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4.1 out of 5 stars
Total Recall (1990)
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661 of 694 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2001
Format: DVD
I have to take umbrage at the person who made rude comments about how all the martians mutants with their foam latex appliances looked fake and lowered the quality of the film. I am part of the team that made all those crummy appliances. You can find my name in the credits under Rob Bottin. Actually I agree with you and I also think the scene where everyone decompresses and their eyes pop out on stalks then pop back in again when air pressure returns was totally preposterous. Total Recall was one of the last big films where effects were still done with rubber and mechanical animatronics pulled with cables. Many people thought the fat lady head slice gag was done with computers but it was a fiberglass head enlarged many times by soaking a silicone casting of the head in kerosene. The head was sliced with a special saw and a special array of slide bearings rigged with cables were pulled to open the slices. Makeup artists spent hours between shots filling up the gaps in the slices with wax so you could not detect them until the head was pulled apart. We were very proud of that effect and got applause from the crew when they saw it for the first time. Other effects did not go so well. Johnny Cab (Bob Picardo) was supposed to be very animated. His mouth was designed to open wide and form shapes but the servos would not work properly so in the film you see him mostly just bounce his jaw up and down with some minor lip movement. The guy in charge of repairing Johnny Cab stayed up four sleepless days and when it still didn't work was yelled at and mercilessly berated by the FX supervisor and later that day almost died of a bleeding stomach. On the good side Bennie the mutant cab driver has a mutant arm that is a beautiful thing to watch unfold and easily missed if you are not paying attention. You probably won't hear these uglier stories on the supplemental disc but if you are a fan of Total Recall and like to hear interesting background stories, this is certainly the version of the disc you should buy. Paul Verhoven with his deep German accent and extreme personality combined with Arnolds thick Austrian accent and ego should make for one of the most incomprehensible commentaries in the history of DVDs. Just kidding. Both are dynamic guys and present the material in an interesting fashion.
Total Recall is about a miner named Quaid (Arnold Schwartzennegger at the very peak of his career) who seemingly has a beautiful wife (Sharon Stone)and a nice home. He has a fascination with Mars that disturbs his wife to distraction. One day he decides to take a simulated vacation from Rekall where memories are implanted in your brain to make you feel you have been on an extended vacation. What Rekall does not know is Quaid is not who he appears to be or who he thinks he is. Something goes wrong when Rekall unknowingly plants Quaid's own real memories of being a secret agent on Mars into his brain. Quaids brain is temporarily fried and he has to quickly rediscover his true identity before a team of counteragents kill him for what he knows.
Total Recall was originaly intended to keep the audience guessing about what was real and what was only imagined. However this was dropped with the exception of one memorable scene. From what I could observe on the set I think Paul Verhoven realized the effects had taken over the movie and there was no point in making this a psychological action thriller. So he resigned himself to play it as a straight up Arnold vehicle packed with slam bang effects and some wicked Verhoven humor. This was too bad because I think many people feel it could have been a much more of a movie than what it was. Instead this is wild mindless action, violence taken to excess and effects for pure escapism purposes . If this is your cup of tea, than Total Recall may be the thrill ride you are looking for.
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96 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2004
Format: DVD
"Total Recall" is, quite simply, one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's best action flicks and quite obviously, one of the ones that helped build his super star status at the time of its release. When this outstanding Sci-Fi action/thriller was released, it was right in the middle of Arnold Schwarzenegger's run of films where he could seemingly do no wrong. After watching the "Imagining Total Recall" documentary, it's even more surprising to find out that the original director wasn't Paul Verhoeven and the original Douglas Quaid wasn't to be Arny but Patrick Swayze; now that would've been an almost entirely different movie. Despite the exceptional script, I doubt Patrick Swayze would've garnered the attention that Arnold did for this memorable flick.
One of the most interesting aspects behind the script of this film is the overall theme behind it, was it "real" or was it Douglas Quaid's Total Rekall experience? Another highly interesting aspect of this film is its supposed sequel which may have been scrapped for Arnold Schwarzenegger's bid for and election as the Governor of Kalifornia! If you pull up the Cast and Crew Information under the Special Features section and click on Arnold's screen, you'll see a listing for Total Recall 2 (2002), something that obviously hasn't happened but who knows what will happen in the future!
Credit goes to Arnold for his performance in this film, which was an exceptional display in that his acting skills were only getting better and better; granted, he's not the best actor in the industry, but for his type of movies, he was at the top when this film was released. Sharon Stone puts on a wonderful performance in this film and this film can most certainly be directly attributed to being the one that led to her super stardom and being cast for some of her bigger roles. Ronny Cox also does another superior job of being the villain in this movie, a role he has always done well in. For Star Trek Voyager fans, it's interesting to note that Robert Picardo does the voiceover for the Johnny Cab.
"Total Recall" is just another in a long list of outstanding and somewhat gory action flicks for director Paul Verhoeven. In this genre, he can most certainly be counted among the best directors to ever take up the mantle. Phillip K. Dick, the author of the short story "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale," the story that "Total Recall" is based upon, also wrote the story that "Blade Runner" was based upon and many more; just showing what a talent this writer has been.
The Premise:
Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) wakes up to find himself lying next to Lori (Sharon Stone), who he believes to have been his loving wife for the last eight years. Quaid expresses that he wishes to go to Mars but Lori doesn't want anything to do with it. As Quaid is coming home from work, he sees an advertisement for Total Rekall where he can take a virtual vacation and decides to try it. Not long after his virtual vacation begins, this action flick takes off on a breathtaking wild ride that doesn't slow down until the credits start rolling...
I highly recommend this film to any and all who're interested in seeing one of the best Sci-Fi action movies ever made. One note of caution though, this film is not for the young, faint of heart or weak of stomach as is the norm with a Paul Verhoeven film. To achieve the film he's looking for, he doesn't spare the gore at all! {ssintrepid}
Special Features:
-Audio Commentary with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Director Paul Verhoeven
-"Imagining Total Recall" Documentary
-Rekall's Virtual Vacations
-"Visions of Mars" Featurette (This is especially interesting considering we have a rover on Mars right now)
-Visual Storyboard Comparisons
-Conceptual Art
-Photo Gallery
-Production Notes
-Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots
-Cast and Crew Information
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135 of 154 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2007
Format: Blu-ray
I Love Total Recall as a movie hence the reason I've bought it for a 3rd time, after VHS and DVD. I must say I was very disappointed with this transfer, why when films can be cleaned up prior to transfer do they make us buy such a crap transfer!? I mean I bought the Rambo1 Blu Ray from Lionsgate/ Studio Canal which is now 25 years and that is a superb transfer, even the French HD of Basic Instinct is a Cracking transfer by Studio Canal, In Comparison Total Recall is a let down, and to be honest when we fork out our hard earned cash for movies we love on HD formats we expect a marked improvement, why should we make excuses that this film is old, what 1990 is old! When film companys that do spend the money get results, have you seen the Bond Remasters on DVD, some of these are over 40 years old and look better then ever (cant wait for the blu rays of them!) Overall Buy this if you must have it, but be prepared for a let down visually!
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2009
Format: Blu-ray
I got a BD player a year after they came out while the format war was still going on and I read reviews of the discs. They always said that this one was not too great but acceptable. Some how, some people rate The Terminator (first 2) discs as poor when they are not. Total Recall is by far THE worst BD disc ever!

