Total Recall (2012)


Trust Me, Baby, You’re Gonna Wish You Had Three Hands.

Total Recall (2012)Remakes get a really bad rap. But, most of the time, they deserve them. Remakes are usually a sign that Hollywood has run out of ideas and must dig into movies that have already been made instead of supporting a new idea. It typically gets even worse when the movie that’s being remade is a movie that’s generally agreed upon as a movie that does not require a remake. If we already have that movie and it was good, you’re probably not going to add anything to it. All of that lead to me not really having a great desire to watch today’s movie. But when my end of the year review was approaching, my standards lowered and I decided to watch the remake of Total Recall, loosely based on the short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, written for the screen by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback, directed by Len Wiseman, and starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy, Bokeem Woodbine, John Cho, Ethan Hawke, and Kaitlyn Leeb.

In the near future, war has devastated the Earth … because no movie can let us think that we have anything to look forward to. The world has mostly mellowed out, but a group of resistance fighters still occasionally cause trouble for the Man. A factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) decides to visit a place called Rekall to get some artificial memories implanted to add some excitement to his life, even though his bangin’ hot wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) and straight-jackin’ best friend Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) warn him against it. The Rekall employee, Bob McClane (John Cho), suggests that Quaid try out their secret agent package, but also warns him that past memory augmentations could create problems. Suddenly, Bob gets agitated by something on the computer and pulls a gun on Quaid, but is killed by a SWAT team that arrive and attempt to arrest Quaid, who proceeds to beat the snot out of all of them with skills he didn’t realize he had. Confused, he goes home to his wife, who perplexes him further by going all Death Dealer and trying to kill him. He eventually gets rescued by Melina (Jessica Biel), who tells Quaid that he is a spy working with the Resistance. Is this all a fake memory?! IS IT?!?!?!? ANSWER ME!!!!!

Some people gave this movie a hard time because they have such fondness for the original that they could not stomach the notion of it being remade. The difference between those people and me is that I have no particular fondness for the original. I saw the movie much later in life than most people did, and found it entertaining enough, but dated and extremely goofy in parts. That didn’t stop me from finding the irony in the fact that the studio behind this movie was called “Original Film” though. I mean, that’s balls! To call yourself “Original Film” and put out a movie that is a remake of a movie that was itself based on a book is pretty amusing to me. But, once I got into the movie, I actually found that I liked it more than I liked the original movie. It wasn’t terribly goofy and the action and visuals had drastically improved from the original. The opening perplexed me a little bit because it pretty much gave away the fact that Quaid worked for the Resistance, and only thinly veiled that by writing it off as a dream sequence, but when I got to thinking about it I realized that they were probably well aware of the fact that the people seeing this movie had probably already seen the other movie and that trying to act like it was a surprise would’ve just been a waste of time. But from that point on I was on board with the story pretty much all the way through. Sure, it wasn’t drastically different from the original movie, but who cares. It was a fun movie. I did get a little perturbed by the scene with Harry, where he’s trying to convince Quaid to shoot Melina because he was trying to convince him that he was trapped in the Rekall machine and couldn’t get out without shooting her. I feel like that moment would’ve been really easy for me. Just shoot the guy! If you kill him, then he was lying and was working for the enemy. If you don’t kill him because he wasn’t real, then he wasn’t real and who gives a shit? And let that be a warning to all of my friends: if you try to convince me I’m in a dream world, my first response will be to try to kill you.

The look of this movie took drastic steps in the right direction. The future world was very well-realized. They didn’t go horribly over the top with the future technology, but they also didn’t just set it in today’s world and say it was the future. I particularly liked the LCD Phone he had in his hand that he could touch to glass to display pictures. Take that, Samsung Galaxy Note 2! Acting all big and bad and shit! (This review is sponsored by the LG Optimus G. “If you want a phone, go with the O.G.”) One of the pieces of technology in this movie was the money they used in the future, the Obamoney. …Cute… The action in the movie was mostly over-the-top, but definitely fun to watch, even though the camera could go a little crazy in some of the scenes. I probably could’ve done without a lot of the music in the movie. I assume what I was hearing a few times in this movie would be considered “dub step,” but I really have no way to be sure. I’ve been graced enough in life to have little to no experience with dub step beyond hearing people make fun of it.

