Looks awesome - visually - anything with flying cars is for me. Soldiers look very CGI, but video game-like action is what's hot these days. Did I mention flying cars? I really dig those.
[Mike] anything with flying cars is for me.
I'm more of a hover board guy myself. :-) That part where he nose dives the flying car almost into the ground was really cool.
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Looks cool. I can't remember the Arnold Achwarzenegger version very well. I "recall" thinking it was cheesy and the ending didn't clear much up. Does anyone remember the original well?
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I remember the Schwarzenegger version quite well. Looking back, I suppose it was a little on the cheesy side, but that was mostly just being a product of its time.
I was lucky enough to get to talk to director Paul Verhoeven when he came to do a talk at my college (and it's sad to think how long ago that was...) and he said the ending was left intentionally vague. If I'm remembering correctly, he said he flared out to white rather than black so the audience could accept it either as the dawn of a new day, or the memory implant ending and Quaid's mind blanking out. His personal take: it was all a dream.
I loved the original! It probably helped that I was 15 or 16 at the time. I probably saw it hundreds of times when I was a kid.
I'm sure I'll go see the remake, but I'm guessing I'll putting the DVD in as soon as I get home from the theater.
The thing most people remember about the Arnold version was the hooker with three breasts, and pulling that huge tracking device out of his nose.... maybe also the giant airport x-ray that seems prophetic now.
For me, the best part of the whole movie, and the part most adhering to PKD's original, might be the simple scene where Quaid is confronted by a guy in a suit that seems oblivious to his threats of death, and who tells Quaid this is all a dream that will end in massive brain damage unless he takes a little pill, a pill that isn;t even real, just a symbol of wuitting his phsychosis. His spiel is logical and concincing. We and Quaid are buying it for a while... until Quaid notices a teensy bit of flop sweat starting to trickle off the suit guy, tipping him that this is all a con job to get him to take poison.
Jeremy: Being 16 totally helped, didn't it?
I'm with you. I'll likely go see the new one, but go home and watch the original on DVD as soon as I'm done. The hard part's going to be not sitting in the theater going, "That's wrong. That's wrong. That's not what happens..."
I *love* the original Total Recall. I consider it one of the essential Schwarzenegger movies. Want a different debate? Five best Schwarzenegger films (IMO):
Kindergarten Cop (yeah, I went there... EET'Z NAWT A TOOMAH)
Anyway, the fact that Total Recall is so great to me is not the *concept* of the film itself, it's the fact that Arnold is running around a Mars colony breaking skulls in one of the most 80s feeling action movies ever made.
Throw in Colin Ferrell (never comes across as an action star to me, he's more of a prickish villain) in a movie that will likely fall victim to remake no-no #1: DON'T TAKE YOUR REMAKE SO SERIOUSLY, and I don't know if I'll really want to see this. I assume it will get a Rotten Tomatoes score around 60% and will be one of 2012's more forgettable action films. Sorry to be a negative nancy, but it just feels like it's going to be a bust to me.
Plus this new one takes place on Earth... ...why?
[Scott Roberts] "Throw in Colin Ferrell (never comes across as an action star to me, he's more of a prickish villain)
In Bruges is a desert island movie for me, and while far from an action movie, it really put Colin in a whole new light for me: a real live actor who loves making movies.
On the villain front, Fright Night was one of my favorite pure "pop" movies last year, and he was delightful in it. In my wife's words, "We'll go see 'Total Recall' because we owe it to Colin from how much we enjoyed him in 'Fright Night.'" I've watched crappier movies for crappier reasons, so yeah, I'm in.
And I CANNOT BELIEVE that NOBODY has mentioned Kate Beckinsale-Jessica Biel bimbo-fu! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!?! Yes, my wife is up for that too. (Among the many, many reasons I'm thankful every day that she let me marry her.)
[Scott Roberts] in a movie that will likely fall victim to remake no-no #1: DON'T TAKE YOUR REMAKE SO SERIOUSLY, and I don't know if I'll really want to see this."
