enough of the goods to leave an impression, which is why it has stuck around so long......that plus Arnold's bugging eyes....
      So the question then becomes, can the remake make it? I think if they stick to the formula of mind bending possibilities, ethical decisions, and keep the action to a good pace....not absurd; that coupled with Colin Farrell's worried face, and great possibility for emotion (In Bruges) brew up something that could exceed. Maybe. Not sure if I will remember it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

127 Hours

Watching 127 hours gives you a sense of perspective about yourself. First however lets look at the main character.
The film starts out with you learning hardly anything about the main character, which I think was very purposeful. He walks around his house grabbing things, but it's dark, leaving you unable to see anything. He then gets leave from work, which we see through a blurry security camera. Finally we see him out in the desert, riding his bike, and having a good time out there. So far we know he is a free spirit, he wants to stretch his legs, and hit the trails. Not a whole lot to go on right? Then we finally get him meeting with some girls, having a good time. A little more perspective. Then, suddenly he gets trapped. It's really quite early. Here's where I was wondering what they were going to do, since at that point, we weren't invested enough in our character to really give a crap if he got hurt or died, or whatever.

Then this movie really gets going with him being unable to free himself; he seems to finally be trapped...literally and figuratively. The impression is given, that he is always able to figure out these situations himself. His independence is highlighted when one of the girls says, "I don't think we even figure into his day." Suddenly he is trapped, and cannot get out himself, cannot call for help, and didn't let anyone know where he was. We begin to see the physical issues he deals with, which at first, don't seem too terrible, although, he looks highly uncomfortable, I especially think the idea of being stuck behind a rock, while having to sleep in an awkward possition would suck. Eventually though, after enduring watching him drink his own urine, and try different options, he begins to have flashbacks, and hallucinate. This is where I really liked it, because, the character was developed midway through the movie, which I found really interesting. As we go along, we start to really care about this guy. Yeah, he's made mistakes, problems with girls, problems with family, at one point he sees a small boy (turns out it is his son, which he ends up having later...and this really did happen.) and the tension of the situation is now, he is going to die, and we actually want him to win, I mean he's learned...he deserves it.

The whole time, you can kind of sense, he is summoning up his courage( or maybe that's just us if we know what happens) for what is the climax. He has to make a sacrifice, he has to cut off his own arm. He has to lose a part of himself. Now I know that this really happened, but you have to respect Danny Boyle at taking this story, and without tainting the truth, painting a story we can respect, care about, and using analogies of the human psyche. I mean for crying out loud, we watched a guy not move for over an hour on the screen, and found out about him, and his life; and to finally bring it around full circle after watching this I dove into my own character a little bit, and wondered how I'd react. I think the best introspection, is not only when we are alone, but when we are forced to be with only ourselves. I think what we find, can often be terrifying, enlightening, and life changing.