It’s the announcement that breaks many a film fan’s heart. A beloved effort, a movie they can’t imagine being any better or entertaining, is cleared for the commercial complaint known as the pointless remake. Immediately, fond memories are assaulted and considered classicism upended for another run at generational merchandising. Sometimes, the gamble pays off in ways wholly unexpected (David Cronenberg’s The Fly, John Carpenter’s The Thing). In other instances, more than time and talent is/was wasted.
Take the latest entry in this ongoing aesthetic debate—Len Wiseman’s Total Recall. Many have a very warm place indeed in their outsized action movie hearts for the original Paul Verhoeven/Arnold Schwarzenegger epic. It’s a quotable, entertaining hoot. This update, with Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel may be more high tech and ostentatious, but it pales in comparison to the crazy quilt camp of the original. Instead of being fun, it’s forced.