I really didn’t have a lot to say about the performances in this movie. Literally. The only note I took in the performances department was: “Bokeem Woodbine. ‘STRAIGHT JACKIN’!” And even that is just a joke meant strictly to amuse my friend Phil and me. Not that anyone in this movie did a bad job; it’s just that I didn’t have anything to say about any of them. …Any of them save for one. The crowning achievement in this movie was the performance by Kaitlyn Leeb who played the Three-Breasted Woman. YAY! THEY GAVE US THE THREE-BOOBED CHICK! That’s almost entirely all I remember about the original movie!

It’s probably not a popular opinion to admit that I enjoyed this movie more than I enjoyed the original Total Recall. The story was roughly the same but thankfully much less goofy than the original, and the visuals and the action were far better. And the performances included Bokeem Woodbine and a chick with three boobs, so I’m down with them as well. I don’t know if I’d feel the need to buy the movie, but it’s definitely worth checking out as a rental. Total Recall gets “The past is just a mental construct” out of “And by the way, you haven’t even begun to see me try to kill you!”

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Underworld: Evolution (2006)


We Are Oddities of Nature, You and I

Continuing on into the Underworld makes me feel like Hercules or Dante.  Well, not really like Hercules, but I’m totally a poet like Dante.  That’s the facts, right there.  Also, that’s probably the smartest joke I’ll ever go for.  Let’s get back to talking about poop!  Underworld!  Okay, that was harsh.  Underworld turned out to be a pretty good movie, but one I remembered being better.  Unfortunately, I remember them going downhill pretty quickly into the third one, but I have not yet made my impression of the fourth one known.  Let’s see if that recollection still holds true as I review Underworld: Evolution, written again by a different Danny McBride than the one we are all thinking, directed again by Len Wiseman, and starring Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Tony Curran, Derek Jacobi, Brian Steele, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen, Steven Mackintosh, Shane Brolly, and Zita Gorog.

Way back in the day, the three vampire elders – Viktor (Bill Nighy), Markus (Tony Curran), and Amelia (Zita Gorog) – are trying to track down Markus’ brother, William (Brian Steele), a werewolf who is going around making more Lycans that are savage beasts, unable to return to human form.  They finally capture William and have him imprisoned for all eternity, but Markus is not too cool with his bro-wolf being treated like a bitch.  Back to the now, the events of the last movie have set up Markus to awaken from his slumber, and he promptly kills the shit right out of Kraven (Shane Brolly) who, let’s face it, had that shit coming.  Elsewhere, the vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and the hybrid vamplycan Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman) are driving around, occasionally stopping to fight things and fuck each other.  After killing Viktor, Selene is having memories pop of of when her father built the cage that holds William, so they’re looking for answers about that.  They stop in to see Andreas Tanis (Steven Mackintosh) and later look for the original immortal, father of Markus and William, Alexander Corvinus (Derek Jacobi).  All this time, Markus is also looking to free his brother.  Eventually, these two paths will probably converge.

This one’s probably about on par with the original.  The story takes a bit of a step down, being all about this chase to find some people’s jewelry that opens a sarcophagus restraining a big doggy.  It may even border on confusing, since everyone’s looking for the same necklace/ribcage bling (you’ll have to watch the movie to get that) and Selene barely knows what’s going on until her memories come back.  It’s constantly cutting back and forth between Markus and Selene to see what they were doing and I may have gotten confused, which may have not happened if I were paying more attention but, hey, that’s their fault.  Make a more interesting movie next time!  The action was a decent step up at times in this movie though.  There were a couple of solid fights and action scenes, and people actually tended to hit what they were aiming at.  I had a couple of issues with the climactic final fight of the movie though.  And, because it’s the final fight, I suppose there may be ::SPOILERS::  The fight is basically Michael and Serene versus William and Markus.  First off, Michael remains completely ineffectual, even though he’s the super hybrid.  I know he has no fight training or anything, but he basically just gets his ass kicked a lot.  He is the one that finally kills William by ripping his upper jaw off, and that was pretty badass, but I don’t know how much credit you can give him for beating William.  William is the super powerful first of all Lycans, but his strategy in this fight is to do a lot of standing in one place howling as he’s getting tons of bullets emptied into him.  Markus shows himself to be a pretty big badass by pulling a helicopter out of the air by the cable it has draped into the arena, and then goes to fight Serene.  They fight on a bridge with the still spinning blades of the helicopter right next to it.  Knowing that Serene is the heroine of this movie, you will never expect how their fight – stationed immediately next to spinning helicopter blades, mind you – will end.  It may shock you to find that he is knocked into the spinning helicopter blades.  Sure, you see it coming from a mile away, but it was pretty sweet.  ::END SPOILERS::  The look of this movie also improves a little.  The most notable improvement is that a pair of tits makes it’s way onto this movie.  Unfortunately, they aren’t Beckinsale’s.  Other than that, the Lycans are a little more convincing, and the amount of fake blood is probably doubled for this movie.

