I watched the 2012 Total Recall having almost totally forgotten the original 1990 Schwarzenegger version. I was given to understand that this was more a version of the original P.K. Dick story, "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale". Well, not so much.
This version is set in a dystopian future, where all Earth is uninhabitable except United Federated Britain (England) and the Colony (Australia), with a tunnel straight through the Earth's core between them. Other than switching Mars for Australia, it follows the 1990 movie pretty closely.
The main difference, it seems to me, is in the art direction. I remember the older movie as pretty cartoonish - the goofy robot Johnny Cab, the bad CGI X-Ray, the mutants, heck, Schwarzenegger is a cartoon himself. Here we have a much more Bladerunner feel: concrete, rain and neon. There's also a big dose of video game, running and jumping over concrete block, and through 3-D elevator shafts. Also, hover car chases.
Colin Farrell is definitely a different presence from Schwarzenegger - I think his kind of hurt, puzzled seriousness is cute. The women, Kate Beckinsale (SPOILER - evil) and Jessica Biel (good), are great. They look suspiciously similar, but that's a neat plot point that no one has to point out.
So, all in all, we enjoyed this - in fact, I wanted to revisit a bunch of similar movies: the original, some of the minor Dick movies, like Paycheck and Adjustment Bureau, even Johnny Mnemonic. But in the end, it was pretty much a remake of the movie, not the story.
If any of you have read the story, you probably remember the twist ending punchline. I was really hoping they would use that - what a great set up for a sequel.