You know what was absolutely vital and what the world could not possibly do without? Yes, you guessed it, a gritty reboot™ of Total Recall. Some could unkindly (but possibly quite accurately) suggest that it is an indication that Hollywood is completely bereft of any form of original idea. The Phillip K. Dick cookie jar is now looking so empty that even The Adjustment Bureau and A Scanner Darkly are considered “good ideas”. Although they do try, they can’t hold a candle to the sheer awfulness of Total Recall v2.0. With all due respect, even the first one with the Governator wasn’t that great. Compared to this turkey however, it is like the Godfather I and II combined (I am pretty sure that there wasn’t a third one. Well a third one that hasn’t been suppressed from my memory in any case). All this goes to show that throwing a truckload of money at an idea does not necessarily make it any good. Total Recall is an example of the vision of the artist far outstretching their abilities to turn this into a reality. The polar opposite to this was the Band of Horses gig at the Palais Theatre. To illustrate this, both will take to the field and settle their differences once and for all.
Colin Farrell was brilliant in Horrible Bosses, as he was in In Bruges. The more astute observers would note that Total Recall is neither of these films, as they were rather good. His performance in Total Recall is far closer to his in Minority Report; another Dick short story that was stretched out far longer than it should have been. By “was stretched out far longer than it should have been” I actually mean “should have been left well alone”. Compare this to Ben Bridwell and the difference from the very start could not be more pronounced. Whilst in the opening scenes of Total Recall, Farrell looks almost as nonplussed / disinterested / confused as his intended audience, Bridwell opened up with a stripped back version of St Augustine that left his audience captivated and thus set the tone for the entire evening.
TOTAL RECALL-0 – BAND OF HORSES-1.
Whilst both Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsdale are infinitely much better looking than Ryan Monroe, Tyler Ramsey, Bill Reynolds and Creighton Barrett, they aren’t nearly as good at what they do. Whether it was when Monroe took over vocal duties for Ain’t No Good to Cry, switched between playing his two sets of keys, throwing his guitar over his head to resume playing without missing a note, Ramsey’s solo that produced an awestruck silence, Barrett’s frenetic drumming or any number of other moments, the opportunities were snapped up and Band of Horses were two goals to the good.
TOTAL RECALL-0 – BAND OF HORSES-2.
This was the third crack at trying to turn Total Recall into something good. Three times it has failed. Reading between the lines here, maybe, just maybe this is the sign that the original premise was, as they say in the classics, rubbish. Perhaps Band of Horses should have been consulted in the film making process. Their setlist contained enough highlights to keep the crowd enraptured for two hours. Things started off strongly with The Great Salt Lake, Is There a Ghost? and Laredo. The middle of the set, bought out the highlight of the entire show, Cigarettes, Wedding Bands, although the stunning conclusion of Ode to LRC and The Funeral were not far behind.
No One’s Gonna Love You and The General Specific provided a hugely satisfying denouement to what had been an amazing night of music.
TOTAL RECALL-0 – BAND OF HORSES-3.
Shoehorning (adj.)- The act of trying to fit in something that really doesn’t belong, just because you feel obliged to do so.
The quintessential example of this is the mutant with 50% more in Total Recall. Whilst mildly amusing in the first, it creates more of an “Oh God, they aren’t desperate enough to trot that one out are they? Why of course they are, how foolish of me to think otherwise”. This produced an effect that was akin to a flapping dickey.
In the Band of Horses set however, everything was in its right place. There was a mix of tracks from all four albums that kept fans of all eras happy. Therefore in this category, Total Recall has “won” and pulled one back.
TOTAL RECALL-1 – BAND OF HORSES-3.
I watched Total Recall on a QANTAS flight to New Zealand for work. There are at least four things wrong with that sentence.
TOTAL RECALL-1 – BAND OF HORSES-4.
When you are trying to build something which instead of having a solid core has a pocket of air or even less substance than that, you are always going to struggle. That is why you seldom see bok choy served by itself; it really, really needs lots of things to give it flavour. Special effects generally do exactly the same thing. Sometimes it comes off. This however was not one of those cases. Total Recall is essentially a limp bok choy. A bok choy that is so limp and insipid that all the XO sauce, garlic, chilli, sesame oil in the world cannot salvage it. I know this from personal experience as I did throw things at it, but this was unintentional as turbulence dislodged a “food-esque” item from my tray.
At the other end of the spectrum, Band of Horses went for a minimalist approach. They had a sheet with some trees printed on it. And lights. This was all that was needed to create a truly memorable experience. As much of a distraction that the special effects were in Total Recall, they had as much impact upon the end product as a glass of water being thrown on the flaming remains of the Hindenburg.
TOTAL RECALL-1 – BAND OF HORSES-5.
…and after 90 minutes, the massacre that everyone expected to see has come to fruition. Despite the briefest of comebacks at the start of second half, Total Recall has been pummelled by Band of Horses, who have scored a resounding victory for artistic integrity over the forces of rampant commercialism masquerading as cinema.
Live review musings and Total Recall rants are by Aymeric de Rosbo – Your Gig Radar