Is “Total Recall” (2012) a remake or not?
|Colin Farrell, in a menory-implanting machine that looks nothing like the one in the earlier version of “Total Recall,” of which this is in no way, shape or form a remake. Yeah, right. (AP photo)|
The makers of the new film “Total Recall” claim it is not a remake of the Paul Verhoeven-Arnold Schwarzenegger film. They claim it has more in common with the Philip K. Dick story, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” upon which the earlier film was based. As evidence, they point out that unlike the earlier film, there is not trip to Mars in the new film.
I haven't seen the film yet, but while I'd like to believe it's more faithful to Dick, it's plainly b.s. Aside from having the identical title, the same new name given to the protagonist (Quail in the story, Quaid in both films), the same domestic setup (he has a fake wife to help maintain the fake memories, and a real, rebel love interest) it also has one other detail that Dick didn't include: a three-breasted woman.Why? Because it's a freaking remake!
Why don't they want the film called a remake? I guess because remake is a dirty word. It suggests something secondhand, second rate. This is also b.s. Remakes are sometimes better than the original.
Case in point: John Huston's film of “The Maltese Falcon” was the third version of Dashiel Hammett's novel. The first two are barely remembered, even though one of them starred Bette Davis. But there have been no versions since. It is almost universally considered a classic, one of the best films ever made, where the writing, direction and casting all came together.
The earlier “Total Recall” has its fans, but I don't think it's considered a classic. It has some great action moments, some great paranoid moments, some great kitsch moments, but it is also a big mess. That it is better known than other films of its era is due to Arnold's charisma and star power. I don't know if this version is better, or will endure as long, but it would not exist without Verhoeven's version. For that reason, and it's shared deviations from Dick's short story, I say it is a remake, for better or worse.