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The Cricket
Sean P. Means
Sean is the movie critic and columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @moviecricket.

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This film image released by Columbia Pictures shows Jessica Biel , left, and Colin Farrell in a scene from the action thriller "Total Recall." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures - Sony, Michael Gibson)
Friday movie roundup: "Recall" redux

Colin Farrell in a remake in August? Talk about deja vu.

Last year, Farrell starred in a cool remake of the 1985 vampire tale "Fright Night." This week, Farrell is in the lead of "Total Recall," director Len Wiseman's slick and action-packed remake of Paul Verhoeven's 1990 sci-fi thriller. Farrell is a better Everyman than Arnold Schwarzenegger, taking on the role of factory worker Doug Quaid – who decides to try a memory-fantasy service, and suddenly finds he's actually a super-spy caught up in a rebellion against a nasty dictator (Bryan Cranston). Wiseman's take on the tale (inspired by a Philip K. Dick short story) isn't as nutzo as Verhoeven, but the action pieces are stylish and Kate Beckinsale (Mrs. Wiseman) is ferocious in the Sharon Stone role.

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The kiddie comedy "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" is the third installment of a franchise that's never been that fun to begin with. This time, neurotic seventh-grader Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) looks forward to a summer vacation of video games and pursuing the pretty Holly Hills (Peyton List) – but ends up dodging his dad (Steve Zahn) and throwing his best buddy Rowley (Robert Capron) under the bus to cover up his many embarrassments. The life lessons in the final reel aren't enough to compensate for just how unlikeable and self-centered Greg is throughout this series.

The art-house slate is topped with the fascinating documentary "The Queen of Versailles," which takes a verité look at extreme wealth in America – through the experiences of David and Jackie Siegel, king of a timeshare empire and his much younger wife, as their opulent lifestyle is threatened when the bursting housing bubble affects the timeshare business. Director Lauren Greenfield casts a bright light on avarice and its aftereffects. (Read The Cricket's interview with Greenfield.)

"Dark Horse" is the latest from misanthropic writer-director Todd Solondz ("Welcome to the Dollhouse," "Happiness"), and at first it feels like another wallow in unpleasant characters being bad to themselves. But somewhere along the way, Solondz's profile of Abe (Jordan Gelber) – a fat loser who lives with his parents (Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow) and impulsively proposes to a sad-sack woman (Selma Blair) – lightens up just a bit, as Solondz and the audience get to like and empathize with Abe.

Lastly, there's the thriller "Red Lights," which debuted at this year's Sundance Film Festival. It stars Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy as paranormal researchers trying to figure out the truth behind a famous psychic (Robert DeNiro). The Cricket missed this movie at Sundance, and it wasn't screened for local critics before this week's release.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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