Total Recall


Viewed – 01 January 2013 online rental

I’m certainly a fan of the nineties Arnold Schwarzenegger original but unlike many remakes in recent years, I didn’t bulk at the prospect of this.  Colin Farrell plays Doug Quaide, yearning for something else in his blue-collar life working in a futuristic metropolis plagued by terrorist attacks and overseen by an oppressive government.  One day he stumbles upon shady organization ‘rekall’ with the promise of giving him the adventurous memories he craves – yet soon he is thrown into a life he never knew he was a part of, where he may not be who he thought he was.

total-recall

Farrell is gradually becoming one of my favorite actors, and takes to this energetic and intriguing movie with aplomb.  Supported well by a double dose of babe in the lovely shape of Kate Beckinsale & Jessica Biel, and with impressive set design, beautiful CGI and slick action (including a great freeway hover-car chase) – this further developing the Philip K Dick short story whilst adding plenty of ideas of its own. Mars this time is absent, replaced by a future where people travel from one side of the world to the other via a huge elevator shaft drilled through the earths core (!).

That being said, some plot details do get confusing, major characters are under developed and it lacks the one-liners and sleazy excess Paul Verheoven brought to the original (the presence of the three breasted woman making little sense). However, director Len Wisemen (Die Hard 4.0) further cements his place as one of the better action guys around … meaning this still packed a punch.

Verdict: 3.5 /5

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.

Verdict:

(the movie): 4 /5

(the Blu-ray): 3 /5