I have similar feelings toward both Total Recall and The NeverEnding Story: they’re both really cool, fully-realized genre movies (despite ’80s-era special effects) that tackle some weighty issues and probably aren’t given the mainstream respect they deserve.
The NeverEnding Story is simply a classic fantasy movie.Â A kid reads a book about a fantasy world faced with a threat known as The Nothing — a threat which won’t simply kill them, but erase their very existence.Â A “reading is good” message is forced down your throat in the process, but the very concept of an evil force that consisted only of a lack of existence is a fascinating concept for a kid.Â And everybody remembers Atreyu’s adventures with Falkor.Â And the Childlike Empress.Â Man, she was awesome.
Likewise, Total Recall is also a headtrip in the best possible sense.Â In the future, a lowly construction worker keeps having recurring dreams of going to Mars (now colonized), which inspires him to visit Rekall, a company that sells imaginary, virtual-reality adventures.Â He picks a Mars adventure, but when Rekall tries to implant it, it’s discovered that his memory has recently been erased — and unbenknownst to even himself, he’s actually a secret agent from Mars in hiding.Â This realization eventually leads him to Mars, where he goes on a big adventure — but is it real, or is the entire thing just the virtual reality scenario from Rekall?Â The best part is that the movie never tells us.
Both of these cult classics are being remade: NeverEnding Story for Warner Bros. and Total Recall for Columbia.Â Good news or bad news?Â My main problem with it is that both movies are pretty perfect as-is — even the special effects are done as good as they possibly could have been at the time, and add to their charm.
The goal should be to find a different angle from which to tell each story while keeping the plot elements that made the first ones special — and not just to cash in on a pre-existing brand.
The producers of the NeverEnding Story remake seem to understand this, and promise that the intent will be to “examine the more nuanced details of the book that were glossed over in the first pic,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.
But as for Total Recall, producer Neal Moritz says he “hoped the advancements in technology and state-of-the-art visual effects can help tell the story in a fresh way.”Â That sounds a lot like “we’re going to redo it, just with more CGI.”
Whether the news excited or depresses you, though, I’ll say what I always say about remakes, adaptations, director’s cuts, and any other kind of revision: the original isn’t going anywhere.Â If the new version isn’t good, we’ll always have the first one.
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