Welcome to another edition of Side By Side where we dissect the differences and similarities between a film and its remake/reboot. This week we will be looking at the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi film, Total Recall and the 2012 remake of the same name starring Colin Farrell.
The original Total Recall is one of those films I've watched several times with my father and still love it. So when I heard there was a remake coming to theaters, I was very intrigued. The remake had a great cast, and a way more gritty feel to it, which definitely excited me. And after watching it, I realized that even though the two movies have pretty much the same story, they are two very different films, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.
So, now we are going to take a look at the differences and similarities between these two films, and what better place to start than the setting. The original Total Recall starts off on Earth, but eventually makes its way to Mars, and is chock full of mutants and aliens. The remake, however, remains on Earth for the entire film.
Since Mars is taken out of the remake, the main conflict in the film had to differ from the original. In Verhoeven's 1990 film, the Governor of Mars, Vilos Cohaagen, discovers an alien artifact that could threaten his control over Mars. A resistance force seeks to activate this artifact to give control of Mars back to the working-class people. But, in the 2012 Len Wiseman remake, we see Cohaagen, the leader of the United Federation of Britain (UFB), looking to take military action against the working-class people, who live in The Colony, because of several terrorist attacks from a resistance force looking to break away from the corrupt UFB.
Our ass-kicking, main character stayed the same, for the most part, between both films. Douglas Quaid is a blue collar worker living on Earth. In the original, he is a construction worker, while the remake shows him as a UFB factory worker who lives in The Colony. He discovers that he was really an agent for Cohaagen/UFB who is sent to infiltrate the resistance. He is married, in both, to Lori Quaid, a secret operative for the primary antagonist, Vilos Cohaagen/UFB, but falls for resistance fighter, Melina. We then come to find out that Quaid isn't Quaid at all. His real name is Hauser. In the original, Hauser is a close friend of Cohaagen and a ruthless gun for hire, while, in he remake, he's a UFB agent turned resistance fighter. In both films his true mission is simple...infiltrate the resistance and kill their leader.
Now, as I've already mentioned, the resistance plays a key role in both film. One major thing that was changed between the two, however, was the leader of this resistance. In the original, this leader is Kuato, a baby-sized, clairvoyant, mutant who happens to be attached to the belly of his brother, George. Kuato seeks to free Mars from Cohaagen's control. In the remake, brilliant actor Bill Nighy takes on the role of resistance leader Matthias Lair, an innocent man branded as a terrorist by Cohaagen. Lair hides out in the European wasteland while attempting to prevent Cohaagen's invasion of The Colony.
In the end, Quaid kills Cohaagen and frees the people from oppression. In the original, this is done by activating the alien reactor, which spreads breathable, oxygenated air across the Martian landscape, whereas in the remake, this is done by taking down the invading robot forces and destroying the connection between UFB and The Colony, known as "The Fall".
As I stated earlier, these are two very different films that happen to share the same basic story and characters. Because of this, hardcore fans of the original probably disliked the remake, whereas the new generation of film goers who haven't seen the original most likely enjoyed it. I'm one of the few who truly enjoyed them both. So, head on out to your local video store and pick up a copy of both these films and give them a watch. See if you pick up anything interesting that I may have missed, and check us out next time on another edition of SIDE BY SIDE!