Review: Total Recall - Ultimate Rekall Edition / Cert: 18 / Director: Paul Verhoeven / Screenplay: Ronald Shusett / Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, Michael Ironside / Release Date: Out Now
The remake of Total Recall starring Colin Farrell is one of the most eagerly awaited films of the summer (if you discount Batman’s, just released, much hyped outing). However after re-watching the Arnold Schwarzenegger original you could be forgiven for questioning the necessity for the filmmakers to subject themselves or the public to such an undertaking. The 1990 blockbuster was, if not classic, at least a full-blooded escapade, unlikely to be bettered - if it’s not broken, why fix it?
2084 and a third world war has created a hostile new world, ruled by opposing factions in a constant state of civil unrest. Planets as far afield as Mars have been colonised, though even this is now inhabited by waring humans. On Earth Douglas Quaid (Schwarzenegger), a construction worker happily married to the beautiful Lori (Stone), is haunted by dreams where he finds himself exploring Mars alongside a mysterious woman (Ticotin).
Against his wife’s advice Quaid approaches Rekall, a company that offers you the experience and memories of a holiday without your having to leave the safety and comfort of their high-tech headquarters. It’s only after things go drastically wrong during Quaid’s ‘trip of a lifetime’ to Mars, that he realises everything may not be as innocent as it first appeared, and his recurring dream has more to do with his past than he initially thought. Unfortunately someone else knows the truth behind Quaid’s fantasies - someone determined to stop him at any cost.
Let’s be honest. Despite the original Total Recall continually topping the lists of all-time sci-fi greats, the actual film is by no-means a classic example of filmmaking in this or any other genre. It’s a film very much of its time - and looks it, with cheesy costumes and equally cheesy dialogue. But that’s hardly the reason behind this loud, brash, boys-own adventure, which amounts to not much more than a two hour excuse for grown men to run round blowing each-other up. Couple this with it being the film which made people sit up and take notice of Sharon Stone, that it’s directed by ‘Mr actioneer’ himself Paul Verhoeven and that the award winning special effects are admittedly (literally at one point) eye popping, and you do have to ask what director Len Wiseman is really hoping he can bring to the table with another take.
It remains to be seen whether the new version is worth it or whether, like Schwarzenegger’s film career, Total Recall is best left as a fond and faintly amusing memory.
Extras: Often re-released classics are bogged-down with an overdose of extras which can detract from the enjoyment of the main feature. This is not the case with Total Recall, as there are just the right amount to compliment the film without overshadowing it. Released on Triple Play (including a limited edition steelbook), both the DVD and Blu-ray include a look at the film's special effects, the original trailer and an audio commentary with Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger. In addition the Blu-ray has a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the film, a photo gallery of stills and a restoration comparison (an interesting bonus now popular with many re-released classics).