The fact is that neither Total Recall should be considered all that faithful to the original. The first one had Mars, but left out the politics. (Keep in mind that the sequel to Dick's version of Total Recall was The Minority Report.) I'm not sure why this one isn't going to Mars, but has the politics back in.
Not that I care about politics in movies -- I'd rather not, thank you -- but I also don't care about fidelity to ANY source material. In a movie like this, I really do prefer less thinking, more stuff blowing up. I agree that seriousness is a major hazard.
I like that Wiseman also did Live Free or Die Hard, which was a whole lot better than it had any right to be. Big budget mayhem galore, but nice attention to story and performance too, and frankly, a nice job not overreaching.
I agree that it's important to keep our expectations as the audience in line though. Even more than Arnold (Considah dis a dih-VAWS), take Michael Ironside and the mutant baby out, and you don't have a classic anymore. (Bill Nighy in the Quatto role this time, btw.) The best case scenario is that it's a good time, but I'm willing to bet $12 or whatever that it'll be at least that.
[Scott Roberts] "Kindergarten Cop (yeah, I went there... EET'Z NAWT A TOOMAH)"
Just enough to put it ahead of Twins, but I'm not sure it's enough to stay ahead of the second Conan movie or Predator.
And I forgot, I actually like Eraser, with Vanessa Williams and James Caan, quite a bit.
I'd definitely put True Lies on the list except for that horrifying sequence where he kidnaps his wife and interrogates her in an especially offensive way. It would probably stay dead last on my list of Cameron movies, but really only one scene away from being a top Ahnuld movie.
And seriously, if you haven't seen Pumping Iron, you really should. That version of Arnold really was quite an act. You can see that, yeah, he had a remarkable body and extraordinary charisma -- but not by any means ALWAYS the best body in the contests he won. But he used that shining light of his personality/persona to so thoroughly screw with his opponents that they never had a chance. Even at their best, they were sweating bullets, while Arnold made being superhuman look easy. Dynamite stuff.
[Tim Wilson] "I'd definitely put True Lies on the list except for that horrifying sequence where he kidnaps his wife and interrogates her in an especially offensive way."
Not to thread-jack, but I think True Lies is great...until you get to the Harrier jump jet scene. Thats the scene I find offensive. As if the whole car on the causeway scene wasn't pushing the bounds of plausibility, we are treated to a scene that seems like it written for (or by) a 5 year old. IMO, this is where Cameron jumps the shark. As soon as he rescues the wife, they should just roll the credits. The End.
But no. We have to get this extra scene that seems tacked on because they money left over in the stunt and FX budget. OK, breaking the cop car windshield with the nose gear is good for a laugh, but the whole scene to rescue the daughter is schlock. Which is a shame, because the rest of the film is pretty entertaining.
As far as Total Recall, how can you talk about it without mentioning Sharon Stone? Or did I miss it somewhere?
[Mark Suszko] " then it's going to be a big, noisy flop like "I, Robot".
I like the darkness and melancholy of I Robot, but yeah, it certainly isn't all that and a bag of chips. Good for cheap DVD viewing, but I'm glad I didn't spend theater money on it. If it was a B sci-fi movie, it might have gained a cult following. But as an A movie, not so much.
I guess I don't get the whole remake craziness. Or should I say remake laziness. To me it just shows how the big guys have been out of ideas for quite a while. Or maybe not out of ideas, but just don't know a good one when they see it. With the lack of anything new and interesting that isn't a carrier for some thinly veiled political agenda, non-stop remakes and the plummeting price of gear, Hollywood better watch out or they are going to suffer the same fate as the record industry.
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair
Where were you on 6/21?
Watch 1st 2 minutes:
If they just make the new one an all shoot-em-up action movie without the esential dilemma of what reality is, and where we draw the line between fantasy and reality and identity, then it's going to be a big, noisy flop like "I, Robot".
Ironside is awesome in everything he does, regardless of budget or script quality.
