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Watching “Total Recall” and “The Dark Knight Rises” within a couple of days raises interesting questions. I got entangled in an argument about whether or not either of the two is “better”, and realized that this is not as easy as it sounds. At the end of the day, I do not agree that “Total Recall” is the better films, but it can be said that it is – provided you feel a certain taste for this – the more honest and less pretentious, maybe all in all more entertaining piece of action cinema. Of course it is interesting to watch Christopher Nolan fail with his efforts to bring seriousness and maturity into comics originally made for children (come on, no point to argue…), but it’s also a bit of a drag, and especially in the recent “Rises” installment a failed attempt, in my opinion. “Total Recall” is not pretentious, it is just straightforward production design meets kick-ass action.

As I am officially an old person, I always felt the comparison with the more light-hearted, at the time more innovative and certainly more grueling original Verhoeven movie end of up in me deducting points. If you go to see it with a bunch of people who have never seen that original camp masterpiece, however, you can get an experience of unadulterated joy and amusement. They like the sets stolen from Blade Runner, and those flying flat cars stolen from that film I cannot remember right now (I, Robot, I think), and they think that Collin Farell is awesome cute (that’s me thinking this, actually). While I felt a slight and increasing boredom the louder and more unrelenting the action sequences grew in the third act (car chases… who needs car chases, honestly?!), the younger audience was glued to the screen and the popcorn munching grew more frantic with every explosion.

I get it: people find it very hard to follow the twisted aesthetic and narrative mind of both Philip K. Dick and Paul Verhoeven – I would still guess that having a large-scale re-release of the old film would have had the same effect on the audience. This one is a bit too soft, too straightforward, too well crafted in some ways, it lacks the stunning originality and the dark humour of the original and only in very few moments acknowledges its roots. When it does, it does so cleverly, however, watch the scene when Quaid / Hauser gets through the security check and you will be happy to seen an old girlfriend.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/total_recall_2012/

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