A Movie I Knew To Be Bad

This scene isn’t nearly as funny in the Colin Farrel version. In fact, its like he’s not even trying to be funny.

Around 5 o’clock on Labor Day I saw my final kitties of the holiday weekend. That cat sit, with my boys Sam and Merv, marked the end of an absolutely brutal month at the office for your boy the (former)Stoney Film Critic.

In the dog-walking/pet-sitting world, there are two busy seasons: the Holidays, from Thanksgiving to NYE, and Summertime, June through Labor Day. I always find the Holidays exciting. Hordes of new clients come out of the woodwork as everyone scrambles to find care for their pets before they go home. This means new critters to be met and lots of money to be made.

I also really enjoy being in the city for Christmas. Pleasant visually, and also a unique feeling: to be alone all day, in the most populous city in the country, at a time when everyone else is either off work or out of town. The city slows down, in a way that you wouldn’t notice in a less crowded place. I find myself staring at nothing for minutes at a time and remembering things I haven’t thought about in years. Ever-wistful. I don’t know why winter in New York has this effect on me, but it does. Maybe winter in any big city would. The point is, no matter how hectic my job gets, I look forward to the holiday busy season.

Summer, and specifically August, is another matter entirely. Just as busy, if not more so, but for a different reason. My walkers take the majority of their vacation days in the Summer, and I cover their pups. My days are spent biking to and from other neighborhoods, and my nights are spent catching up on emails I missed during the day. Not a lot of time for movies in that routine, other than whatever white noise garbage I play on netflix while I’m emailing (Highlander 2, currently; this movie is fucking awful).

So on that day, when I bid adieu to Sam and Merv, I hopped on the L train and headed to Union Square. I was treating myself to a movie, damn it, at long last. And I was gonna eat Chipotle beforehand, too*. The old routine. A night to remember.

*Clocked myself at 10 minutes in Chipotle. Door to door. Dine in. 

Were I a saner man, I’d have used the Batmin to wet my nerdy whistle. But alas, something about the public’s reaction to The Dark Knight Returns soured me on the franchise. I realize this is ultimately my fault. But maybe also, society’s fault? I mean, did you guys really think Ledger was that awesome? Do you really like Maggie Gyllenhaal? Hey, I’m just asking questions.

I wanted to see Total Recall. Can’t say why, exactly. I knew it couldn’t possibly be good. And yet, there is something inside me that wanted to see it. Nostalgia for the Arnold version? Perhaps. Bad taste? Sure, a little. Although to be fair, I’m not sure its bad taste if you go in expecting a poor showing. Isn’t bad taste thinking bad things are good? What do you call it when you want to see something you know will be bad?

Its like I can’t talk myself out of it. I hear about a movie, my knee-jerk is to want to see it, and thats that. No amount of valid evidence can change that initial reaction. One $14 ticket to Total Recall, please.

I’m not a Colin Farrell guy. Is anyone, really? Any man? I mean, its not like I hate him. As a leading man, he just doesn’t interest me. The exact opposite of Arnold in the original, basically.

The plot is largely the same, with Australia filling the approximate role of Mars. I actually kind of liked that. There was some sort of chemical war, and Britain and Australia are the only habitable zones. Britain is rich, Australia is poor, and workers from Australia have to “fall” through the earth in giant passenger shuttles to get to their menial factory jobs. This “fall” is seen as some sort of humiliation, although it looked like something I would pay money to do.

If they had gone into the history of why the chemical war happened, why those two zones survived, their relation to each other, basically anything fleshing out the world around the action, I would’ve found that interesting. Action movies don’t really do that, though, and this one certainly didn’t. All we know is Australia is futuristic-ramshackle, and Britain is futuristic-clean. The former achieves a certain Blade Runner feel. The latter is more I, Robot.

I should just declare right off the bat that I loathe chase scenes. They bore me to tears. And this movie, of course, was full of them.

Quaid Breaks out onto the roof! Jumps to the next roof, then the next one, then the next one, then doooooown…..to another roof! CRASH into an apartment (bewildered occupants! Tee hee!), BUST through a wall, out onto…..a roof! Awning, gunfire, roll, thud, groan, look around. Safe! Or is he?!?!