Colin Ferrell impressed me greatly in "The Recruit", but not in many other films.
[Mark Suszko] " then it's going to be a big, noisy flop like "I, Robot".
Outstanding example. Quite a remarkable creative feat, really, to find so many ways to bite.
[Mark Suszko] "Ironside is awesome in everything he does, regardless of budget or script quality."
Did you see him in last week's Justified? On top of being one of the best shows EVER on TV, it has amazing guest stars. (Speaking of which, place your bet early in this year's Emmy pool - Neal McDonough for best guest.) Ironside has only been on the one episode so far, and not for long...but he was Ironsidedly awesome.
[Mark Suszko] "Colin Ferrell impressed me greatly in "The Recruit", but not in many other films."
Have you seen In Bruges? I can't imagine anyone not being swept away by him in that. Very much worth a gamble of your moviewatching time, even more so for Brendan Gleeson, who's amazing, and Ralph Fiennes, who should have won a Best Supporting Actor Award in every competition he was eligible for. Really truly a desert island pic for me, and I think Colin was great in it.
[Mark Suszko] "Colin Ferrell impressed me greatly in "The Recruit", but not in many other films."
Oh, come on. He was awesome in Daredevil!
Wait-- Nothing was awesome in Daredevil. Never mind.
[Jeff Hinkle] "Wait-- Nothing was awesome in Daredevil. Never mind."
Jennifer Garner was awesome in Daredevil.
Dang. Never mind. You're right. Nothing was awesome in Daredevil.
Count me among the tiny minority that LIKED "Daredevil". Particularly the way they visualized his sense ability. Elektra was kind of botched, and I don't know why Fisk had to get a race change, but I let those things slide.
How is it that millions of dollars can get spent to make a piece of junk? The answer is that the guy who does the effects on a cruddy sci-fi movie today may do the effects on a Michael Bay blockbuster in the future. It is all about being in the game. Sometimes the result is not great, but these people are making films, and the folks criticizing them on the internet are not. Think you can do better? Go for it.
That being said, sometimes money is the problem. To save a few million dollars perhaps a producer hires a second rate effects artist or an inexperienced director - it only takes one or two jagged edges for a puzzle to fall apart.
And "Daredevil" got Garner and Affleck together to make future tiny Afflecks, so Hollywood's future is safe!
[Mike Cohen] "How is it that millions of dollars can get spent to make a piece of junk? ....sometimes money is the problem. To save a few million dollars perhaps a producer hires a second rate effects artist or an inexperienced director - it only takes one or two jagged edges for a puzzle to fall apart."
This is one of my very, very favorite topics. The short version is: for the most part, nobody sets out to make junk. It just happens some times. Movies are souffles. Maybe one drop too much water, maybe a teaspoon just a little too rounded or an egg not quite room temperature, maybe the oven just one degree off.
Frankly, knowing what it takes to get one made, it's amazing that there's ever been even ONE good movie. Except the fact is that most movies have scores of movie-lovers working on them, which is why it's still remarkable that some of them fail.
My experience is that audiences are actually a lot more cynical than moviemakers. Even the studio lawyers I've met have been more in the "Let's put on a show!" vein than many of us.
You and I might disagree about John Carter, and while the story isn't over, it's hard to avoid the potential that it may become a textbook example of a big-budget bomb. But what would that textbook actually teach us? Let's back up and see if we can see where it went off the rails.
People have been trying to make John Carter movies for generations, starting in 1931. The director (Bob Clampett) begged the studio to let him give it a try. That attempt got as far as test footage, which didn't fly in test screenings around the country -- but John Carter actually predates Tarzan, and since 1980, a number of wildly diverse and incompatible regimes at Disney have been trying to pull it off.
