I have never once used the word “slog.” But man oh man this summer movie season has been a slog. The Avengers was a perfect little (big) piece of pop cinema, and there have been a few nice surprises like Magic Mike, but for the most part the summer of 2012 has felt more boring than any summer before it.
This is coming from a guy who adores big, dumb blockbusters. But even The Dark Knight Rises (which, unlike its Christopher Nolan-directed Batman predecessors, was definitely big and dumb) felt like a complete and utter guarantee. Does anyone even remember The Amazing Spider-Man? Battleship, anyone?
Around here, Reel Talk likes to celebrate movies. But at this point I’m feeling down. And the remake of Total Recall isn’t helping.
A month or so ago, I wrote a column in which I pretended to reboot a previous column. It probably wasn’t nearly as effective as I intended it to be, but it was meant to be a biting satire of Hollywood’s tendency to reboot anything and everything. I had originally intended to write that column this week, but I figured there would be something more interesting to say about Total Recall by the time it was released.
Turns out I was wrong. Sucks to be me.
The original Total Recall is not a movie anyone should hold near and dear to their hearts. It’s actually pretty awful. The acting is terrible, the script is barely passable, and Philip K. Dick’s original story’s big ideas are secondary to the film’s big action set pieces. It was a stupid movie that masked itself as smart sci-fi.
Technically, you could argue it was ripe for a remake. If a film was to put a talented actor (sorry Schwarzenegger, nostalgia doesn’t make you any better, you still suck) in the role of Doug Quaid and spend some time elaborating on the psychological terror of Total Recall’s basic memory vs. reality premise, we might have an interesting movie.
In other words if you made a totally different movie that touches on the same basic subject matter it might be kind of interesting. It’s important to note that I wrote “kind of” in that last sentence.
Instead, the trailers have focused on scenes that are all directly lifted from the original film. At one point, the studio went out of its way to promise that, yes, there would still be a three-boobed alien woman. In case that was something you were worried about. Don’t worry weirdos, you’ll still get your three breasts. I hope you masturbate accordingly.
It may seem like I’m exaggerating, but the three-boobed woman has been central to Total Recall’s marketing. The character is only featured in one scene in the original movie, but she’s pretty much the only thing I’ve heard about this movie for the last three weeks.
I even read an article about how the actress wanted everyone to know the third breast was fake. Just in case you were starting to get excited about the upcoming onslaught of super-hot-multi-breasted alien bombshells who are set to take over your local martian-pub.
This new version of Total Recall represents everything that’s been boring about the summer of 2012. People have been complaining about reboots and remakes for years, but this summer has been the perfect storm. The studios literally haven’t funded a single “big” movie that hasn’t been based on an existing property.
It’s why I hope Christopher Nolan doesn’t direct another Batman movie. It’s why I hope we have to wait a couple of years before Joss Whedon starts working on the second Avengers movie. And it’s why I’m so excited for next summer when, at the very least, we’ll get to see Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim. At this point they’re the only directors who the studios will give money to for big-budget original films, and that’s what we need them doing.
The summer of 2012 has sucked. Bring on awards season.