Although the trailers looked fairly decent, the remake of Total Recall was probably one of the most embarrassing stiffs of 2012.
True, it wasn’t a disaster on the level of John Carter, but the film obviously didn’t live up to its expectations with the critics or audiences - and it certainly didn’t light the box office on fire.
The powers that be behind the Total Recall remake were hoping that today’s audiences were ready for an updated version of the sci-fi classic, with producer Neal Moritz telling the L.A. Times, "The majority of people under 35 don’t even know about the original. The tone of it was so much different from what I wanted to do." As it turned out, Moritz couldn’t have been more wrong, because there are still plenty of fans who love the original to this day.
Len Wiseman, who directed the new Total Recall, told Digital Spy, "I felt like we were really battling nostalgia. To remake nostalgia is quite tough. I was surprised by the amount of love there is for Arnold’s portrayal of that character."
Wiseman had previously read the Philip K. Dick story, and Quaid was far different on the big screen. “I was excited by the idea of not trying to replace Arnold but to present a new type of Quaid,” Wiseman continued.
So when audiences were still yearning for Arnold’s performance, and weren’t ready for a new model Quaid, Wiseman said, "it was a weird experience." He was surprised at "how much people were really getting upset that it strayed from the Arnold version, which is already a departure from the original source material. There are two things that people got really upset about – that Arnold was not there and that we didn’t travel to Mars."
Of course, In the Dick story, which was originally titled "We Can Remember It For Your Wholesale," there wasn't a trip to the red planet either.
As many filmmakers are discovering these days, it’s tough to win with a remake, especially when the movie you’re remaking isn’t that old, and is still beloved by fans.
Indeed, Wiseman put it very well when he said, "To remake nostalgia is quite tough," especially when Arnold was still on top of his game as an action star, and was a year away from peaking with Terminator 2.