Comic-Con: TOTAL RECALL Panel Recap

     July 13, 2012

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It’s rare for a film to come to consecutive Comic-Cons, but Total Recall showed up last year at the beginning of production, and now it’s returned with its theatrical release only weeks away.  We’ve seen multiple trailers, TV spots, images, and featurettes, so I was curious what a panel would have to offer.  It’s return to Comic-Con is part of a final big push.  Having seen both panels, and being less-than-impressed the first time around, I was curious to see if a sneak peek at the completed footage would get me on board.

Hit the jump for my recap, and click here for all of our Comic-Con coverage.

total-recall-posterThe moderator brings on director Len Wiseman, and stars Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, and Bryan Cranston.

–      Wiseman said the final cut was locked four days ago.

–      Farrell says he had a good time making the film, but he didn’t feel like he had to fill Schwarzenegger’s size 16 shoes.

We then get a look at some footage from the film.  We’re shown a six minute reel.  Here are the major points:

–      The footage opens with what we’ve seen from the trailer where the premise of the film is laid out.

–      Then there’s a big fight between Farrell and Beckinsale’s characters.

–      Farrell escapes and then runs through some rainy streets that are highly reminiscent of Blade Runner.

–      We then see that the phone is under Farrell’s skin, the phone is tracking him, and he has to physically cut it out.

–      We then go to the scene where he’s trying to get through an ID scanner but his digital mask malfunctions, and he has to go on the run.

–      Farrell and Biel go on the chase scene that we’ve seen in all the trailers, and it doesn’t look particularly exhilarating.

–      Then there’s another set piece involving a fight with Farrell and Biel fighting Beckinsale who’s flanked by robot soldiers.  The fight takes place on elevators that are constantly moving and it the exterior almost looks like a platforming video game with shifting blocks.

Len-Wiseman-Total-Recall-imageAfter the footage, the moderator beings asking the panelists a few questions:

–      The actors are asked about how they physically prepared for the role, but Cranston cuts in because he wants to see how the sign language interpreter signs “Cohagen has been described as a douchebag.”  He then notes how his co-stars had to go through so much physical training, but they probably got a good sleep every night.  The other actors describe how they prepared to the physical stuff.  It boils down to eating right, working out, and Biel adds “Boxing, boxing, boxing, boxing…and chicken.”

–      Wiseman talks about how he’s dreamed of bringing a future world to life ever since he was a kid.  In terms of inspiration, he says there’s too many to count, but he collects a lot of sci-fi concept art, so that probably worked its way in there along with his childhood fantasies.

Audience Q&A:

–      Jessica-Biel-Total-Recall-imageWhen asked what attracted to the film, Wiseman said it was the mystery that intrigued him even though he geeked out on the action and world-building.  So it was the mix of “the art stuff and the fun stuff.”

–      Farrell says he didn’t have a problem playing a character who doesn’t know who he is, “because I’ve spent most of my life not knowing who I am.”  But as for the character, it comes from confusion and uncertainty.  But ultimately it becomes liberating because he’s free from his previous identity even though his past is hunting him down.

–      Beckinsale says her character is a mix of previous characters from the original film including Sharon Stone‘s from the original.  One of the differences is that modern audiences can accept a female villain without right-hand-man.  However, the tones are so different so there’s not much of a similarity to Stone’s character.

–      Beckinsale says she’s alright with how Wiseman portrayed her native Britain.  He added that he thinks if one country survived in the future, it would be U.K.

–     total-recall-colin-farrell-kate-beckinsale-image Farrell said he didn’t think of using his Irish accent for the movie…but then pauses and asks “Can we make this movie again?”  He did think of messing around with an Austrian accent for about seven minutes.  “I thought you were Austrian,” quips Cranston.

–      Farrell said he was drawn back to blockbusters after doing indies because he hadn’t done a big film in six or seven years, and he thought it was time to return because they’re loads of fun.  He was a bit dubious about doing another remake in such a short time span (the other being Fright Night).  But then Wiseman showed him some concept art, and Farrell was sold.  He then quickly added that many big blockbuster offers hadn’t really been coming in, and the other scripts weren’t very good.

–      Cranston said he was also hesitant to jumping in to something that had been done before and done well.  But Cranston looked at the character of Cohagen as someone who wants Quaid (Farrell) not to die but “to behave.”  He saw Cohagen as benevolent and if people just listen to him, he can lead them to utopia.  That approach is what drew him to the role.

–      Colin-Farrell-Total-Recall-imageBiel said it was the “Len spell” that he cast on everyone.  She liked the Melina is a character who’s “capable and smart.”  She also noted how Wiseman wanted to create a love story between Melina and Quaid within all the chaos of the plot.

–      “What was it like for Farrell to fill Arnold’s shoes?” “Airy,” jokes Farrell.  He then says he didn’t really feel like he was following in Schwarzenegger’s footsteps because the tone is so different.  Namely, he doesn’t have one-liners (that falls on Beckinsale’s “very able shoulders.”).  He never felt like he had to fight against the original.

–      Farrell said shooting the green screen wasn’t so bad because he didn’t have to do any dialogue with a tennis ball on the end of a stick.  Also, the practical sets were amazing.  He said the immediate environment always had real stuff in it.  However, he hasn’t seen a finished cut so he’s interested to see what it will look like when it all comes together.

I thought that with a last big look at the film, this panel for Total Recall would turn me around on the film.  Unfortunately, it was more of the same.  I’m hoping that seeing the complete movie will be a fun time, but all I see is something deeply derivative and painfully dull.  I want to be wrong because I’d rather see a good movie than a bad one, but with the exception of Cranston, nothing makes me excited about the film.  And to finish up with a related note: in the six minutes of footage they showed us, Cranston was in less than 20 seconds of it.

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