This one gets the same type of review as Robocop from the reviewers. It is no wonder why these discs are $10 or less! This is a very poor representation of Blu-Ray or even HD. I am good at spotting resolutions with my eye and I can tell that this is not an HD master. It has to be a 480I give or take a few lines!

This is nothing more than an upconverted picture, but upconverted DVD's look much better in most cases. From the moment the credits roll, there is severe crushing, noise and low resolution. The picture quality is so bad that it looks like analog cable with a damaged cord - THAT bad! The noise (it can't be mere film grain alone) is so horrible that the film grain has noise that moves and changes colors!

The colors were bland and there was NOTHING HD about the picture in any way. There was no 3D effect when looking at the picture. No facial details. No stitching in the clothing - nothing. The sound was weak as well since it was in DTS-HD, not Master Audio. Hey, it was one of the early BD titles.

Instead of steady re-releasing Terminators, they need to remaster this! I avoided it out of fear of the reviews, but the reviewers were too soft on this one. Do not get it if you are looking for HD picture.

On another note, it was weird (I know) to see so many tube TV's 100 years into the future. Even 2001: A Space Odessy predicted flat screens.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 1999
Format: DVD
I'm not a big video geek, and before when I saw people complaining about a horrible dvd transfer, I chalked it up to little details I couldn't see. *This* I could see. I liked _Total Recall_ the first time I saw it, and it is still a good movie. However the film quality on this DVD is really grainy and the color was off -- like they mastered it from a five year old video that had seen wind and weather. Just get the video.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2004
Format: DVD
Total Recall is not only Arnold Schwarzenegger's best film; it is also one of the most complex cinematic statements ever made about reality, technology and totalitarianism.
The script is cracklingly smart, with multiple setups and payoffs that require repeated viewing to fully comprehend. And the world of Total Recall is filled with little details that are now becoming closer and closer to reality: The "nature" wallpaper in Doug Quaid (Schwarzenegger)'s apartment; the "instant fingernail polish"; the "virtual space trip" that forms the core of the film's conceit; and the equation of government and corporation.
As Doug Quaid, Schwarzenegger brings his trademark humour and one-liners. They fit the character well, making his quest for identity all that much more entertaining to watch; Sharon Stone has her breakthrough role as his insidious wife Lori; Rachel Ticotin is suitably heroic as sidekick Melina; and Ronny Cox offers up yet another terrific turn as villain Cohaagen, a much more complex and human character than his character in RoboCop, Dick Jones. Cox has a way of chewing up megalomaniacal lines yet also bringing moments of realness and vulnerability to his character, and as a result the film acquires a much richer psychological layer.
All in all, this film's greatest power lies in its sociological concepts. "Blue sky on Mars"; "more freedom, more air"; "the walls of reality come crashing down"; "your whole life is just a dream"; "if I'm not me, who the hell am I?" Each little detail is worth days of pondering over if you're the kind of viewer who likes to analyze text, and if you're not, you can always revel in Verhoeven's effortless virtuosic filmmaking, the extremely brisk narrative, and the over-the-top action set pieces, where Verhoeven once again sets new standards for both bloodlust and kinetic energy.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2009
Format: Blu-ray
Total Recall had its controversy in its heyday. Known for its violent scenes and fast paced action sequences, it was a favorite movie of mine when it first entered the theater. It was an interesting blend of science fiction, action, and some suspense mixed in together. One left the movie with many questions that are still being pondered to this day. That said, the Blu Ray version is a bit of let down.

