Tag: Sony Pictures
Directors: Len Wiseman
Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine
IT’S all too easy to dismiss Total Recall as yet another example of an unoriginal Hollywood remake whose only reason for existing is a an attempt at cashing in on a popular film from the ‘90s. But while the Schwarzenegger-led version of Total Recall and the 2012 take are both inspired by the Philip K. Dick We Can Remember it for You Wholesale novel, the Farrell-led sci-fi outing is more of a reimagining of the same material that quickly proves that it has a lot more to offer than treading familiar cinema territory.
Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is a factory worker married to a hot wife, Lori (Beckinsale) and living in a world where alleged terrorist attacks are a constant threat. His existence is mundane and he openly questions whether he should be doing more to his friend and co-worker Harry (Woodbine), all the while battling with the same sleep-destroying dream that features Melina (Biel) night in, night out. After a few too many beers, Quaid gives into the temptation to visit Rekall—a facility that offers implanted fake memories to escape the everyday—and the shit hits the fan.
The implant operator notices hidden memories of Quaid’s former life as a spy, and a group of armed-to-the-teeth police officers burst in and attempt to arrest Quaid. Terrified and compliant, Quaid’s muscle memory kicks in when an officer attempts to cuff him, and he wastes the police group in a breath. After narrowly escaping fuzz reinforcements, Quaid relays the story to his Lori who turns on him. All is not as it seems, and Quaid must outrun Lori and the law while attempting to unlock his past self, buried deep within his mind.
Len Wiseman’s world is a breathtaking affair, beautifully shot and as visually memorable as the likes of the future Earth in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. The distinction between the dystopian split of the upper-hemisphere privileged citizens, versus the slum-like state of those that live in “the colony” (yes, that refers to a sci-fi Australia) is a joy to behold in every long shot of this believable future world.
But the real shining star of Total Recall is how much action it manages to cram into its 118-minute runtime. There are no shaky-cam techniques at play here, so you can actually make out what’s happening in the various car chases, firefights and good ol’ fashion fisticuffs that raise the bar with each instance.
If you go into Total Recall expecting to be blown away with an Inception-like level of depth, compelling dialogue or expert characterisation, you’re seeing the wrong film. In most instances, the dialogue and characters are about as deep as the Arnie film, but the actors are also having a lot of fun in the process. Farrell has the onscreen chops to carry the film, while Beckinsale continues to show that she can believably kick arse (especially against the guys), and offers more than a match for the Farrell/Biel combo. Even Bryan “I’m in every film lately” Cranston sinks his teeth into his portrayal of the main bad guy, making the most of what little screen time he has.
It’s necessary to leave your expectations of a straight remake of the 1990 Total Recall at the door in order to get into the spirit of the film; but then, this Total Recall really isn’t trying to mirror what went before. There are more than a few nods to the Arnie film, but Wiseman’s Total Recall has the cast, the budget and enough action to deserve respect on its own merit, while simultaneously justifying the cost of a ticket. Perhaps most refreshingly, everything that Total Recall promises in the trailer is delivered in the film; how often can you say that these days?
TOTAL RECALL is in cinemas now.
Review: Nathan Lawrence
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Director: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon
Take Shelter has been a long time coming to the big screen, given that it premiered at Sundance Film Festival and was summarily acquired by Sony Pictures in January.
Michael Shannon stars as family man Curtis who is plagued by dreams about the end of the world. Such is the impact of Curtis’ dreams that he starts to plan for their occurrence.
An unfortunate dream early on in the piece about his dog attacking him leads to Curtis forcing the inside dog outside and behind a fence. And when Curtis’ dreams begin to consistently reflect a storm of biblical proportions, he starts to work on fortifying the family’s dusty storm shelter.
Fearing what his wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) will think, Curtis tries to keep his storm shelter renovations a secret. But there’s only so much discrete potentiality when trying to drop a shipping container in the backyard to expand the storage potential of your existing storm shelter.
The problem is that their hearing-impaired daughter Hannah (Tova Stewart) requires life-changing surgery that’s dependent on Curtis’ job-supplied life insurance. And considering he’s been borrowing company equipment to work on the storm shelter, Samantha is less than impressed.
Even though Curtis believes enough in his apocalyptic visions to start taking measures to protect his family from their potentiality, he’s not completely without reason. He secretly seeks professional help, protecting his family on two fronts: from his probable failing sanity and from the humanity-destroying storm that he believes is coming.
To reap the real rewards of Take Shelter, you’ll have to be prepared for a slow burn. Although Curtis’ dreams/visions are quite frequent and intense, the pacing of the film is very slow.
In fact, it’s a difficult watch in parts because of the constant dichotomy of the small family drama versus the constant musing over whether Curtis’ dreams will prove him sane or insane.
Even though Take Shelter does a good job of balancing out the potential insanity versus potential apocalypse push and pull, the further you get into the film, the more apparent it is that it can only end in one of those ways. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At the point where I started losing interest, Michael Shannon showed his acting diversity in a Curtis-versus-town confrontation scene that’s well worth the lead up. Thankfully, the ending also comes together in a wholly satisfying way that rewards the patient viewer.
Take Shelter may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for patient viewers looking for a different type of film with a strong character focus, this both impresses and, thankfully, makes a whole lot of sense by the time the credits roll.
TAKE SHELTER opens nationally on October 13, 2011
Review: Nathan Lawrence