Total Recall

Viewed – 20 July 2012  Blu-ray

Ultimate Rekall Edition

With the prospect of yet another remake of a classic movie on the horizon, I thought it as good a time as any to rediscover one of my favorite sci-f action movies of the nineties.  Around the time (1990) you couldn’t avoid big budget event pictures starring Austrian hulk and now former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger … and one of his best was this adaptation of the novel by Philip K Dick (Blade Runner, Minority Report).

Arnie plays Douglas Quade, a construction worker who is always fantasizing about living on Mars.  Yet when he decides to realize his dreams by having a memory implant done by shady company ‘Rekall’ he soon finds his perception of reality radically altered as a gang of mercenaries and a band of resistance are suddenly out to find him.  This is classic sci-fi … a great, mind bending concept, futuristic technology, aliens and government conspiracies.  Arnie is perfect in a role that gives him a lot more to do than just flex his pecs and mow down bad guys.  Under the direction of Paul Verhoeven this also becomes something else.  Having proved his sci-fi skills with cult favorite Robocop, the Dutch helmsman dresses up proceedings in his trade mark sleaze, unnecessary violence and b-movie excess, but aided by a real Hollywood budget.  The effects still look good, most notably Rob Botin’s brilliant make-up designs that still hold their wow-factor.  Some of the early CGI however looks dodgy, but considering this movie is over 20 years old, that’s an easy thing to forgive.

Supporting cast including a before she was famous Sharon Stone and henchman for hire Michael Ironside are both good, and genre stalwart Ronnie Cox returns with a similarly villainous turn as he delivered in Robocop.  In this age of superb effects and stunning, anything is possible technology, the movie is showing its age and the over-the-top feel and Verhoeven’s style seems a tad distasteful and to an extent, absurd (a machine gun wielding midget prostitute, anyone?).  So a product of it’s time, but this remains a great deal of fun … and worthy of seeking out, even if you’ve watched it a dozen times already (like me).

The Blu-ray, whilst not a disaster image-wise, tends to look a touch too bright in comparison to previous DVD versions and that eighties / early nineties soft-focus look does rear its head.  Close-up detail is good though and overall this is still a very nice looking presentation, free of edge enhancement or noise reduction.  The 5.1 DTS Master Audio track is serviceable without being particularly impressive, with a somewhat hollow sound to the dialogue.  Extras consist of the same commentary from the DVD re-release a few years back with Arnie and Verhoeven, as well as a new interview with the director, archive featurettes and documentaries.  A good package then even if the movie’s treatment in HD could have been better … but for fans its still one for the collection.


(the movie): 4 /5

(the Blu-ray): 3 /5

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