Remakes, Remakes, Remakes. I cannot begin to explain my animosity at the concept of remakes in this day and age. However, I can respect a film with superior acting and balance between computer graphics and reality. When I first heard Total Recall was being remade I fell off my chair. When Nightmare on Elm Street was re-imagined I felt sick, and when Fright Night was redone I cried. Finding out that the 1988 cult class Night of the Demons was remade, honestly, made me want to vomit after watching.
Being bored today, I finally decided to watch the new Total Recall and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the film. Being a big fan of Colin Farrell–regardless of the flop that was Fright Night–Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel the actors gave the film justice, where a fresh new cast would have sent this movie into the recesses of the mind that only the eponymous Recall could retrieve it.
I’m a child of the 90s, and I know that even many a film from my day was a remake of a black-and-white film or two that came out before I was born. The only difference is that these were few in number, were often considered indirect sequels, or like many of the vampire films following Dracula they were subtly restricted by Copyright laws. Although Bram Stokers: Dracula with Gary Oldman was the closest to the original novel and is my all-time favorite movie.
Total Recall (1990), was your average run-of-the-mill sci-fi action movie taking place in a dystopian society. Even though Schwarzenegger’s movies were action-based, one can’t help but see their comedic value due in no small part to his accent and unusual superhuman qualities.
Back in the day science fiction was a vision of what could be, e.g. advanced technology, spaceflight, holograms, genetic manipulation, cybernetics etc…there was the occasional sociopolitical commentary embedded into the story-line like Star Trek.
Never setting foot on Mars gives the setting a view of our current technological capabilities. Major advancements are shadowed by the usage of rustic buildings and pedestrian plazas that have not been replaced by overly futuristic structures of the old days. Furthermore, the concept of terrorism and workers rights are thrown into mix, which doesn’t exactly mirror any current issues, at least not in my mind as this is set in one possible future and is still downplayed by the dramatic action of the film.
Transitioning from Black-and-White to Talkies, Technicolor, and CGI has been the most obvious progression in film-making and it has been amazing. Yet, we have been rather stuck in the computer realm. Movies are being remade within a 20 year or less time frame and all they are doing is adding unnecessary graphics, in particular horror movies, while in the originals they were more realistic for their time.
With all this innovation, why can’t film makers come up with more completely original films?
Not to say there aren’t.
I used to think that the heights of our future ascendancy as a society would be determined by our fiction. What has often been considered science fiction has actually been invented. Technology that human beings could only imagine has progressively in small forms come into reality–although we still don’t have flying cars and spaceships.
Re-imagining films is supposed to make them accessible to the current generation. In my opinion many of these films are not meant for this generation. The humor and mature subject matter is beyond them. I used to watch cartoons that had more substance then the entertainment media that is out now.
“An illusion no matter how convincing is still just an illusion,” Quaid (Farrell) says to John Cho’s character at Rekall.