Among the lovers of comic books and epic movies based on them, Robert Rodriguez was attached to a John Carter movie called A Princess of Mars. (This is actually the name of Clampett's attempted movie, and, indeed, that particular Edgar Rice Burroughs story is the source material for the 2012 version we have as well.) When he left the DGA over their refusal to let him share director billing with Frank Miller on Sin City (oversimplified, but you get the gist - a director who loves comics), Paramount asked Guillermo del Toro (Hell Boy) to step in. The project takes a couple of bounces, and Jon Favreau was attached in 2005, steps out...and does Iron Man. He still loves John Carter, though, and asks for, and gets, a cameo in the version we have today.
This time, you get Andrew Stanton, one of Disney/Pixar's hottest directors. This worked out great for Brad Bird, who ripped the cover off the ball in his live-action debut, Mission Impossible 4. In fact, as a class, nobody is better prepared to direct a big-budget live action blockbuster than a big-time animation director. Massive crews, a million moving pieces, deadlines that have to be synced in every possible direction, coordination with an astonishing number of studio departments -- the skill sets for these kinds of projects are really well-matched.
Stanton also wrote the story for John Carter -- and had track record there, having written the story for all 3 Toy Story movies, A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and WALL-E. Has any writer had a better run in our time?
Then for the actual screenplay, team him with one of the best 3 or 4 novelists working today, Michael Chabon, who -- how perfect is THIS? -- has a flair for the epic fantasy as demonstrated in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which I predict will be remembered as the first great novel of the 21st century.
For the DP, get a guy whose long suit is highly stylized big budget action, fresh off Star Trek and MI III with JJ Abrams (and currently working on the Star Trek sequel), plus action pix as diverse as Domino and Enemy of the State.
The editor needs to know his way around really tricky source material, so how about a guy who edited not one but TWO Charlie Kaufman-penned features, Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, among others including Where The Wild Things Are, and hey, if you can cut long-form videos and docs for Iron Maiden, Bjork, Tesla and Ice Cube, you have a sense of style that goes far, far outside the ordinary.
These are not the kind of people who get hired by morons trying to make a quick buck. Somebody put some thought into hiring grown-ups with a track record of doing special work. But I think that even John Carter fans will admit that this won't be remembered with the same fondness as some other projects by these outstanding artists, or by a studio that has been willing to take a lot of risks for a very long time. (Hey, Sleeping Beauty was no sure thing.)
Let's tally so far: Budget, check. Commitment from every corner of the studio, check. Grown-ups with track records, check. Some of the best effects houses in the business, including Cinesite, The Moving Picture Company, Double Negative...
At random in the credits in IMDb, I clicked on "First Assistant Cameraman" and found credits for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, X-Men: First Class, Alice In Wonderland, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and Band of Brothers. Impeccable. For the FA camera!!! While the star wasn't exactly a star, he had done good work for years that people had really liked on Friday Night Lights - but a working pro, not some pretty face they found in the mall.
In other words, they didn't do ANYTHING wrong. No corners of budget, talent or marketing were cut. It just didn't exactly work, and it didn't exactly resonate.
Lessons? The only one I can think of is to avoid civil war-era sci-fi/fantasy. Wild Wild West movie, Cowboys & Aliens, John Carter...This doesn't bode very well for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, but once again, grown-up movie lovers on board, starting with DP Caleb Deschanel.
So really, not that much of a lesson. The next civil war sci-fi movie might be just the one to do the trick. Which means that the textbook teaches us nothing except --- well, sometimes bad movies happen to good people.
We can all think of a bunch of franchises that got off to a wobbly start but came to redeem themselves -- Star Trek is the first that comes to mind -- and I'd like to see this one get another turn of the crank too. But I think that the best possible John Carter movie would be fortunate to have talent like this on board.
[Tim Wilson] "In other words, they didn't do ANYTHING wrong. No corners of budget, talent or marketing were cut. It just didn't exactly work, and it didn't exactly resonate."
Well, I don't know if they did anything "wrong" by casting Taylor Kitsch, but they certainly took a huge risk. It was near unanimous from all the negative reviews of the film that no one could connect with the guy, and no one thought he was that great of an actor in it. I understand going out and trying to find a rising star for the big-budget action film, but given the scale of everything else involved in the project (as you have nicely laid out), they *did* actually, in a way, cut a corner on not getting a well established, recognizable face. You've got Mark Strong and McNulty from The Wire as villains, and Willem Dafoe doing voice talent... then... some guy from a TV show as the lead... Granted, it may be a good TV show, but he's still an unproven film talent. He was a risk that didn't reward.
