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'Total Recall' remake: No replacing Arnold Schwarzenegger

Colin Farrell stars in Columbia Pictures' "Total Recall,"

Colin Farrell stars in Columbia Pictures' "Total Recall," directed by Len Wiseman. Credit: Columbia Pictures

Despite the presence of hot stars like Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale, "Total Recall" isn't a sure bet at the box office when it hits theaters Aug. 3. It's part of a genre that hasn't done well lately: the Arnold Schwarzenegger remake.

On paper, reworking an Arnold movie probably sounds easy. His old blockbusters had in-your-face concepts (a robot from the future!) and durable scripts from pulpmasters like Oliver Stone, who co-wrote "Conan the Barbarian," and Steven E. de Souza, whose credits on top-notch TV junk food like "The Six Million Dollar Man" surely helped him craft Arnold classics like "The Running Man" and "Commando." All you need is a youngish new star with a personal trainer, right?

Wrong. The past several Arnold redo's have been re-don'ts. We can start with 2009's "Terminator Salvation," in which Christian Bale and Sam Worthington competed to see who could show less emotion; both were outdone by a robot wearing Arnold's digitally re-created face. In "Predators" (2010), Arnold was replaced by the slender Adrien Brody, who appeared to weigh less than his machine gun. Last year's remake of "Conan," despite Hawaiian hunk Jason Momoa in the starring role, flopped with just $21 million in ticket sales.

Hmmm, what's the missing ingredient in these movies? That's right -- Arnold Schwarzenegger! There's no replacing that inverted-pyramid torso, the silent-era facial expressions and the semi-unintelligible accent. These days, he's settled into the comfortable role of the cigar-smoking, philandering politician, but during the 1980s and '90s he was an action star with extraordinary charisma.

Somebody finally figured that out: Arnold himself is set to star in a sequel to his 1988 hit comedy, "Twins," with Danny DeVito. (Eddie Murphy may play their brother; the working title is "Triplets"). The upcoming action flick "The Expendables 2" gives Arnold a more active role than the original: The trailer shows him tearing the door off a Smart Car. And last year, the Governator revealed that he was considering revisiting 15 of his old movies.

That may or may not be good news. Are we talking about another "True Lies"? Or another "Kindergarten Cop"?

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