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‘Total Recall’ Film Review

Total Recall

Director/Directors: Len Wiseman

Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, et al

Rating: 12 (U.K.)/PG-13 (U.S.A.)

Genre: Sci-fi, action

Release Date: 2012

Rating: 3 stars (Average)

Is it real, is it recall: this is the tagline of the movie remake Total Recall, but is it the correct tagline? Science-fiction and action fans better buckle up; you’re in for a flawed yet entertaining time.

In this remake of the 1990 original, factory worker Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is fed up of his mundane, down-to-earth (pun intended) life, wishing there was something more. But once he visits Rekall, a mind-bending experience that allows you to live your wildest fantasies without ever leaving a chair, things begin to change for the worse. Suddenly everyone is after him, and Quaid begins to realise just how much danger he’s in. Enter a hover-car chase, plenty of shootouts, and an angry woman set on killing Quaid.

The story takes place entirely on Earth (unlike the Arnold Schwarzenegger original, which takes place on Mars), and the city is hard to ignore: it’s a beautiful, Blade Runner-come-Venice type deal, complete with higher and lower levels of construction. If there are any gamers out there, think of the place as the new Deus Ex game, and you’ll get the picture. The film is CGI-heavy, but it doesn’t detract from the experience, apart from maybe one or two scenes which look obviously fake. Basically, what this means is the backdrops of the story are just as important to take in as everything else, especially if you love technology and gadgets. The movie is far slicker than the original too, and one particular gadget really caught my eye: a fridge with an LCD screen to write messages. Small things like this really enhance the experience and draw you in, and ‘The Fall’ (a very interesting way of traveling between the United Kingdom and Australia) is just incredible to watch, and for writers, readers, and film-buffs who let their imagination run wild, stuff like this really makes the film worthwhile to watch. Even though, sadly, the invention wouldn’t quite work. Still, one can hope.

Unfortunately, there were some things which did not quite make this film a modern masterpiece. There were no outstanding acting performances in the film, and even Colin Farrell fails to make the main character memorable (Arnie’s charm in the original is undeniable). The beginning is terrible in the case of intense flashing lights, and I’m sorry to say that it was so bad that I had to look away, making me miss the first few minutes of the film. Of course it probably won’t be as bad when it’s released on DVD. Also, the two actresses, one ‘good’ and one ‘bad’, are sometimes hard to differentiate, especially during fight scenes, as neither have any unique features which set them apart from one another. Another minor point is that Bill Nighy’s American accent fails to impress, and seeing as his character’s stay is short, it definitely is a shame.

However, one thing continues to grate on me, and that’s the tagline: Is it real, is it recall. In the original movie, there are hints of the whole thing being Recall (meaning Arnold Schwarzenegger was imagining the entire thing the whole time) and also hints that it is indeed comletely true, making it the viewer’s choice to decide which it was. Whilst I am not going to spoil which it is in the remake, it’s pretty clear whether it is real or not, and that almost defeats the whole point of the film. Hint: in the original Arnie has to take a pill to ‘wake up’ in Recall, but let’s say in the remake the way to ‘wake up’ is a little more…drastic, and also it is a plothole. However, as I don’t like giving spoilers away (I hate them myself), I will say no more. 😛

To sum up, then, Total Recall is neither a genius piece of filmmaking nor is it a radically different step forwards in the genre. But as either a night in or a night out (depending on when you watch it), this is a film that will deliver action-packed sequences and a good time, and for those of you who have seen the original, there are a couple of cheeky nods towards the original. For those of you who haven’t seen the original and would like to, I suggest watching it before this one – it’s much better. And even though this Douglas Quaid wasn’t in quite as much of a predicament as the original Quaid, it is still worth the watch.

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‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Film Review

The Dark Knight Rises

Director/Directors: Chrisopher Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, et al

Rating: 12 (U.K.)/ PG-13 (U.S.A.)

Release Date: 2012

Rating: 4 stars (Very good)

Recently there has been a definite hype over superhero films, and it shows: the superhero genre gathers many fans every time a new film breaks through, such as The Avengers. But the Batman films have blown all others out of the water, and The Dark Knight Rises isthe finale of the trilogy. Whatever your thoughts on Batman, you cannot deny that this is the blockbuster of the summer.

While Batman Begins focused on Batman’s origins, and The Dark Knight enjoyed showing viewers all the chaos of Gotham, The Dark Knight Rises plays on your emotions, and it successfully delivers in this endeavour – Bane is the antagonist in this sequel, and he tests Batman both physically and mentally, making him the ultimate villain. The film takes place eight years after The Dark Knight, and Bruce Wayne refuses to leave his manor because of Rachel’s death. However, with Bane on the rampage, Batman is needed more than ever, and it’s Bruce that has to make the decision: do one last job as the Batman, or let Gotham crumble?

The beginning is slower than The Dark Knight, having a more common tie with Batman Begins. However, this time it is only cranking up the tension until it can take no more. But compared to the last two, this film seems less dark, both with its lighting and with its plotline. Yes, things happen which depresses you – after all, it’s Gotham! – but perhaps this film made more of an emphasis on Batman as a character, rather than his external affairs.

One thing I did not like about the film was the unnecessary romance that Bruce had with Miranda. Perhaps it was just me, but after about seven years of being holed up in a mansion grieiving about Rachel, suddenly he finds a ‘romantic interest’? I found this a little annoying, and frankly yanked me away from the plot a little bit. Also, another thing which I found mildly frustrating was Bane’s voice – a few of his lines were hard to hear and understand in my opinion, and this detracted from my enjoyment of the film.

One thing really stands out in the film, though, and that’s all the links, references and cameos. Scenes from Batman Begins return in The Dark Knight Rises, and the events from The Dark Knight alsocome into effect in this film. Different villains are mentioned or seen throughout e.g. Killer Croc and Scarecrow, and this was one of the nicest features about the film. Batman fans will, however, be able to see some twists coming, but this doesn’t lessen the experience in any way.

A fitting end then, and a film which ties up the trilogy nicely – although be prepared to shed a few tears. Christopher Nolan has done a wonderful job at bringing the Batman to life, making him realistic and gritty, and it’s a job that should be commended for years and years to come. Watch this film as soon as you can.

 

What did YOU think about The Dark Knight Rises?