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‘Recall’ Director Stays True to Original, Makes it His Own

12 Oct, 2012 By: Chris Tribbey

Director Len Wiseman on the set of 'Total Recall.'

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — It’s not easy to direct the remake of a beloved sci-fi film. Just ask Len Wiseman.

Twice (2011 and 2012) the remake of the 1990 favorite Total Recall was brought before discerning Comic-Con crowds. In 2011 he said the fans were beyond skeptical. And what a difference a year made.

“We showed about a seven-minute piece at [2012] Comic-Con, and I felt the energy had switched from ‘Why?’ to being intrigued about it and interested,” said Wiseman, who previously directed Underworld and Live Free or Die Hard. “At the end of the day, people aren’t going to want to pay to see the exact same experience.”

No Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a sci-fi held only below the actor’s “Terminator” franchise and Predator. No Sharon Stone either. In their places, an all-star line-up: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston. No trip to Mars. Instead, a futuristic conspiracy that runs through the center of Earth.

A three-breasted woman made the cut, though.

“I thought it was appropriate to bring in some things people would be familiar with,” Wiseman said.

Wiseman had seen the 1990 film before reading the original Philip K. Dick story, “and I remember reading the story in college, and saying, ‘I think this is that movie, that Arnold movie. I went to go see that [1990 Total Recall] as ‘I want to go see that Arnold movie.’”

But seeing that the remake was so different did cause Wiseman pause, albeit minor.

“I remember reading the script, and I was a little concerned that it didn’t go to Mars, and immediately that concern turned into complete interest, being griped about not knowing where it was going, which is one of the reasons I decided to do the movie,” Wiseman said. “I was waiting for Mars to show up while I was reading, and when it didn’t, it became uncharted territory, no idea where it was going. And that’s a good thing.”

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment streets the remake on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and DVD/BD combo pack Dec. 18, with all three including an UltraViolet version. Blu-ray versions will include commentaries, nearly a dozen featurettes and an extended cut of the film.

“There’s some very elaborate featurettes, looking at some large-scale, practical effects versus high-end visual effects, and a blending of those practical effects versus digital effects,” Wiseman said. “I think people will be surprised at how much is practical.”

Wiseman’s original cut ran up against 2:20, and he laughed when asked about what he wanted to keep (answer: almost all of it).

“Rarely do you find yourself with ‘Oh shit, we’re too short, we have to add some stuff in,’” he said. “I really enjoy elaborating on the themes and questions, the mind game, the chess game of it all, fantasy versus reality.”

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