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Many of Phillip K. Dick's stories have been adapted into films and a
number of them been turned into excellent films. One of them is the
1990 version of Total Recall, a gruesome violent, entertaining sci-fi
action flick with plenty of substance.
In the future Dennis Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is construction worker on Earth, longing for more and having recurring dreams of being on Mars with a brunette woman. When he watches an advert for Rekall, a company that can implant memories into people. But the worst happens when during the Rekall process Quaid freaks out and it is discovered his memory has been wiped. Even worst many people are out to kill Quaid, including his wife, Lori (Sharon Stone), his co-worker (Robert Costanzo) and a man called Ritchter (Michael Ironside). Quaid has to go to Mars to discover the truth about his identity as Mars is in the middle of a violence Civil War.
Total Recall was directed by Paul Verhoeven and he is a man with a reputation for making action films with substance. That is certainly the cast with Total Recall and it worked on a number of levels: it is a mystery about who Quaid really is and as a futuristic spy flick, a bleak sci-fi film which acts as a criticism of big corporations and exploiting native people or the underclass and the health effects on them to simply being a gore-fest. Verhoeven is great the world building, showing the political situation of Mars.
Total Recall is brutally violent and it is a shame that this type of film is no longer made. There are great action sequences that are bloody, with people getting shot to pieces and has excellent gun battles and fight scenes. There is a great use of practical effects during the film whilst also using some early CGI which surprisingly holds up today.
Schwarzenegger is not the best actor but he has screen presence and he can deliver a one-line. When the material is there to back Schwarzenegger up there is no stopping him. Schwarzenegger was also supported by a fine cast, including Ronny Cox and Ironside in villainous roles, Stone in one of her best roles and Rachel Ticotin was very good as both the love interest and a woman of action.
Jerry Goldsmith supplied an iconic score for the film with a memorial theme.
Total Recall is a classic sci-fi that has aged very well. It is successful both on an action level and on a more thematic and intelligent level. It is to me the best Arnie film outside the Terminator series.
Total recall came out in 1990 and was another hit for it's leading man Arnold Schwarzenegger. Again Schwarzenegger choose to enter the world of science fiction coupled with action as he had previous success with The Terminator, The Running Man, and Predator. Arnold sort out the services of the impressive Dutch Director Paul Verhoeven whom had success with 1987's Robocop. Verhoeven was not a science fiction director, however his greatest films have all been set in the science fiction genre.The great thing about Verhoeven as a director is he always asks questions of his audience, and makes them think about the message he is putting across in all his films. His films do use excessive graphic content and nudity, so he is not for everyone. It is almost like comic book violence at times. The 80s action films audience expected graphic violence, as we entered the 90s action films would steadily use less graphic violence Total Recall is set in the future and is about the character Douglas Quiad (Schwarzenegger) or is it? Quaid is a construction worker who keeps dreaming of mars. He can not convince his wife, played by the very sexy Sharon Stone to go on holiday to mars. So Quiad takes matters into his own hands and goes for a implanted memory of a holiday to mars. As Quiad awakes he thinks that people are coming to kill him, but is he just living his implanted memory or not? Does he really have a previous life and his identity as Douglas Quaid is just a set up. As like most of the science fiction films around at this time for example Terminator 2, it is filled with original ideas and makes it a intelligent plot line and can be thought of as deeply as the viewer feels necessary or just enjoyed as a action film. Action films these days seem to have lost the plot when it comes to over use of cgi at the expense of a good story. Total Recall is good thinking man's science fiction film and is highly recommended, kudos to the film makers and Arnold Schwarzenegger for making this film possible as a large budgeted film with star backing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
All in all, this is really one of the strangest films out there, in my
opinion. On one hand, it is obviously a Schwarzenegger star vehicle,
directed by the characteristically over-the-top Paul Verhoeven, a
ludicrous gore-fest featuring no shortage of cheap thrills. On the
other hand, it is a seriously conceptual science fiction trip, and
however much it may depart from the Phillip K. Dick source material on
which it is based, it still is a genuinely good, thoughtful story at
It opens with a beautiful, mysterious scene on Mars, but soon finds itself back on Earth, with Arnold and his crazy reptilian facial expressions, going 21st-century schizoid man on any number of enemies that he finds coming out of the woodwork to get him. Along the way, there is a lot of (obviously fake) blood, a lot of people dying dramatically, a lot of product placement, and plenty of shameless exploitation of all sorts of things.
