The latest version of Total Recall follows much the same formula as its 90s predecessor. That is, strong 'hunky' male lead (I'm sorry, but I've never found Arnie to be good-looking at all) Schwarzenegger/Farrell, teamed with/against an attractive and desirable 'wife' Stone/Beckinsale, and a beautiful intelligent lover Rachel Ticotin/Biel. Beckinsale's character Lori does have a much larger role (and a lot more screen time) in the latest Total Recall than Stone's Lori had in 1990. Beckinsale herself is a spy in the latest adaptation and hunts Farrell and Biel with an almost life-driven intensity. In the original Total Recall, Stone seemed to be just a pretty thing to look at.
Total Recall (2012) also follows much of the same plot as Total Recall (1990) and I must say it is an interesting premise, even the second time around. Douglas Quaid (Schwarzenegger/Farrell) dreams of an alternate life so much so that he visits Rekall, a company that implants artificial memories, and chooses to be implanted with memories of life as a secret agent. In both films this goes terribly wrong and is the catalyst for all that comes next.
In the 1990 version of Total Recall, where humans have not only conquered space travel but live on other planets as well Schwarzenegger dreams of his implanted adventure taking place on the planet Mars. In the 2012 version, where Earth has been reduced to two territories in the aftermath of the bio-chemical warfare of the Third World War, Farrell just 'knows' he's meant for something else.
Setting is really the main difference between the 1990 and 2012 Total Recall films. Whilst both are set in the future, Schwarzenegger's film begins on Earth but is set on the planet Mars where political rebellion is rife. Farrell's Total Recall is set completely on Earth, but a very different Earth to what we know. Separated into two regions the United Federation of Britain and the Colony political rebellion has broken out in the working class' domain.
Something else I picked up on whilst watching the latest Total Recall was the total lack of gross, bloody and highly unnecessary violent scenes. Total Recall (1990) was full of them. Yes, the latest version has gun-fights and hand-to-hand combat, but none of the over-exaggerated blood spurts, loss of limbs or 'mutations' (excepting of course, the three-breasted woman, who does make a reappearance in Total Recall (2012)).
So here's my personal dot list of noted differences (you may class this as a 'spoiler alert') between Total Recall (1990) and Total Recall (2012):
Lori plays a much larger role in the 2012 version and is actually pretty kick-ass
Setting Mars vs. post-apocalyptic Earth
Fight scenes 1990 version is more about bloody gun-fights whilst 2012 version is more physical fighting
Mutants 1990 version contains mutants on Mars, 2012 contains lower socio-economic society on the Colony
Technology Schwarzenegger's world dreamt up some pretty cool technology (enabling humans to live on Mars), but its nothing compared to the technological advancements seen in Farrell's world (hover cars, magnetic force weaponry, synthetic police, 'the fall' etc)
'The helper' in the 1990 version 'a friend' of Quaid/Hauser's gives him the suitcase that puts him on the path to identity retrieval, but this 'friend' is actually sided with Cohaagen. In the 2012 version, a friend calls Quaid/Hauser and informs him that he is in danger. This friend, although working for Cohaagen, does actually sympathise with the Rebels and helps Quaid/Hauser escape from Cohaagen's grasp losing his life in the process.
Well, there you have it, the differences between the two Total Recall films. There's not a great deal of them, but I think it's enough. Total Recall (2012) does follow the same principle ideas and plotlines as Total Recall (1990), but the amazing fight scenes, the stronger presence of Lori and the modernity of the film (and the absence of horrible gory/bloody scenes) reinvigorated the whole premise for me. I still like both films there's great entertainment value in both.
Not sure if i want to watch the new one as the original one is one of those classic movies that i think shouldn't be remade. Especially if the new version is worse than the original.. It just doesnt feel right