The performances were mostly by the same actors, so you can be assured that the performances have not changed drastically from the first movie.  Kate Beckinsale still looks good in them skintight suits, having decided against splurging on Haagen Dazs with her check from the first movie.  I thought it was strange that she kind of acted a little trepidatious about getting her freak on with Speedman, even though they had already had some good make out sessions.  I guess there’s a chance she was a virgin, though, so she might’ve been hesitant to give that up.  Everyone acted like the 40 year old virgin was so sad, but Selene could have been the 121 year old virgin for all we know.  Scott Speedman continued to not impress me.  I wanted this hybrid to be awesome, but he really never does anything impressive.  The most impressive thing about him is that he is constantly coming back from situations that should have killed him.  So can cockroaches, and I don’t call them badasses either.  Get your shit together, hybrid!  Tony Curran is the new, big baddie for this movie, and most of the time he’s pretty good and intimidating.  Derek Jacobi was also pretty good as Alexander Corvinus, but neither of them really gave me anything much to talk about.

Underworld: Evolution manages to not drive the series down.  If you liked Underworld, you’re probably down with this one too.  I probably appreciated this movie a little more because, though the story that never interested me too much stepped down a bit, the action that I liked amped up slightly.  It also looked much better, having probably benefited from the success of the first movie.  I own this movie on DVD, just as I do the first one, and I think it’s definitely worth a watch.  Problematically, I remember disliking the third movie in this series, so much so that I actually never purchased it on DVD, even with my OCD-like need to complete series in my DVD collection, and that one is up next.  We’ll find out how that one goes tomorrow, but for now Underworld: Evolution gets “You depend on blood” out of “You are unwelcome in my presence.”

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Underworld (2003)


A Full-Grown Man Bit You?

I recently found myself on a trip from work, and mostly superbly bored.  Thankfully, there was a movie theater within walking distance of the hotel I was staying at.  I was saved!  During the course of this week, I managed to fit in two movies.  Today’s movie is not one of them.  Now, before you go crazy about that long introduction to nothing, it does relate to today’s movie.  The movie I saw in the theater was the fourth part of this series.  But, before I reviewed the newest one, I felt like I needed to review the previous three.  Today, we get started with the movie Underworld, written by Danny McBride (not THAT Danny McBride) and Kevin Grevioux, directed by Len Wiseman, and starring Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Erwin Leder, Sophia Myles, Kevin Grevioux, Zita Gorog, and Wentworth Miller.

As we all know, vampires and werewolves do not get along.  We join this fray as two of the vampire’s elite soldiers, the Death Dealers, are tracking a group of werewolves, here called Lycans, who are themselves tracking a guy named Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman).  This situation devolves into a fight between the Death Dealers and the Lycans, and only the Death Dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale), the Lycan Raze (Kevin Grevioux), and Corvin walk away in tact.  Selene determines that the Lycans were hunting Corvin, but doesn’t know why.  I’ll tell you, Selene!  It’s because their leader, Lucian (Michael Sheen), is trying to create a hybrid of the vampires and the Lycans, and Michael Corvin is the last remaining descendant of the original immortal, Alexander Corvinus, and the only one likely to survive taking on the vampire and Lycan diseases simultaneously.  Selene is also not having fun times at home because Kraven (Shane Brolly), the guy currently running the household, is trying to tap that and she’s having none of it.  She wants to wake up her father-figure, Viktor (Bill Nighy), to help her fix a few issues, like the Michael situation and the fact that only Kraven asked her to the prom, and he’s so totally lame.