The film quality of the Blu Ray version is sub par at best, with artifacts and some noise. My Blu Ray player up scales dvd movies with better picture quality than this transfer. I ended up having to change my picture settings to get a less noisy picture. This version was a real downer since high definition should look better than high quality dvd transfers. While the $10 price tag (or around this price range) is attractive, if one has a previous DVD version then one should really wait for a better edition on Blu Ray.

On a side note:
This Blu Ray version of Total Recall really shows the need for accurate reviews of Blu Ray movies (instead of dvd versions). Not all Blu Rays have good picture and sound quality and some are outright poor in these two areas. I would advise anyone to check out reviews, especially those that detail the picture quality, of prospective Blu Ray movie purchases.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Fantastic movie, but this is the poorest-quality Blu-Ray image quality that I have yet seen.

I traded in my Special Edition DVD of this movie for the Blu-Ray version with the expectation that the new version would have high-definition video and at least a few of the Special Edition's extras. Not so.

The video is very grainy and spotty, almost like watching a videotape recorded in a theater with the camera pointed at the screen.

The disk includes a single featurette and none of the commentaries or other extras that were included in the Special Edition.

If you possibly can, don't buy -- wait for a fully remastered and restored Blu-Ray which includes the commentaries.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2001
Format: DVD
Total Recall is one of those movies I can watch over and over and never get sick of. It is what every true Arnold fan wants in an Arnold flick. And aside from being one of Arnold's best films it is a very great sci-fi flick period.

Arnold plays everyman Douglas Quaid, a guy living an average life on the near future earth who is obsessed with the idea of going to Mars(which is colonized). He decides to go to a futuristic company called Recall, which sells it's customers memories of vacations they did not really take. Quaid decides to do it and while the salesman is making his pitch he poses the question, "what is the same about every vaction you have ever taken?" The answer: You. So Quaid buys the secret agent package and that is when the action begins. Suddenly everyone is out to get Quaid and he can't figure it out, all he knows is he has to get his "a** to Mars." He does and the film really takes off with mutants, rebels, women, corruption, double crossing, heavy carnage, planet saving, and Arnold, smack in the middle of all of it.
The story in summary can actually be found within the movie, which is a very unusual plot device, but it works in this film. The guy at Recall says by the time this is over you will kill the bad guys, get the girl, and save the planet. So is Total Recall a dream or a reality. This question is one of the things that makes it such an engaging movie because you don't know. Really though the best part of this film is Arnold. He is in tip top form in this film and it is certainly one of his best. The character allows him all the elements to shine, odds against him, guys always trying to fight him, lots of guns, and terrific one-liners. Paul Verhoeven(Robocop, Basic Instict) has crafted a awesome film. The set direction is great and it makes the fantastic action that much better. Sure Verhoeven may get a little carried away with violent nature of his action, but would anyone really want this film any other way? Not me.
Total Recall is a blast. On an additional note I just picked up the DVD Collector's Edition and it is a must have for fans. The commentary with Verhoeven and Arnold is hilarious and the making of's are very well done. This is one of those films that will become a classic over time because that is what it is, CLASSIC.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Paul Verhoeven's stylish non-stop action TOTAL RECALL is one of Arnold's better movies. Featuring the now classic "consider this a divorce" scene, TOTAL RECALL bristles with electrical tension and brutally explicit action and violence. Based on a short story by Philip Dick, the movie focuses on Arnie, whose memories have been wiped away and when he discovers that, it leads him to Mars and confrontations with nasty guys that want him dead. Considering that this is a 1990 film, the special effects, set design, costuming, etc. are very impressive, as is the late Jerry Goldsmith's atmospheric score.

Arnie is Arnie, who has never made us think of him as a serious actor, but this is his kind of movie, and he is surrounded with some competent supporting performers: Rachel Ticotin as Melina, his love from his previous life, who exudes a smoldering sensuality; the then lesser known Sharon Stone, who plays Arnie's "wife" with a mixture of flirtatious sexuality and out and out viciousness; the irrepressible Michael Ironside, the consummate villain chewing up the scenery; and Ronny Cox as the nasty Coalhagen, who is masterminding all the trouble on Mars to meet his own excessive needs.

This is one of those movies you can enjoy more than once, to savor the lush topography of Mars and Sharon Stone getting her just rewards.
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