Thursday, July 29, 2010

Learning the wrong lesson: Columbia hires Len Wiseman to remake Total Recall.

Avatar made nearly $3 billion worldwide because it was a good movie, something that tapped into a worldwide cultural zeitgeist, engaged in true non-denominational spirituality, created a compelling romantic spectacle, and delivered incredible action sequences in breathtaking 3-D, right? No, apparently the only reason that Avatar made any money at all is because it was in 3-D. So, over the last year, studios everywhere have been rushing like mad to convert each and every single tent-pole picture into some form of 3-D. Because obviously Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story 3 would have been complete flops had they been presented in 2-D, right? Well, once again proving that Hollywood can always be counted on to learn the wrong lesson, the first major blowback from the success of Inception is a remake. Yep, Inception didn't become a word of mouth sensation because it was an original, intelligent, and thoughtful action picture in an era of remakes and reboots. No, Inception is a hit because it's about dreams. So the smartest way to cash in on its success is to remake Total Recall?

According to a press release, Columbia is in final talks with Len Wiseman, the man behind the Underworld films and Live Free or Die Hard, to helm a remake/reboot/re-whatever of Total Recall. That 1990 Paul Verhoeven classic is based on the Philip K. Dick short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale". It's also arguably the best film that Arnold Schwarzenegger ever made. Sure, we can argue for Terminator, Terminator 2, True Lies, or Kindergarten Cop, but Total Recall is still one of the brainiest action pictures to come out of mainstream Hollywood in the last twenty years. It's also one of the most violent R-rated films ever released, and every bit as ahead of its time regarding the corporate takeover of government (ie - fascism) as Robocop and Starship Troopers.

Sure we'll probably hear arguments about how this new version will 'hew closer to the original story', but considering that the original story is about twenty pages long, I'm guessing that this new version will either be a straight remake of the original film or perhaps something resembling the Showtime TV series that ran for a single 22-episode season in 1999 (if you've seen it, feel free to let me know how it played). Point being, it is beyond depressing that the studios are reacting to a major success of an original film by attempting not to create their own original properties but to simply mine their vaults for slightly similar films that can be remade ('Oooh... this one is about dreams too!'). Once again, Hollywood learns the wrong lesson, even when the most obvious conclusion (Inception was a good and original film that stood out in a sea of strip-mined adaptations) is the correct one.

Scott Mendelson


R.L. Shaffer said...

Allegedly they're throwing dream crap into the new X-Men movie, too.

Daniel Wheeler said...

the total recall tv show on Showtime was most excellent mostly cause they mixed in bits of Blade Runner intentionally into it.

but yeah it was great.


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