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
- Memory Pain: The Original Total Recall Revisited (thequietus.com)
- TOTAL RECALL (1990) Blu-Ray Review (thepeoplesmovies.com)
- ‘Total Recall’ Cast Explains How the Remake is Different from the Original (screenrant.com)