Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The original TOTAL RECALL gets a spiffy new Blu ray release today

In a perfect piece of cross-promotion, Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 sci-fi thriller TOTAL RECALL is getting a new remastered Blu ray release the same week that the film’s remake opens in theaters (Len Wiseman's version opens Friday, August 3rd).

Although the high-definition transfer contained on what’s dubbed the “Mind-Bending Edition” often draws attention to the dated effects, the original still holds up.

Even if you’re not an Arnold Schwarzenegger fan, it’s fun to follow him through the twists and turns of the incredibly intriguing premise which was loosely based on the 1966 Philip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.”

Schwarzenegger plays a construction worker in the year 2084 named Doug Quaid (in the short story the character’s name was Quail, but at the time the Vice President was the heavily ridiculed Dan Quayle so you can see why they changed it) who gets more than he bargained for when he decides to get memories of a trip to Mars implanted by a company named Rekall.

Our hero opts for the “Secret Agent” package in which he gets to “get the girl, kill the bad guys and save the entire planet,” but he has a violent reaction to the procedure because his mind has been tampered with before because he actually is a secret agent with a Martian past.

Or maybe that’s the phony adventure memory Rekall implanted – the movie keeps you guessing, even after it’s over about whether it’s “all in the mind, you know” as George Harrison said in YELLOW SUBMARINE.

So Schwarzenegger’s marriage to Sharon Stone (later to star in Verhoeven’s BASIC INSTINCT) is a sham, and he’s on the run from goons headed by Michael Ironside under the rule of evil Mars Governor Ronny Cox (also a villain in Verhoeven’s ROBOCOP).

TOTAL RECALL is a successful blend of action and humor with a lot of cartoon violence (including some Tim Burton-esque eye-popping), and it just might have the most shots of people smashing through glass in a movie ever. Oh, and it also has a 3-breasted prostitute (thanks high-definition transfer!) who shows up in a sleazy Martian bar full of aliens that makes the Cantina scene from STAR WARS look pretty quaint.

There are only a couple of new special features on this Blu ray - an interview with Verhoeven, and a restoration comparison featurette. The commentary with Schwarzenegger and Verhoeven was recorded over a decade ago for a DVD release but I'm glad it reappears here because it’s really funny (mostly unintentionally) how they both go on about what’s reality and what isn’t in the film. Also Schwarzenegger notes all the sexual content in a way that I bet he wouldn’t if they recorded it today.

I hear the new version isn't a total remake because it doesn’t have a trip to Mars, but there is a 3-breasted Prostitute! Also Colin Farrell’s lead character is still named Quaid so there's that.

We shall soon see if they do as well with the material as Verhoeven and co. did back in the day.

If not, we’ll at least have this spiffy Blu ray of the original.

More later...

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