Two very different projects - Disney's Oz: The Great and Powerful and Columbia Pictures' Total Recall - are slated to begin shooting in the near future. Hence why there's recently been an uptick in casting news for both director Sam Raimi's fantasy prequel and Len Wiseman's sci-fi remake.
Zach Braff is the latest addition to the cast of Raimi's Wizard of Oz flick; meanwhile, John Cho (a.k.a. Sulu in the new Star Trek - and Harold from the Harold & Kumar movies) has signed on for Wiseman's new project.
Deadline says that Braff will star in Oz as Frank, the "loyal but under-appreciated" aid to the titular fellow (James Franco). That reads as an appropriate bit of casting, seeing that put-upon but endearing characters are basically Braff's speciality - and the decision to cast an actor of the Scrubs veteran's stature in this role suggests Frank will be accompanying Oz on his unexpected journey, somewhere over the rainbow.
Braff and Franco will appear in Raimi's Oz opposite a lovely trio of actresses (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams) as a trio of witches who end up getting involved with the titular "wizard" - in more ways than one. Don't expect anything too risque, though, since this is still a Disney movie.
Raimi's own version of the Land of Oz will hopefully be something creative and memorable - and not just a largely CGI retread of the magical realm, as portrayed in the original Wizard of Oz movie. Oz: The Great and Powerful actually has a lot going for it, which could translate into a surprisingly entertaining and imaginative final product. As always, we shall have to wait and see for now.
Paul Verhoeven's 1990 Total Recall movie was a hit in its own right and remains a favorite of many a sci-fi/action fan today. However, there's no denying that it's foremost a violent Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle that doesn't have a lot to do with its inspiration, the Philip K. Dick short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale". For better or for worse, Wiseman's Total Recall hopes to distinguish itself from Verhoeven's film by adhering more closely to Dick's source material.
Colin Farrell is the new Schwarzenegger in Wiseman's Total Recall, which will also feature admirable names like Bryan Cranston as the villainous Vilos Cohaagen, Bill Nighy as the resistance-leading Quatto - and (according to EW) Cho as McClane, a suave rep for the futuristic company that offers Farrell the chance to experience an imagined (or is it?) adventure of a lifetime.
Total Recall is undoubtedly going borrow a few tricks from Inception's playbook, but hopefully the former will feel more like a unique and mind-bending sci-fi thriller, and less of a retread of superior, previously-released titles. If nothing else, at least moviegoers can enjoy eye candy in the form of Farrell, Jessica Biel, and Wiseman's Underworld leading lady/significant other, Kate Beckinsale.
Total Recall begins production next week. It is slated for theatrical release on August 3rd, 2012.
Oz: The Great and Powerful is scheduled to begin shooting this July. The 3D title will reach theaters on March 8th, 2013.