Monday Morning Critic –Total Recall (2012): Remake, Reboot or Ripoff – Sam Childers & Joseph Kony

Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

The big release this week is the new version of Total Recall. I was a bit skeptical of it when it came out, because I love the Schwarzenegger version, but another version of Philip K Dick’s “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” intrigues me on any number of levels. Dick’s story is a good one and another adaptation isn’t a bad thing; I’m always curious to see what other genre directors can do with the same material as opposed to merely remaking someone else’s film. It’s one of the few times where a new version of older material is welcomed in my book; new things like technology and a new take on an old subject can give you a brilliant film. Or it can be a retread of an old one but with shiny new toys inserted in the mix.

You just don’t know. This is why when I saw this spread over the web, I got fascinated and started writing.

Well, it was either that or make fun of Kristen Stewart’s lack of facial expressions in various situations involving her and Robert Pattinson in their breakup and frankly that’s been done already.

It got me thinking of one question on how to classify the 2012 version of Total Recall. Everyone involved has claimed for it to be another adaptation of the film, ala True Grit, but from how it looks so far I’m not sure if that’s the proper way to look at the film. Based on what has been said from everyone involved in making the film, how do we classify it properly? Is it a reboot of the story itself? Is it a remake of the Schwarzenegger classic? Or is this just a shameless rip off of that film without the proper credit as a remake?

Thus comes a three pronged Making the Case For segment … let me know your thoughts below.

Making the Case For Total Recall (2012):
Reboot, Remake or Rip Off?

Reboot

Let’s take everyone at their world and think of this as a reboot of the original story, for lake of a better term, as opposed to a remake. So far it looks like they’re making a different take on it; making it more political and taking out Quaid’s venture to Mars. All the standards are there: Quaid’s a guy who has nightmares and wants some adventure in his life when he ventures to ReKall, where he can live out his dream as a secret agent. Turns out he is a secret agent after all and his life changes radically inside out. Throw in a different version of the world and you’ve got an entirely new take on the story, with Quaid as more of an everyman than a gigantic ass-kicker like Schwarzenegger’s version was.

Remake

The one thing I couldn’t shake after seeing the trailer at first was that it felt like a remake of the original film instead of a brand new take on the film. It had the same basic framework, etc, but when someone put together that YouTube above it just kind of hit me that it felt like Len Wiseman was really just making a new version of the film as opposed to re-adapting the book again. There are bound to be similarities when you adapt the same material twice, of course, but it felt like someone had just taken the original script and changed a couple things up.

Rip Off

If you’re going to make a new version of Total Recall from the novel do you really need the three-boobed hooker? As much as I’ve made fun of the fact that it wouldn’t be a new Total Recall without her inclusion, doesn’t it feel a bit shameless to have it in there? If you’re going for a new version of the same material why include that and other fairly iconic things about the original?

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Machine Gun Preacher

If you looked at this film just from a cover standpoint you’d think it was the most badass exploitation flick ever: the phrase “Machine Gun Preacher” sounds like a preacher-man who has a machine gun and wrecks vengeance upon the wicked in God’s name in all sorts of unintentionally hilarious ways. Plus he’d have to have some sort of biblically themed catchphrase, too, like “You will repent for your sins … with lead!”

But it’s not: it’s about the story of a man who was an inherently terrible human being who found God and turned his life around. And then he decided to go to Africa to help kids … and then started attacking those who were preying upon them.

Sam Childers’ story turned film could’ve found a much bigger audience if only for one thing: the fact that it came out in limited release without the benefit of the controversy surrounding Joseph Kony. Kony had a brief moment where we all got outraged over a well done internet video and then … the dude who made the short film jacked it in public and we all kind of forgot about it immediately afterwards. It’s kind of odd to think of a film about child soldiers in Africa also leaves you thinking about some dude baked off his gourd pulling a Fred Willard but it happens. Why does Childers matter in the Joseph Kony story?

Because this former drug addled biker found God and dedicated his life to helping the children of the Sudan. And after a while he opted to take the fight to them, battling Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army in Southern Sudan.

It’s a remarkable story that translates into a fairly pedestrian film. I can see what they’re trying to do with the film; this is about a man of faith whose beliefs push him to do good deeds at the expense of everything around him. His singlehanded devotion to helping the kids in Africa in the Sudan nearly destroys his family stateside; it’s fascinating to see a film that has no problem painting out to be someone who has done something so selfless be so selfish in other areas.

When you go online, Sam Childers is equally praised as a hero for his efforts and slandered as a phony. I’m not sure which side I’m on at the moment; from interviews he seems like a decent guy and the film makes him into a man who found redemption but was ultimately flawed by his single-handed devotion to his cause making him blind to his own family. The film is about a man who found how to be a good father and a better man while helping children in Africa.

Recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days – More adventures of Greg and his wacky friends.

See It – The one thing I’ve always been impressed about this series is that it’s found an audience and doesn’t talk down to it like so many children’s films do. It shows in the box office receipts; it’s hard to really draw an audience in the G-rated family area without it being animated.

Total Recall (2012) – Colin Farrell gets his ass to Mars.

See It – Wiseman is a solid genre director and it’ll be interesting to see what he does with the source material.

The Babymakers – Broken Lizard is back. This time they’re heisting sperm. In Limited Release

See It – Broken Lizard may never hit the heights of Super Troopers but they never fail to at least be entertaining. If there ever was a comedy troupe that hits the “perfectly acceptable” category of film on a regular basis it’s these guys.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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