It is crazy to me that directors choose to waste their precious minutes on stuff like this. Its become cliché to rip on car chases, but can we talk about cross-roof chases? Is it possible they’re even more boring? No, actually, not possible. Still way boring though. And not accurate to real life. People only go out on roofs to get stoney by themselves, everyone knows that.

There’s also a futuristic car chase. Magnetic streets in the sky, tons of inept cop cars, crash at the end. I think you can fill in the blanks.

Most of the movie is Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel being chased by Kate Beckinsale and a bunch of these robots they call “synthetics”. Funny name, right? Or have I lost touch, and think any stupid robot name is funny? The Synthetics also had a bit of an I, Robot feel, if I can go ahead and re-reference that one.

I should get back to Biel and Beckinsale. They are both extremely hot. The fact that I am into Biel brings me shame, as she’s an awful actress and seems like a pretty terrible human being. Still, on looks alone, she merits a perfect 10.

Her performance, however, scores right in her standard 3-4 wheelhouse. As usual, its obvious at all times that she isn’t her character. I wasn’t laughing at her or anything, she’s just consistently mediocre. This holds true for every part she’s ever played, as far as I can tell. Except Blade: Trinity, in which she was obviously awesome. Word is Biel and Ryan Reynolds went total method acting on that one.

Beckinsale is what, a half-tick better? Looks like she had surgery of some kind on her face. Can’t say I approve of that. She’s playing the part Sharon Stone did a weird, bad job with in the original, so there was nothing to fall short of. She probably did it better, actually*. Had me forgetting her inevitable heel turn, so kudos to her I guess.

*Am I the only one who thought Stone’s performance in the original Total Recall was totally bizarre? It was like she was suppressing a grin the whole time.

I wonder how I’d feel if I saw the original for the first time today? Am I crazy to think I’d still like it? Some of Arnold’s movies actually hold up pretty well, particularly when compared to the reboots. The new Conan made the originals look like they were directed by Stanley Kubrik.

The bottom line is the new Total Recall falls right into that bad, but not bad enough to be funny dead zone. There’s no lesson here. Just a ticket stub in a pile. Summer blockbusters be stankin’.

Although I sure did like Prometheus. I guess there is a lesson: when a movie looks like it is going to be bad, and is said to be bad, it is most likely bad. Except, of course, when that movie is Congo, which is obviously good no matter what it looks like or what anyone says.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “A Movie I Knew To Be Bad

  1. Beans

    Has it seriously been over a year since the last SFC Review? I can’t believe I made it this far without one. Great form in your return Hatt. I can honestly say nobody other critic could provide this much entertainment reviewing a movie I knew was terrible, had no interest in seeing, and had already forgotten about prior to reading this review.

    I need more info about your Dark Knight Rises stance though. Pretty shocking to read that you haven’t treated yourself to that one yet. Am I in the minority in thinking it was just as good as (perhaps…better than?) the previous parts of the trilogy?

  2. konnor

    what a great roof bit. that’s the trouble with action movies. half the movie you got chases or fights. i’m like, just get to the dialog already!

  3. konnor

    beans, i had some trouble with the most recent batmin, but i think i found it more entertaining than the second one? i sure liked the first one.

    beans, i think i can relate to hatt’s aversion to the movie. the batmin worship has dampened the experience for me as well. and it didn’t seem nearly as prevalent during the first one, which is why i enjoyed it so much.

    i’d still say the newest one is worth watching. i mean, it’s probably about 10 times better than total recall?

  4. Ah Brownay

    Thanks Stoney. I’m not surprised that you chose TR over Batmin, and I’m glad you did. I know what you mean about big cities during the holidays; I always loved Chicago at Thanksgiving…sometimes if felt like that scene from Vanilla Sky where Cruse is driving his car down a totally vacant street. Be well.

  5. ah man…forgot to erase the first paragraph in that last comment.

    hatt, any theatre snacks worth discussing?

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