Everyone knows modern movies generally suck. Everything is a remake, and a bad one at that. It seems that movie producers today don’t ask, “How can we make a great movie for a great price?” That’s what they asked in better movie eras such as the early 90s.
Movie producers in that era asked that question with the assumption that great movies would draw crowds. Keeping the movies relatively cheap would further increase the profits. Now however, movie producers seem to ask, “What films are proven to bring in crowds?” If they repeat those films, presumably the producers would repeat the earlier film’s successes. The logic sounds fine on paper but when you realize how modern films are being made you can easily see why they fail.
To illustrate how these films fail we’ll compare the 90s classic Total Recall with its modern crap shoot.
The first thing you notice when revisiting the Arnold Total Recall is the lack of CGI. There are some cool special effects to demonstrate they are in an advanced society such as this famous scene in which Arnold removes his old-lady mask;
But otherwise there aren’t many other special effects. Now contrast that with the horrible 2012 Total Recall where just about everything is computer generated;
The 90s classic used special effects sparingly. The 2012 remake relies heavily on them. The entire setting is computer generated. The fight scenes are computer generated. And the plot is so horrible it too is probably computer generated.
The plots of the two movies are generally similar but differ in important ways. Both films consist of the protagonist going to a recall facility where he tries to have the memories of being a secret agent implanted in his brain. It turns out he already has those memories.
In the 90s film, Mars is inhabited by normal people and mutants. The antagonist controls the air supply of the living facility. The film involves the protagonist’s efforts as an agent of both sides as they wrestle for control over the oxygen supply on Mars.
The 2012 film has no Mars and no mutants. It involves a worker class that uses an elevator that passes through the earth to go from Australia to the British Isle. There they build the robots that help oppress them. What happened to the rest of the world? Something stupid is the short answer.
Colin Farrell then goes on to aid the rebels with some secret knowledge of a kill code for the robots the haves use in the British Isle to oppress the have-nots of Australia. Couldn’t that be fixed with software thereby eliminating the whole conflict? You’d be saying that a lot if you sat through it.
One of the most iconic moments of the 90s classic is the the scene where the mutant with three boobs shows them off. Despite being on earth, without mutants, the 2012 disaster also tries to show off a three booby mutant. It makes no sense. I like thrice-nippled women as much as the next guy but if that’s what the film makers wanted to show they should have written a plot where that makes sense (like the 90s Total Recall did).
There is a scene in the 90s Total Recall where Arnold wrestles a suitcase away from an old lady. The old lady yells at Arnold as he walks away, “Fuck you, Asshole!” There is a later scene where one of the central characters is seen fondling the breasts of the three-booby girl. Think the producers cared about having a PG-13 movie when they decided to make the film?
The 2012 film, on the other hand, is tame. The PG-13 rating suits it. If the characters were changed from adults to 16 year old kids, nothing would need to be changed. They behave and are written like teenagers (though with a bit less angst). Think the producers cared about making a great action movie or a mediocre movie with a PG-13 rating?
There is a scene in the Arnold film where he has to beat up three guys including someone he thought was his friend after going to the recall facility. Arnold takes some punches but ultimately beats and kills all three before making his escape. It’s reasonably believable though clearly meant to be extraordinary.
The parallel scene in the 2012 film involves Colin Farell at the recall facility surrounded by a dozen armed men with guns pointed directly at him. Colin single-handedly beats all of the armed men and makes his get away. This is not believable in any sci-fi universe. They just don’t even try in this film. It not only takes you out of the film to see something ridiculous but when you have the 90s film to show how it should be done you have to ask, “What were they thinking?”
One last point about proportion. Look at Arnold and look at Colin Farell. Which looks like he could beat-up armed soldiers and which looks he spent more time in the bathroom than the gym? The protagonists are a perfect representation of how the films were made. Arnold represents his cast and crew in a way that says everyone decided to work their butts off putting effort and man-power in to making a great film. Colin represents his film by showing that the cast and crew threw their hands up and said, “They’ll make it look good with CGI.”
The flaws in the 2012 Total Recall are indicative of so many films being produced today. The only good thing they do is remind us of our former glory. Our society used to be filled with artisans, experts, work horses, and talent. Films today represent how much of that we have lost. In its place we have computer nerds directed to do the bidding of Hollywood billionaires.
As a society, and as consumers, we have to identify more with Arnold than Colin. Maybe then we can regain some of our former glory.