• Total Recall: Mind Bending Edition

    Released by: Lionsgate

    Released on: July 31, 2012.

    Director: Paul Verhoeven

    Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Ironside, Sharon Stone

    Year: 1990

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    The Movie:

    Directed by Paul Verhoeven and based on the story ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale’ by Philip K. Dick (adapted by Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, and Gary Goldman), 1990’s Total Recall stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a construction worker named Douglas Quaid who dreams of taking a vacation to Mars despite the protestations of his foxy wife, Lori (Sharon Stone). When Quaid finds out about a company called Rekall that can give you memories of the vacation you’ve never had, he’s intrigued enough to visit their lab where he’s talked into taking the ‘secret agent’ package complete with nefarious villains and a femme fatale of his own design.

    As he lays back and lets the Rekall employees mess with his mind, something happens and he flips out, something is triggered and he soon learns through hints that he left himself some time ago that he actually was a secret agent named Hauser and that he was trying to take out a man named Vilos Cohaagen (Ronny Cox), the man in charge of the Martian colony. When he starts to put the pieces of the puzzle back together, he quickly finds out that his whole life has been one elaborate plot to keep him out of Vilos’ hair, but with Vilos’ right hand man, Richter (Michael Ironside) on the hunt, Hauser will need all the help he can get to uncover the truth about what’s really happened in his past and what’s really happening on Mars. Thankfully he’ll find some help in the form of Melina (Rachel Ticotin), a foxy thing who works at a house of ill repute…

    Total Recall was a lot of fun when it debuted in 1990 and it remains a lot of fun now. The film moves along at great pace and Verhoeven’s knack for darkly comic scenarios ensures that the film is in capable hands. There are plenty of impressive effects sequences and set pieces and loads of action and violence, but much of it is cartoony and comic bookish, never unpleasant or particularly nasty. Realism doesn’t seem to have been a concern here, the focus is on the action – so with that in mind it makes sense that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be cast in the lead. While hardly the world’s greatest actor, he actually does fairly well here, playing his character with a sufficient amount of seemingly genuine confusion and handling himself well when in the film’s many action set pieces.

    Michael Ironside is a lot of fun as Richter, the man in charge of the manhunt to bring Doug/Hauser in. He’s sinister and cruel and seems to be capable of doing whatever it takes to get the job done. Cox makes for a perfectly nasty ‘man behind the scenes’ type character, pulling the strings politically on the red planet to get what he wants out of it, consequences be damned. Obviously the ramifications of his actions are dire but of course, they do have consequences as we learn once the action heads to Mars and we’re introduced to the mutant underground. Upon revisiting the film, it’s easy to see why it’s remained as popular as it is over the years – it delivers constant and completely uninhibited entertainment from start to finish.


    Lionsgate offers up Total Recall on Blu-ray in a nice looking AVC encoded 1.85.1 widescreen transfer in 1080p high definition that is advertised as being newly remastered, director approved and taken from the original negative. The film looks quite good overall – there are a few white specks here and there but if you blink, you’ll miss them while detail is generally quite strong for a movie now more than twenty years old. Colors are generally reproduced nicely (though some scenes look a little less colorful than others) and there are no issues with compression artifacts or heavy edge enhancement, though some may spot it here and there. You might notice some mild shimmering in spots, but then again you might not – it isn’t overpowering in the least and if you’re not looking for it you’re not likely going to pick up on it. Black levels are generally pretty solid and shadow detail is pretty good as well. Skin tones look nice and lifelike if occasionally inconsistent, if there’s any noise reduction here it’s very minor and not a serious problem. Texture is also usually (though not always) quite good. This, and detail, tend to vary from scene to scene a bit. This isn’t the most amazing HD transfer you’ll ever see in your life but it looks pretty good for the most part.

    The primary mix here is an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, though DTS-HD 5.1 tracks are also offered in German and Spanish with subtitles provided in English SDH, French and German. The English track is a pretty aggressive one and if it isn’t reference quality the way something like Avatar might be, it still sounds pretty damn good. Bass response is nice and strong, you’ll notice it when guns go off and you’ll notice it during the big finish too, while dialogue stays clean, clear and up front in the mix. The score is spread around quite effectively and the levels are well balanced throughout the movie.

    As far as the extras go, Total Recall has already had a special edition release on DVD but low and behold, Lionsgate have included a couple of additional all new supplements on this disc starting with a thirty-five minute long Interview with Director Paul Verhoeven. He talks about the script, changes that were made, the effects, the cast and more. Additionally, look for a new five minute Restoration Comparison also exclusive to this release showing how the film was cleaned up for its second Blu-ray release.

    Up next is The Models And Skeletons: The Special Effects Of Total Recall featurette, which is worth seeing for those who haven’t seen it before as it goes fairly in-depth on the technical side of things. It’s made up of interviews with miniatures supervisor Mark Stetson and CGI supervisor Tim McGovern, both of whom have some interesting stories to share about their work on this project. Also carried over is the commentary track featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Paul Verhoeven as is the thirty-one minute long Imagining Total Recall documentary that offers up thirty minutes worth of behind-the-scenes interviews with the film’s stars and special effects specialists including Verhoeven, Schwarzenegger, Ticotin, Stone, production designer William Sandell, writers Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon, editor Frank Urioste, effects supervisor Eric Brevig, and last but not least, the great Jerry Goldsmith. A shorter eight and a half minute long Making Of Total Recall featurette is also here though it’s fairly promotional in nature.

    Rounding out the extras are a photo gallery, the film’s theatrical trailer, trailers for other Lionsgate properties, animated menus and chapter stops.

    The Final Word:

    Total Recall holds up very well as a great mix of action, adventure and science fiction filmmaking. Verhoeven’s unique take on things shines through without completely screwing up Dick’s story and Arnold’s performance is… fun. It’s just fun, the whole movie is a blast from start to finish, offering up an interesting plot, some great supporting actors and a whole lot of action and excitement. Lionsgate’s Special Edition Blu-ray release is a pretty good one, giving us a nice transfer, a solid sound mix and a load of extra features.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. paul h.'s Avatar
      paul h. -
      Get youw ass to mahrs and go to Jack In The Bohx. I'll be needing one of these.