Sorry, Farrell, but you're no Douglas Quaid.

I heard recently that the sci-fi classic (yes, I said 'classic') 'Total Recall' (1990), was going to get one of these 'reboots' or 're-imaginings' or whatever the current turn of phrase is. They've got Len Wiseman, the helmer of the 'Underwrold' franchise and husband to ultra fox Kate Beckinsale.  So far, the only not-quite-solid confirmation is that Coin Farrell is to re-imagine the character originally crafted by the former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Oh, Arnold, it sounds pretty much like it's spelled CALIFORNIA. I'm pretty sure you can gather how to say it right BY PRONOUNCING THE LETTERS CORRECTLY. And don't gimme any crap, Arnold. I can't ever be president either. 
The rumor mill says Beckinsale is in talks to play one of the two key, female roles in 'Recall'. And while I'm all for Beckinsale in anything, except perhaps an Adam Sandler movie as his love interest. Seriously, dude, I know you're rich and famous and you got clout, but IT'S NOT BELIEVABLE. Anyhow, this talk about reboot got me thinking about the original and I remembered that I had picked up a $10 Blu-ray copy from Target a few months back. It was still wrapped and organized (by my wife) in alphabetical order in our movie library. So I excitedly grabbed it and announced to my wife that we were about to watch "a cinematic classic". Being a film buff, Denna was looking forward to it, but apprehensive since she knows my eclectic taste in films (from Cannibal Holocaust to Casablaca). And much to her dismay, I presented 'Total Recall'. I did my best to pitch it to her, but no dice. So, maybe I can pitch it to you. Let me give you a little background on the film.
Considered by many to be one of the most prolific and influential writers of the cyber-punk movement of the early to mid 80's, the film is based on the work of author Philip K. Dick. His subject matter, which has always been a topic I've come to explore in my own writing, tackles the struggle with duality. Dick's characters are intelligent and flawed and torn, but silently hopeful and always snarky. He paints with a dark palette, often causing things to come into glaring relief. And they aren't always things even we, as the viewer, can ignore about who we are.
Get Yeh Azz To Mahz.
Based on a short story called 'We can Remember It for You Wholesale', the movie deals with construction worker Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who toils at the job site, by day, but dreams of a life on Mars at night. His wife, Lori (Sharon Stone), can't understand why he dreams of being on Mars, when he's never been. And she quietly chuckles at hearing that each time Quaid visits Mars, in his dreams, he is side by side with a mysterious brunette (Rachel Ticotin). But each time he dreams of Mars, Quaid wakes up screaming and in a cold sweat.
After watching a commercial for an outfit named 'Rekall', a wholesale memory dealer- yes, as in "I remember when…" kind of memories -where you can go and get memories of a vacation you'd otherwise not be able to afford. He makes an appointment, shows up and buys an extra special package. He's not just gonna take vacation; he's gonna take an adventure.
The fast-talking memory salesman (Ray Baker) talks Quaid into a special perk: you don't go on vacation as yourself; you go as someone else. Among the assorted identities you can pick, the salesman pitches 'secret agent'. "You're a 007-type who's in deep cover in the Mars resistance. You'll fight your way through their ranks, quell the rebellion and get the girl." Its not word for word, granted, but you get the gist.
Excited about his "trip", Quaid sits in the chair waiting for the procedure. Several minutes later, the salesman is in the middle of a pitch when the attending technician calls screaming about a botched procedure, they come to find out that he's already had one. Before long, Quaid finds himself in an automated taxi, one of the film's great gimmicks ('Welcome to Johnny Cab'). He has no clue how he got there and the robot driver ain't much help either. Soon, he discovers that he's not who he thinks he is. In fact, he's actually a secret agent named Hauser and he's on a mission to liberate Mars. As with any work by Philip K. Dick, this is where you turn the story on its ear. And this is where what was real meets what was just a…memory. And by the end of the movie, you're not sure if Quaid was lobotomized or if he truly is the secret agent he thinks he is.
I could have gone on and revealed the entire plot, but even though I know this is a film that millions of people have seen on cable and bought at the discount rack at Wal-Mart, I'm gonna spare the few who have yet to enjoy this film. That's just my policy.
Anyhow, the movie has stood the test of time, considering it comes from a period in film that was mix of late 70's B-movie action mixed with a slasher film mixed with something out of a Troma movie (geek reference). A cleaner, more stylized grindhouse movie. And while many might dispute my next statement, I think its very true, for this film: 'Total Recall' is among modern science fiction's most important classic & cult films. While it solidified Schwarzenegger's status as action star, it also highlighted a period in sci-fi films where they weren't afraid to tell the story, even if they had to break a few eggs or kill a few hundred people. Sort of reminiscent of the films of the late 60's and early 70's. 
I had to get rid of a bunch of discs a while back and sadly, my tin, special edition, so I was looking forward to taking this home and popping it in the BD player. The picture doesn't pop like I remember. Maybe it was a transfer issue. And the audio doesn't have much snap either. Its almost tinny sometimes. I expected way more from the ultimate movie format than what this disc delivered.

It was frustrating enough to play this movie on my plasma and not feel like it was the best possible transfer or remastering of this film. Then I discover that there's only one special feature on the disc. It's called 'Visions of Mars' and it has nothing to do with the movie. Rather, it gives you some history on our quest to understand and, someday, conquer Mars.

I'm really upset that they've decided to "update" this movie. I'm not particularly happy about their directing choice. Although, it would bring the ever hot Kate Beckinsale into the fold since she's married to Wiseman. And I'm not unhappy with the choice of Colin Farrell either. I like him. He can be over the top sometimes, he could pull off the Quaid/Hauser thing. And I'd loooooove to see what they're gonna do with Kuato. That's one of the best things about the original. Its the kitch in the action, the incredibly obvious animatronics (head to and look up 'Total Recall' clips, then find the one with the fake head) and the always unintelligible dialogue delivered by a younger, grittier Schwarzenegger. And I guess I shouldn't complain about the quality of the DVD since I only paid $10 for it, but I think this is a great movie and there should be a good, quality restoration available with a mine full of terrific features. Okay, Ah-nold. You're not governor of Ka-lee-four-knee-ah anymore. Why don't you see what you can do about this otherwise kon-zidah-diz-ah-divouuz (consider this a divorce).


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