I remembered this movie being better than it turned out to be.  After having just recently watched the fourth movie, I expected this movie to be heavy on the action and light on the story, but this movie felt a little like the opposite.  The story is pretty good and interesting, but it definitely could’ve used more action, in my opinion.  The story is vaguely a mystery, but it’s never really kept all that mysterious to the audience.  We pretty much know what’s going down.  The characters in the movie remain oblivious to it much longer.  After that, it’s not a whole lot more than your average vampire/werewolf movie.  But, in a world where vampires go into the sunlight and become gay sparklefarts, this movie gets a little more love from me.  There were a couple of good lines in the movie as well, like when Michael was asking Selene what they do with the bullets after they interrogate the Lycans and she said “We put the bullets back in.”  They also did a good job hiding the big betrayal at the end of the movie.  But, on this watching, I found myself a little let down by the amount of action.  It was mostly cool and stylized when it happened, but it was pretty spread out here.  They probably assumed their story was a lot more compelling than I actually found it, but they should’ve given us a little more, and probably a little better action.  First of all, these bitches in this movie couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn from three feet away.  98% of the bullets fired in this movie hit everything around their mark, but never the mark itself.  The only time I can presently remember anyone hitting what they aimed for was when Selene decided the best method for retreating was to point her guns at the ground and spin in a circle, effectively cutting a hole in the ground for her to fall through and then run off.  And speaking of falling: the director apparently loves to watch Beckinsale drop from high places.  We watch her jump from high locations and drop lightly to the ground about 10 times in this movie.  It’s not particularly interesting visually, so I’m not sure why I was watching it so much.  It seemed like the director was thinking that we may have forgotten that she was a vampire, so they better do something that other people couldn’t, like drop from 6 stories up and walk it off.  But I was with you, Wiseman, you don’t have to keep showing gravity’s money shots all the time.  The werewolves in the movie could’ve looked better, most of them being fairly reminiscent of Tokka from the second Ninja Turtles movie.  Sometimes they were entirely CG, but not all that convincing.  Other times they were kind of animatronic but they didn’t move very fluidly.  The vampires had a much easier day in the makeup chair, just having to be pasty white and wear a pair of contacts.  It also occurred to me during this movie that wearing vampire teeth apparently gives most people what I called “kissy face”, but I don’t feel like defining what I mean by that.  YOU FIGURE IT OUT!  Their transformation is also nowhere near as impressive.  The transformations of the Lycans, from humans to werewolves, was actually pretty well done.  Their bones shift in a way that makes your skin crawl, and they pop out hair as if they were Ron Jeremy or something.  The vampires?  Their teeth get a little longer and they hiss at people a lot.  I did like the whole process involved with waking Viktor up, involving an elaborate mechanism to bring his coffin out of storage, then the blood has to be focused or else his performance when he wakes up will be really quirky, and then you attach some blood bags to his back for a couple of hours.

The performances in this movie were surprisingly solid.  Kate Beckinsale’s main goal in this movie seemed to be to wear skin tight leather and be ridiculously hot, and she knocks that part right the hell out of the park.  She also acted the part really well.  But at one point Kraven slaps her and, though she does that typical thing where she just looks right back at him defiantly, it made me wonder why the fuck this bad ass Death Dealer would let some asshole she hates already slap her in the face.  There was one weird scene where she, I guess, just took a shower and wrote the name “Viktor” in the fog on the mirror, then wiped it off.  I have no idea why this happened at all.  Thanks for wasting a minute of my life, movie!  Scott Speedman didn’t really do anything for me in this movie.  I was neither for nor against him.  I was hoping there would be a little more awesomeness out of him when he turned hybrid, but he was actually fairly ineffectual.  When he finally turns into a hybrid, his first big movie is to shove Bill Nighy like they were fifth graders on a schoolyard.  Granted, that shove put him through a wall and down a story or two, but it was a shove nonetheless.  Speaking of Bill Nighy, his quirky performance really works for the character here.  He was supposed to have fragmented memories, so his little weird mannerisms worked really well for it.  He was pretty bad in the fight scenes though.  He’s an old man, so I can’t blame him, but they maybe should’ve gone stunt double a little more than they did.  The first time I had seen this movie, I had no idea who Michael Sheen was, so I didn’t think much of him.  But having added Tron: Evolution and 30 Rock to my memories, I paid a lot more attention.  And he was really good.  He’s actually a funny, charming guy from what I’ve seen in interviews, but he can be a badass if he wants.  Shane Brolly is a very unlikeable character, but that’s what he’s going for.  It did bother me that he had this hot chick hounding after his nuts for probably centuries, but didn’t really catch on until the events of this movie.  That begs the question: How many Kravens does it take to screw in a hot blonde?  14, of course.

I remembered Underworld being much more awesome than it turned out being, but it was still enjoyable.  The story was good, but nothing really special.  The action was okay when it happened, but it should have happened much more.  And the look was pretty good, but they probably didn’t have very much money for special effects at this point.  We’ll see if that improves for the next movie.  But, for now, I still think Underworld is worth a watch.  I own it on DVD, and I don’t feel very bad about that.  So check it out if you haven’t already.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll be saying that the fourth Underworld is awesome, but you really need to catch up on the story to understand it.  Either way, Underworld gets “I want to stay with you…” out of “Your incompetence is becoming most … taxing.”

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