Total Recall Sci-Fi. Starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy. Directed by Len Wiseman Cert 12A
IN the 1990 version of Total Recall, Paul Verhoeven took the Philip K Dick short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale as a launch pad for a wildly extravagant and, at times, deranged slice of sci-fi entertainment. It was brash, it was quite bonkers and it was great fun. This version is none of those things.
Set in a future where some class of chemical warfare apocalypse has rendered most of the planet uninhabitable apart from the United Federation of Britain (which also includes Ireland, so Shinners of a sci-fi bent might want to cover their eyes at the start of the film) and The Colony, aka Australia, the story revolves around the UFB's need for living space, while their hard-pressed workforce are transported to London on a giant train-type vehicle which passes through the centre of the earth.
However, there's potential rebellion in the air and thus we find Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), a factory worker who keeps having recurring dreams about being a secret agent.
Against the advice of his security forces wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale), he visits a firm called ReKall which can provide memories as if they were real, but things go drastically awry during the procedure and we're off on an endless series of chases and gun battles which wear out their welcome very quickly.
Fans of the original will be dismayed that none of the story involves a trip to Mars (London is hardly as glamorous, admit it) and while Colin Farrell does his best as Quaid, a confused man on the run who doesn't know who or what he is, he doesn't have the knowing presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The daft exuberance of the first film is entirely missing, replaced instead with visual and thematic lifts from other, vastly superior movies.
Director Len Wiseman and his production team have cogged from Blade Runner, The Core and I, Robot to name but three, while adding little or nothing that's fresh or in any way original. With the final 40 minutes descending into a confusing and at times indecipherable mess -- try telling Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel apart in a fast-edited fight sequence, I dare you.
Total Recall lacks any redeeming or memorable features. Easily one to forget.
A FEW BEST MEN Comedy. Starring Kris Marshall, Kevin Bishop, Xavier Samuel, Laura Brent, Jonathan Biggins, Olivia Newton-John. Directed by Stephan Eliott. Cert 15A
Following the success of The Hangover and Bridesmaids, it seems that every company has to have a wedding comedy on their slate. So Disney has gone to Australia for its slice of the action.
Directed by Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) and written by Dean Craig (author of Death at a Funeral, a script so bad and we had to suffer UK and US versions a couple of years back) this film is crass, blindingly obvious and dreadfully lacking any semblance of wit or humour.
English backpacker David (Xavier Samuel) falls for beautiful Australian Mia (Laura Brent) on an idyllic Pacific island and they become engaged. With the wedding taking place in Oz, David insists that his three best mates travel for the ceremony -- what could possibly go wrong?
You'll have no problem working out how every strand of this broad farce will eventually resolve itself but, by God, it's a painful way to waste 90-odd minutes of your life. HIIII
BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO Thriller. Starring Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco, Antonio Mancino, Fatma Mohamed, Chiaro D'Anna. Directed by Peter Strickland Cert 15A
Fans of Italian horror movies from the seventies and eighties should find plenty to hold their attention here. British director Peter Strickland's second film (his debut was the acclaimed revenge thriller Katalin Varga) is set in Rome in the seventies as timid sound engineer Gilderoy arrives at the studio of the title to provide effects for a grisly horror movie called The Equestrian Vortex.
Soon finding himself caught between a bullying production team and an almost Kafkaesque bureaucracy when it comes to claiming his expenses, Gilderoy begins to fear that he's losing his mind as he chops up all manner of fruit and vegetables and elicits screams from actresses to soundtrack the gorefest he's working on.
Strickland pulls a neat trick, too, by never showing us any actual footage of the film, thereby allowing us to be manipulated by the ever- terrifying nature of the soundtrack the central character is creating as his composure crumbles.
The movie does drift into Lynchian levels of pretension in the final act but for most of its duration, it's a refreshingly different and quite creepy work from an extremely promising director. HHHII
SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS Documentary. Starring James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem. Directed by Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace. Cert 15A
LCD Soundsystem's farewell show in Madison Square Garden provides the framework for this documentary in which frontman James Murphy is also interviewed by an extremely annoying journalist about why he chose to make the decision to stop all LCD-related activities.
The film is at least 20 minutes too long but the concert footage is admittedly excellent, although I would have liked to hear what the other band members thought about Murphy's 'brave' decision to pull the plug. HHHII