Some things have been improved since the 1990 version, but overall, it’s an inferior film.
The acting is better, across the board. Colin Farrell is a better actor than Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is able to convey the sense of bewilderment and confusion that was so painfully missing from the 1990 version. Kate Beckinsale is better than Sharon Stone; Stone had one tactic and that was to distract Schwarzenegger by offering to have sex with him. Beckinsale, on the other hand, is kick ass. Legitimately dangerous. Seriously, is there a more fit and athletic actress in Hollywood than Beckinsale? I don’t know how much of the action here is a stunt double and how much is her, but she’s convincing. She’s an action hero, and deserves a better forum than the “Underworld” movies – and this. I hope she gets it. Even Jessica Beal is better than her counterpart.
But what made Paul Verhoeven’s version interesting and memorable was all the weird stuff, and this version has taken every bit of that out. There are no mutants let alone mind reading ones, no Venus City running out of air, no Johnny Cabs, no goggly eyes or malfunctioning robot disguises or pulling giant red orbs out through noses. There aren’t even any ancient alien handprints. There is a three breasted woman.
Even the color palette has been dimmed down. I don’t remember Verhoeven’s version as being particularly colorful, but this version is grey, and grayer, and sometimes black and white. There are guys who look like Storm Troopers and guys who like Arctic Camo G.I. Joe.
I guess in the end, even Arnold’s woodenness and Stone’s one note performance (they’re coming to kill you. How about a quickie?) add to the charm of TR 1990. It’s a ridiculous future, but a fun and memorable one. TR 2012 is more realistic, I suppose. But if that’s what the future looks like, I’ll take the fantasy.
Verdict: Not Recommended. If you must watch one, watch the old one instead.