03 August 2012

The Road to a Blockbuster: Colin Schwarzenegger

You know it's going to be a poor weekend at the Box Office when I actually had to look up what the hell was coming out. This is the Road to a Blockbuster - Norwegian Morning Wood's weekly Summer glance at the critical, commercial, and cultural potential of every major Hollywood Film premiering this Season. This week we have Colin Farrell in Len Wiseman's Total Recall (2012). Let's just say it looks bleak.

When I think Total Recall, I think this, the Gross Chest Dude, and the Chick with Three Boobs.
Which is a shame. This film actually looks sort of cool, but the sort of cool things that need to sell a Sci-Fi Epic Remake of this aren't being marketed. Instead we have this half-assed possible double-life thing that's barely been visible in any advertising. To be fair, this is a rough time of year. Half of the country is still in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) mode, the other half is scared of going to theaters lest they get shot, and the third half is just sitting at home watching spotty NBC Olympics coverage. No one has this film on their mind. Which again, I feel is a shame, this may turn out to be a hidden gem that we discover years on down the line.

Len Wiseman is the dude who has written every single Underworld movie, directed the first two, and also gave us Live Free or Die Hard (2007). Now, all these aren't really awful movies, but they're certainly all stupid movies. The first Total Recall (1990) is an epic Sci-Fi flick that really kicked off Schwarzenegger's mid-career in the 90s. It's clever, stylish, and thought-provoking. This Wiseman version apparently is trying to do the same thing without the journey to Mars, which was an integral part of the first film. So it's hard to know what to expect out of this thing.

Usually before a movie like this there is some kind of revival or hype behind it. Hell, even with The Dark Knight Rises the blogosphere was recalling Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), even another bit of Schwarzy's mid-career experimentation. But there hasn't been dick about reminiscing over Total Recall this week. Is it because Verhoeven's version is untouchable? It's one of those pure Sci-Fi Films, one that hasn't been overridden with toys and prequels and remakes and other commercialization that seems to dilute its powerful nature (regardless if this notion is actually true). Is Wiseman's Recall an affront to Verhoeven? I don't see how the fanboys can actually lose here - if it sucks, they're justified, if it rules they've got a nice new Sci-Fi to adore. It'll work out.

We should talk about Colin Farrell here for a mo. Colin's one of those dudes who seems like he's been in everything but actually has a fairly limited filmography. Kind of like Sam Worthington, he was anointed as the next big thing in Hollywood before he really was anything. The life acting stages of Colin the past decade are interesting. He started with strong roles in films like Minority Report (2002) (another one of the best Sci-Fis in the past decade), Phone Booth (2002), and Daredevil (2003), as well as forgettable drama thriller movies like The Recruit (2003) and S.W.A.T. (2003). Yep. Look at those years. Almost every Colin Farrell movie that is an essentially Colin Farrell movie was made about ten years ago.

He then moved on to shit like Alexander (2004) and Miami Vice (2006), the latter of which was one of the most infuriatingly bad movie experiences I've ever had the misfortune of sitting through. In between he made the misunderstood The New World (2005), a Terrence Malick film that was underseen until people started cluing into The Tree of Life (2011) and then checking out his backlogs.

After that...somehow, someway Colin grew from everyone thinking he was something (tho he was really nothing) into everyone nostalgically remembering him as a legendary actor (he never was), and relishing his two major 2011 roles playing against type. Horrible Bosses (2011) and Fright Night (2011) were both very serviceable films, both largely due to Colin's outrageous performances (much of Kevin Spacey in the former as well).

Of course his best role ever was in In Bruges (2008), which was one of the best films of 2008. Clearly. He even snagged a Golden Globe for that performance. So what does all this mean? Well folks, Colin Farrell isn't all that bad. He's not particularly good, either. I don't know what a Colin Farrell Movie is. Maybe it's Total Recall. He's really thrown himself into roles in the past couple years though, and it actually does seem like he's gotten better with age. I'm not quite sure what to make of him.

So what of the two ladies in this film? Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel are almost female versions of Farrell himself, making it a good fit. Neither, despite being around for the past decade, have really been in all that much, and the stuff they've been in isn't that significant. Think Underworld (2003) and what...Stealth (2005)? How did everyone at once in 2003 decide that Jessica Biel was really hot and deserved a movie career - was it all 7th Heaven? As long as Colin Farrell doesn't specialize in the ridiculous. Yeah, she was in that movie. She's in tons of movies that you don't even think of her being in. Like The Illusionist (2006). Yep.

So, I don't think this film will do well on any Blockbuster level, and I'll probably Netflix it sometime next year just because I feel like having a mediocre Saturday Night. It is one of eighty films Bryan Cranston has made appearances in in the past two years - he'll always be Tim Whatley to me, though. I think we have enough Olympic storylines to go on this weekend, and this sucker gets overlooked big time.

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