Not Kitsch's fault? Did he do the best job he could for what he had to work with? Then they probably went wrong with the screenplay. Stanton is a great writer, no question, but he more than likely wrote a bad Screenplay for John Carter. It was bloated, talky, and at times boring. He's probably in love with the material and likely tried to do too much, that's my guess. I don't even think I could recite two lines from the movie, that's how uninspiring and unmemorable the dialogue was as well. I *do* think they went wrong with a few of the cogs, before the machine even got started up. And they were crucial parts of the motor, and impacted the performance of all the other shiny great parts around it.
ALSO, the title for the movie and the overall marketing campaign were TERRIBLE.
I don't know if you watch Conan, but he did a funny bit recently where he showed fake (obviously), regrettable tweets from celebrities. And, well, RELEVANT:
Sam Worthington, an unknown, did not hurt Avatar - although most of what people went to see Avatar for had little to do with Sam Worthington.
I read that Disney removed "from Mars" from the title because they did not want to alienate women, and most movies having to do with Mars have been flops (Mars Needs Moms, Red Planet, Mission to Mars, the actual NASA Mars manned mission, Capricorn One was pretty bad too despite it making OJ Simpson a big movie star :) )
Actually maybe I read that further up this thread!
[Mike Cohen] "Sam Worthington, an unknown, did not hurt Avatar - although most of what people went to see Avatar for had little to do with Sam Worthington."
Exactly. Nobody who went to see John Carter went to see it because of Taylor Kitsch either.
I like him as a choice. Charismatic, experienced, respected among people who enjoy quality work. Friday Night Lights was a critic's darling from outside the Disney family, and 68 episodes as one of the major characters is a good example of working for a living. That's the clock equivalent of 30 movies, right, and if you've read Creative COW Magazine's coverage of the shooting of that show, it's pretty intense: three 16mm cameras rolling non-stop in every scene. No waiting around while they set up YOUR ONE SHOT. Nope, it's wall to wall work from everybody in the scene, in sometimes unusually cramped quarters even for one actor and one camera. Non-stop acting for every scene you're in, with a lot of moving pieces very literally in your face.
We can argue whether he was the best choice, but I like Disney's apparent motives, and what it says about how they hoped it would turn out. My point about John Carter NOT being a cynically constructed movie is that they could have gone with a Disney Channel hunk. Instead, a well-regarded young man with years of quality, if low-profile, work under his belt.
I still think that, from where I sit as just another ignoramus with an opinion, every choice I can see in this production was made for the right reasons.
[Mike Cohen] "I read that Disney removed "from Mars" from the title because they did not want to alienate women, and most movies having to do with Mars have been flops"
Okay, maybe the title could have been better.
Mike, it's not the "about" Mars part that was the problem. It's the word "Mars" in the title. It's one of the "Seven Words That Only Bad Movies Have In Their Titles," courtesy of Cracked.com...which probably deserves its own thread.
I obviously have no insight into this beyond what I've read and thought about, but I think Mark might be right that the title change may be the only large-scale conservative choice in the set-up. There are people a lot smarter than me who work on this stuff, but I know that my immediate reaction to the trailers was that it was kind of Conan The Barbarian for my taste (another example of a too-serious remake, btw). I wonder if playing up the sci-fi angle might have worked in their favor.
And to get back to Total Recall, watch Live Free or Die Hard again if you haven't in a while to get a taste of director Len Wiseman's kinetic energy. Other than the scene with Justin Long and OnStar -- I can't believe it's only a minute; it feels like a year -- I thought it was a gas. Definitely enough to make me willing to give Total Recall a try on its own.
[Tim Wilson] "Nobody who went to see John Carter went to see it because of Taylor Kitsch either."
