Remakes, sequels, and prequels are hot properties for Hollywood as studios churn out these types of films on a regular basis. This summer, audiences have been introduced to new franchises “The Amazing Spiderman”, said goodbye to popular trilogies “The Dark Knight” and blended a mega-franchise into one blockbuster “The Avengers”. This trend does not seem to be slowing down; next year, Hollywood will reimagine “Oz” and give “Superman” flight once more.

Remakes, sequels, and prequels are hot properties for Hollywood as studios churn out these types of films on a regular basis. This summer, audiences have been introduced to new franchises “The Amazing Spiderman”, said goodbye to popular trilogies “The Dark Knight” and blended a mega-franchise into one blockbuster “The Avengers”. This trend does not seem to be slowing down; next year, Hollywood will reimagine “Oz” and give “Superman” flight once more.

But it’s worth asking why Hollywood would choose to remake an already successful film. Does the remake improve upon the story of the former film? Or is it meant to introduce the film to new fans with an updated visual design? The new film “Total Recall” is worth exploring to answer these questions.

This film, based on the 1990 film of the same name (which is based on short story by Philip K. Dick), does not stray far from its predecessor. It’s about Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) who visits a company – called Rekall – that implants its clients with fake memories of the life they wish they could have led. Quaid begins to suspect sinister happenings after a Rekall representative, McClane (John Cho), finds him and says that Quaid’s memories have been erased.

“Recall” benefits from the advancements in visual effects and CGI. This film looks slick and boasts a wide array of action sequences, especially a flying car chase that might have looked cheap two decades ago.

However, its special effects do not enhance its visual appeal, as the first film managed to create suspense through a dystopian vision that did not seem so artificial. In fact, its special effects team received a Special Achievement Award at the Oscars that year.

And even with its outdated visual effects, the film still holds up through solid performances (one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most exciting roles) that bring out the humanity of the characters. Modern audiences should have no problem appreciating the previous version despite its visual glitches.

“Total Recall” – although fun at times – is just another example of one of Hollywood’s flaws: frivolous storytelling. This movie was not necessary, just as the remakes of “Psycho” (1998) and “Planet of the Apes” (2001) were not. In a year with such imaginative films, such as the excellent “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” it’s a shame Hollywood is not placing its resources elsewhere.

Running time: 121min
Rating: PG-13

 

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