Trailer Truth: Do the Ads Help or Hurt 'Total Recall'

Trailer Truth: Do the Ads Help or Hurt 'Total Recall'

Aug 03, 2012

I never watch a trailer until after I’ve seen the movie, and I also attempt to avoid as much news as possible. Then I compare what I knew, to what you knew. Let’s find out if what we see in the trailer is what we get, and if there is any advantage to going in fresh. (There will be spoilers.)


What I Knew Before: "It's not a tumor." Wait, that doesn't sound right. "If I am not me, then who the hell am I?" That's the line most of us remember Arnold Schwarzenegger chewing up and spitting out in 1990's Total Recall. Twitter told me a rumor that was probably true, but I'll save that for the "What I Knew After" section below. Colin Farrell took over the lead role, and I actually believe he hasn't had a bad performance since 2006's Miami Vice. I knew there were two incredibly hot women in supporting roles, but decided to not rack my brain trying to see if I remembered who they were.

What I Knew After: Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel, or as all teenage boys would say, "Hubba hubba." Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy, John Cho and Bokeem Woodbine also star. More importantly, the rumor from Twitter: No Mars. That is correct. While there is a quick reference to our Red Planet, the film never leaves Earth and there's no talk about a colony setting up shop there. The movie follows a familiar pattern with slight changes a long the way. Don't worry, there are still three boobs. The changes are more like a new way for Quaid (Farrell) to get through security instead of wearing a fat woman's head that can turn into a speaking bomb. Quaid does manage to say, "If I'm not me, then who the hell am I?" What do you expect, it's a remake.

It actually felt more like a combination of I, Robot, The 5th Element, Blade Runner and of course the original Total Recall. Once again, the technology behind the ability to implant memories isn't the focus, but instead it's about a guy running around. There are a handful of "wow" action moments that should satisfy the crowds. My hunch for the trailer is a heavy focus on the look (more like Blade Runner then the original film) and the combination of Beckinsale and Biel looking good and kicking some serious butt.


What You Knew: Quaid isn't happy with his life... yet his wife couldn't be hotter. So right away you know this is some sort of science fiction/fantasy. Rekall messes with your mind. Yeah, if you don't recall, they spell it with a "k." It looks like Rekall can turn you blond, just like Cho's character. So clearly they're messing with serious stuff. Quaid goes Jason Bourne on a bunch of police and then we're given a Beckinsale montage ending with, "You haven't even begun to see me try and kill you." Biel shows up at the 1:46 mark, with more montage. On-screen: WHAT IS REAL. Beckinsale and Biel fight. On-screen: WHAT IS RECALL. Zero gravity, big explosions and a flying car follow. "If I'm not me, then who the hell am I?" Cranston finally shows up, and then we see Quaid's face change a few times.

Trailer Truth: This is a film where you should check out the trailer. I'm serious. After all, don't you feel like you need a reason to see a Total Recall remake? It doesn't just sell itself. The gritty look of the film is clearly showcased in this trailer, as is almost every "wow" moment of action. The plot between two cultures/lands is completely ignored as it should be. You're seeing this film because you want sci-fi/action. The trailer lets you know there will be plenty.

Both the 1990 version and 2012 version fail to make Rekall (and the adventures you can have) any sort of focus, instead it's just a backdrop for action and a reworking of the agent/amnesia concept. The trailer doesn't reveal any one-liner between Farrell and Beckinsale. It actually seems like that's 50% of the dialogue in the film (and that's not a compliment). Speaking of Beckinsale, why let the audience know she is the villain in the trailer? Yes, if you're 35 years old or more, you know that Sharon Stone turned out to be bad, that doesn't mean everyone does. That's the only misstep. Otherwise, this trailer shows every trick in its movie bag, and while that might lessen some of the action when you see it in the theater, at least the marketers know they sold you.

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