Problem is nobody went to see John Carter (period).
When fan-made promo trailers on you tube are more memorable than the official ones, your marketing is in trouble.
My take on Carter's promos was they felt like the gladiatorial battle scenes from Star Wars where Padme and Obi-Wan have to escape weird creatures.
I don't know if it's the right choice, either, but I would have worked most of the promo "smaller", meaning, showing some kind of character relationship stuff between Tars, Carter, and Deja Thoris. Spectacle without story is boring. Story PLUS spectacle = a hit. People love the characters in a story, over the visual window dressing. I got absolutely no impression of John Carter or Tars or Deja's personalities or emotions out of the official promos; they could have been manikins. From what I gather of the actual movie, it may have the same problem.
Marketing problem was it assumed audience cared about John Carter as a property. Not the case. They needed to sell this as an original property, not one with a built in audience. John Carter is not spiderman.
Director and Disney marketing didn't appreciate that. And given that box office potential was limited. Spending 250mill on something very few people care about inherently is a mistake.
That is where a star with appeal really helps. If Tom Cruise is in a movie, you know he thinks it's worth being in... gives it relevance to audience. Makes it an event film.
John Carter was marketed as an event film... which to most people was a non-event.
[Juan Salvo] "John Carter is not spiderman."
[Juan Salvo] "John Carter was marketed as an event film... which to most people was a non-event."
100% agree. When I saw the very first trailer for John Carter in theaters, and they did the whole dramatic "JCM" logo build at the end; it had the definite feeling like it was something important that I should care about. But I had *NO* idea what it was. But it certainly felt like something that had a huge built in audience.
I didn't know if it was a TV show adaptation (from some channel I don't watch) or a comic book or what... And then when the TV commercials started rolling out months later, I thought to myself "Am I supposed to care about John Carter? Because I don't really know what it is, and none of my friends do either..."
The whole marketing campaign totally felt like it had the built-in appeal of, like, The Avengers... but no one in the audience really felt the same way.
Other than the end... and some of the iffy stuff at the beginning. This is 100 million times better than anything Disney did. One day some marketing genius at a studio will just post a bunch of clips from a movie and ask fans to cut their own trailers in a contest... to use the best one.
Whatever head of Marketing uses that idea owes me a beer.
[Mark Suszko] My take on Carter's promos was they felt like the gladiatorial battle scenes from Star Wars where Padme and Obi-Wan have to escape weird creatures.
I had the exact same thought when I saw the trailer. "Hey, isn't that Geonosis? Oh, Mars, huh? Boy, that looks awwwwfully familiar." Which I'm guessing a lot of other people probably thought, too. Maybe not specifically "That looks like Star Wars," but "Hero fights intergalactic war against CG aliens to save damsel in distress? That looks like something I've seen before. Lots of times before."
[ Juan Salvo] John Carter was marketed as an event film... which to most people was a non-event.
Spot-on. And I don't think it helped once people found out it was based on a hundred-year-old serial from the Tarzan guy. That doesn't exactly scream "fresh, new idea you just gotta see."
[ Juan Salvo] One day some marketing genius at a studio will just post a bunch of clips from a movie and ask fans to cut their own trailers in a contest... to use the best one.
Actually, I think they might have done that with the original Resident Evil movie. Not sure if they used it as the actual trailer, but I'm pretty sure you could download clips and music and cut your own trailer together and post it online. They definitely let folks design a one-sheet, but it seems like you could do a trailer, too.
[Mike Cohen]...most movies having to do with Mars have been flops
"Total Recall" wasn't. And we're back to where we started! Thank you!
Do you think maybe since we have known for a couple of Generations now that "Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids; in fact, it's cold as hell", that we're asking the audience to suspend too much disbelief over the Burroughs vision? I know that was one reason I didn't read too much of it as a kid that liked hard-edged technologically believable Sci-fi.
I think there's still a place for space opera; I'd like to see a really good version of the Lensman series in film.