Impressions Of Total Recall Footage And Pre-Vis Played In Hall H

Though Total Recall has a long way to go, and is estimated to be just half way through production, Len Wiseman and Sony have brought a sequence along to Comic-Con. Apparently comprised of the first footage shot, the scene shows what happens when our protagonist Douglas Quaid, as played by Colin Farrell, goes to Recall for his “brain vacation.” The basic plot beats are the same as in the Verhoeven film, at least to start off with, but the details are very different.

For example, Farrell’s Quaid is an altogether more “normal” fellow and he doesn’t seem so obviously a nut-buster as Schwarzenegger.

As a result, when Quaid suddenly finds he’s very, very good at killing people, it’s something of a surprise for us. Well, apart from the very many factors that make it obvious from context, knowledge of cinematic convention and the original film.

The fight sequence we saw, which featured Quaid taking down a small platoon of camo-suited cop-soldier-men-things, was all staged as though in a single shot, the camera swinging around. Think Blade 2.

At the end of that shot, when Quaid is taken back with a shock at what he’s just accomplished, Farrell nails the surprise perfectly.

After this point there was a lot more pre-Vis showing Quaid’s daring escape.The stunts get bigger, the frame gets busier with sci-fi trappings and, by the time the sequence was done, the stench of popcorn was overwhelming. This is supposed to be a big, loud crowd pleaser. I think they’d balk at the word “dumb” but they’ve certainly got those impulses at work, in between all of the lip service to Philip K. Dick.

The production and costume design at Recall mask it look something like an expensive brothel, imbued with Eastern influences. They’re certainly trying to sell it as sexy.

The footage ended with a rapid montage of other clips. One seemed to show Kate Beckinsale in sporting gear ala Sharon Stone in the first film. That seemed to confirm how much of a translation of the previous translation this is going to be. I’m starting to think the essential PKD-ness is going to get mangled like in a game of telephone.

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