Tuesday, September 02, 2008

REVIEW: Total Recall

Total Recall

Year: 1990
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, Michael Ironside
Distributor: TriStar Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

Total Recall is and will always be, my favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. This was one of the few Arnold films I ever saw and just loved it. I have been a big fan of this film since I first saw it. Based on the short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick, Total Recall was hyped as the next great film from legendary author Philip K. Dick after the success of Blade Runner. Grossing over $260 million worldwide on a budget of $60 million made this film a box office smash, but was it really better than Blade Runner? In short answer, no.

Plot Outline:
Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has a normal life in the future. He's happily married to a beautiful woman (Sharon Stone) and works as a construction worker. His only problem is that he has been having nightmares about Mars, a place he desperately wants to visit. He goes to Rekall Incorporated, a company that implants the memories of a far away vacation into the minds of its customers. As he goes in to receive a Mars memory trip, something goes very wrong. He is soon being chased by Richter (Michael Ironside) and his people who want him dead. He begins to realize that he cant trust anyone.

The story of Total Recall is pretty good. It is nowhere near as grand as Blade Runner, but Its filled with plot twists and turns that will keep the audience excited. The plot starts off really well and continues to stay on that path. It tends to get intense and interesting at the same time, making you want more of the film. We also get introduced to cool characters that we tend to root for no matter what the mistake they make. While this is good and entertaining, the story doesn't give you alot of answers to this plot. In the end, it will leave you with some unanswered questions that might bug you. With that said, this is still an entertaining SCI-FI film from start to finish and one that will have you coming back for more. The action is raw and the explosions look great. I never get tired of watching this film so I guess that means something.

The cast of Total Recall is alittle above average. Arnold portrays the main character in the film and he does an honest job as Doug Quaid, but nothing special. I enjoyed his performance, but this isn't Oscar material. Michael Ironside plays as Richter and he gives a good performance here. I really enjoyed his character and thought he made a good badass opposite Arnold. Sharon Stone plays as Lori and I think she doesn't have enough screen time. I liked her role here and thought it was cleaver, but I need to see more of her. Rachel Ticotin plays as Melina and she does a decent job here. I think someone else could have easily replaced her because she doesn't really seem like she is suppose to be in this film.

The special effects for the film is pretty good. Having been nominated for an academy award in Best Effects and Sound Effects Editing, the film looks good. The settings and structures look like they belong their. There are parts of the film where the effects don't look as good as they could have been, but its still good overall. The blood in the film is truly fantastic. I have seen many bloody films in my life time, but Total Recall has one of the best blood effects I have ever seen. The picture itself is pretty grainy from start to finish. This is a pretty old film and it definitely shows. Detail is on the soft side with not much showing. I mean some close up shots can look pretty good, but the movie as a whole doesn't pack enough punch like some of today's DVDs.

The music of Total Recall is great. The film has a great suspenseful score that makes this film feel big. Its used in alot of the scenes and feels just right for this movie. We also get other soundtracks that are used somewhat in the film that also sound great with the action going on. The film also consists of an average bass usage. For an action film like this, I would have expected more, but I think its the age of the films sound and not the disc itself. Dynamics don't hold up well and its seems more front heavy. Explosions don't really have that extra bump that it really needs. Still for an old film like this, the bass is enough to make the action feel real.

Total Recall is really not for everyone. I have seen this film so many times and consider it a good movie, but even I have to admit its got some flaws. The story is good and keeps you thinking, but it also leaves out answers. The cast is pretty good with many of them giving out decent performance. The visual look of the film is pretty muddy while the special effects look great for a film of its time. The soundtrack is amusing and nice to listen to. I think this film is worth checking out because its still entertaining. This is one of those Schwarzenegger movies you don't get tired of watching no matter how many times you have seen it.

Grade: C+


micky said...

man,i love this movie. good review farzan

CruizD said...

I love Arnold, but I will admit that I've never seen Total Recall, or Blade Runner for that matter ( I know I know, I really have to).

This good review got me wanting to get hold of both films, which I will do in due time!

Fletch said...


Predator probably reigns supreme as my favorite Ahnuld flick, but Recall is not at all far behind. And though I know it's kiiinnnnda cheesy bad, I'd give it at least a B+ for having a great concept and for its kickass execution. Love the cast, too, though Ticotin has always stood out as not fitting in for me as well.

Farzan said...

I agree Fletch that Total Recall isnt far behind Predator, but I still think the film was great. I really liked the beginning alot more than the second half. I also think True Lies isnt far behind too