TOTAL RECALL: LIMITED EDITION
Review by Michael Jacobson
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside,
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 113 Minutes
Release Date: September 18, 2001
to Mars, man!”
a seemingly simple story about a man whose memory was stolen against a
futuristic background of interplanetary revolution, throw in lots of action,
violence, special effects and eye candy, and add one mega movie star, and
you’ve got one helluva spectacle.
movie is, of course, Total Recall, and the star is Arnold Schwarzenegger.
To be fair, I should say, he’s one of the stars.
He’s the man the audience identifies with as he travels across space in
hopes of finding out who he is and why he’s become so dangerous to so many.
The other star is the film’s fantastic look, which is a colorful,
imaginative world of unforgettable visuals.
plays Doug Quaid, a simple construction worker with a beautiful wife (Stone)
living a modest existence sometime in the next century.
He dreams about Mars and a woman unknown to him, and lately, these
thoughts have begun obsessing him.
opts for a solution: a company
called Rekall that offers an alternative to expensive and dangerous vacation
travel. They simply implant in your
brain the memory of a vacation, complete with details and souvenirs, exactly set
to the customer’s specifications. With
Doug choosing a role playing option as a secret agent, he decides to try and
experience the Mars trip he’s always dreamed about.
something goes wrong. It turns out,
Doug’s memory had been wiped out and replaced with a new one.
The Rekall procedure temporarily awakened part of his old self, and now,
his whole world is turning upside down. People
he thought were friends are trying to kill him.
People he never met are trying to help him.
His only solution: go to
Mars for real and find out who he really is, and what his role might be in an
say more would be wrong, as the movie is filled with surprise twists and a
playful sense of is-it-real-or-not scenarios.
Director Paul Verhoeven, suffice to say, has delivered a classic mixture
of science fiction and action that’s like a relentless roller coaster ride
from beginning to end. Arnold is in
top form here, providing the perfect action hero and protagonist for his
audience, as well as getting to kill a lot of people and blowing a lot of stuff
of the last effects movies shot before the dawn of CGI, Total Recall used
tradition means of creating special effects in extraordinary ways.
The picture earned a special achievement Academy Award for its efforts,
and even a decade later when we’re used to the idea of computer aided design
in movies, the effects hold up well…most importantly, they contribute to the
story and characters, fleshing out a detailed world in which strife and violence
are the norm.
saw this movie on opening night back in 1990, and it’s an experience I’ll
never forget. My friends and I knew
very little about the picture going in, other than it was the latest
Schwarzenegger movie, and we were all blown away by what we saw. I’m going to stop talking about it now, in case you happen
to be one of the lucky few who haven’t experienced this film yet…you deserve
to see it with your guard down and your sense of wonder completely intact.
opening shots of Mars look terrific, followed by a very unpromising sequence
with Schwarzenegger and Stone in their apartment that looks horrible:
dry, grainy, and with edge enhancements producing distracting shimmers.
However, the transfer picks up immediately afterward, and the rest of the
film looks quite good, getting better as it goes along, in fact.
By the time we arrive at Venusville on Mars, the imagery is completely
spectacular, with a wide array of colors and pristine, sharp details that bring
shot after shot to vivid life.
5.1 soundtrack is a real treat, too. Some
scenes that are dialogue only are a bit thin sounding, but thankfully, there
aren’t many of those in the picture. The
action scenes reign supreme, and the digital remix doesn’t disappoint, opening
up the experience across both stages with smooth crossovers and plenty of
discreet effects, as well as good low punch delivered by the .1 channel.
The dynamic range is spectacular, especially during the film’s loud
guess I should start with the case, which is a rather clever gimmick:
the disc is in a round, red metal case shaped like Mars with raised
markings on the top (including the famous face).
It sits on a cardboard mount, making it about the same height and width
as a double DVD case, so fitting it into your collection shouldn’t be a
are many extras on the disc itself, starting with a commentary track with Arnold
Schwarzenegger and Paul Verhoeven together…a fairly entertaining listen, but
both men are masters at stating the obvious. “This is a special effects shot,” Verhoeven says as we
look at the Mars exteriors…just in case you thought it was location
shooting…that kind of thing.
is also an “Imagining Total Recall” documentary, featuring interviews
with Verhoeven and his crew, plus Arnold. It’s
a good piece that details the ten year history of the project and how and why it
changed hands over the years. There
is a “Visions of Mars” featurette that details the actual Mars exploration
efforts, storyboards, photo gallery, production notes, conceptual art,
theatrical and teaser trailer with numerous TV spots, plus talent files.
As an added feature, there are three “virtual vacations” from Rekall
that you can pick from…they’re kind of like screensavers, but made somewhat
interesting by the use of 5.1 sound for all three of them.