Total Recall Remake Fails To Impress This Week In Science Fiction

Totally bland.

By David Wharton | Updated


Total Recall
Blu-Ray, DVD, & Digital Download

You know, I really did hope Total Recall could be one of the “good” remakes, one like Carpenter’s The Thing, or even this year’s Dredd, which seized upon the elements that worked, built upon them, but also found its own new spin to put on the story. After all, the trailers looked promising, and definitely suggested a new look and feel for director Len Wiseman’s version of Philip K. Dick’s story “We Can Remember It for Your Wholesale.” Unfortunately, the changes were largely cosmetic, and where the script diverged from the 1990 Paul Verhoeven/Arnold Schwarzenegger version, it did so largely to ill effect, replacing subplots of mutants and Martian air machines with a paper-thin villain whose evil scheme disintegrates entirely when exposed to the smallest amounts of logic.

So, if you skipped the new Total Recall in theaters — and we wouldn’t blame you — is it worth a rental? That depends on what you are looking for out of it. If you’re satisfied to see a visually stellar world with a few solid action sequences, go for it. However, it’s totally lacking the charm and affable goofiness of the original version. Verhoeven’s version was cheesy, but enthusiastically so, and that’s a large part of why it’s still fun all these years later. I think there is a more “straight” version of Dick’s story that could stand on its own, but this version ain’t it. I’ll stick with Verhoeven’s Mars, thank you kindly — robot cab drivers, psychic stomach mutants, and all.

Android Insurrection (DVD)
Has there ever been a more generic sci-fi synopsis than that of the direct-to-DVD Android Insurrection? If so I’m having trouble thinking of one.

It is the 23rd century and advancements in science have led to the creation of an indestructible killing machine. It is up to the soldiers living on an alien infested planet to battle these Androids who have become self-aware and seek to destroy all of humanity.

Discovery Special: Zombie Apocalypse (Discovery, 10/9c)
Everybody’s hoping to cash in on that sweet, sweet apocalypse fever this week, what with Friday being the end of the world and all. Tonight Discovery tosses their hat into the ring with this special which examines the plausibility of an apocalyptic outbreak of the brain-hungry undead. Never mind the zombies, I think Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo is proof not only that the apocalypse is upon us, but that we totally deserve it.

Nexus” by Ramez Naam

From the Amazon description:

Mankind gets an upgrade

In the near future, the experimental nano-drug Nexus can link human together, mind to mind. There are some who want to improve it. There are some who want to eradicate it. And there are others who just want to exploit it.

When a young scientist is caught improving Nexus, he’s thrust over his head into a world of danger and international espionage – for there is far more at stake than anyone realizes.

From the halls of academe to the halls of power, from the headquarters of an elite US agency in Washington DC to a secret lab beneath a top university in Shanghai, from the underground parties of San Francisco to the illegal biotech markets of Bangkok, from an international neuroscience conference to a remote monastery in the mountains of Thailand – Nexus is a thrill ride through a future on the brink of explosion.

Resident Evil: Retribution
(Blu-Ray & DVD)

The second of two bland, thoroughly forgettable SF movies to hit this week, we recommend purchasing Resident Evil: Retribution only if you have a table leg that needs propping up or you’re trying to work up the motivation to leave a flaming bag of dog poo on director Paul W.S. Anderson’s front porch.

Dark Matters: Twisted But True (Science, 9/8c) — “Theremin, The Monster Study, ‘Roid Rage”
Fringe’s John Noble hosts a “look at a piece of spy technology created by Russian inventor Léon Theremin. Also: a stuttering experiment conducted on orphans; the first use of anabolic steroids in American sports.”

2012: The End Is Now (History Channel, 9/8c)
On Apocalypse Eve, the History Channel takes a break from showing programs with little attachment to actual history by focusing on the totally real end of the world that is totally happening on Friday. (If it does actually happen, feel free to use the above as my ironic tombstone inscription.) On the upside, this special is hosted by writer Brad Meltzer, whose Decoded is a favorite guilty pleasure of mine, so it might be worth checking out if you have nothing better to do. (Last-minute bunker shopping, for instance.)

The Brit List: The Doctor Who Ultimate List of Lists (BBC America, 10/9c)
On the eve of our world’s inevitable destruction, BBC America serves up a special that seems to set the bar unreasonably high, given that it may well be one of the last lists of any sort. Where’s the Doctor when we need him?

Fringe (Fox, 9/8c) — “XB-6783746”
On the other hand, the lovable cast of Fringe has saved the world from impending doom on numerous occasions, so maybe they’ll come through for us if the Time Lord continues to be AWOL.

Tron Uprising (Disney XD, 12 a.m./11c)
That’s right, we’ve got a listing for Sunday! We’re nothing if not optimists here at GFR. Of course if we’re wrong, you’ll probably have other things on your mind than a Tron cartoon. How long you can go without resorting to drinking your own pee, for instance.

The Renegade recruits three fearless supporters who have expressed their commitment to the revolution by tagging the grid with the message that “Tron Lives.” After inviting them to join in the resistance, he discovers one of them is his best friend Mara and has to convince them that tagging is not the right path and devise a new plan targeting Tesler’s ship.