But somehow, it never becomes disposable. From the word go, Schwarzenegger's title character is one worth caring about, and as the overall plot gradually reveals itself, one can easily become quite engrossed in it. This is not a film without real emotion. There is plenty of drama, a truly big, epic climax and a surprisingly artistic final frame.
There are two specific elements in TOTAL RECALL that I think bear mentioning. First, the excellent visual depictions of the planet Mars. I am referring to the *exteriors* where, whatever the filmmaking techniques used, a very evocative picture is painted of another world, both romantic and bleak at the same time.
The second thing is the performance of Rachel Ticotin. Her depiction of the character Melina makes this film far better and more watchable that it would have been otherwise. I cannot overstate that. I found myself looking her up to see what else she had acted in. In a film full of performances that are effective but most of them laughable nonetheless, Ticotin is really, seriously believable. For me, she is the heart. (Not Sharon Stone.)
I do not know how much I actually like this film. But it is an undeniably entertaining watch, with some interesting ideas about the future and no lack of visual craziness. It is far more violent than I had anticipated, so definitely not for everyone. Also, it is a bit dated when viewed in the present (2013), but not nearly so much as many other films from its era. I give it 6.5 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Doug Quaid is having vivid dreams about Mars. He goes to Rekall, a
company that sells fake memory implants, but has a psychotic reaction
to the treatment. Suddenly, he is being attacked and assisted on all
sides by secret-agents, his wife turns out to be an imposter and he
seems to hold the key to some great secret buried in an ancient Martian
mine. Is he really a spy, or is he suffering from a massive paranoid
fantasy delusion ?
Reportedly the most expensive film ever made at the time, Total Recall is a mind-bending, bone-crunching action thriller set in some vague future, with a great script by Dan O'Bannon and producer Ronald Shusett. In some ways it's a formulaic picture, with the predictable car-chases, fights and impossible escapes every ten minutes, but in others it's a wildly disorienting alternate reality, as Doug is forced to question his own existence. In one of the best scenes, the villains attempt (and almost succeed) to convince Doug he's living in an elaborate hallucination, before resorting to more traditional methods. Even the familiar elements are terrific, due to the futuristic setting (infuriating computerised minicabs, a tricky hologram, a fabulous Martian colony base) and Rob Bottin's gleefully twisted comic-book mutations, which include a fake head within another fake head and a pivotal character who lives in the stomach of another. Big Arnie does his usual likable bluster in the lead, but the best performances are the husband and wife of Stone as a sharp-suited villainess and Ironside as an implacable but uninformed henchman, with Cox managing to be even more vicious than he was in Verhoeven's preceding Robocop. Also noteworthy are Eric Brevig's marvellous visual effects, with some pioneering digital work (the nail-painter, the swooping shots through the huge secret generator), and a top-notch rousing score by Jerry Goldsmith that blasts everything along with booming brass and cracking percussion. Following the success of The Terminator, Schwarzenegger made six big-budget science-fiction films, all of which are good but none of which are quite as good, but this one is topper excessive entertainment and probably the best of the runners-up. Based on the short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, by the highly influential science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick.
This motion picture was surely, in my opinion, inspired by short story
"Total recall" by Phillip K. Dick. I have read it and I can tell that
the movie has only caught up the general idea from there. There is the
retold short story:
Douglas Quaid is a simple worker (his wife is his wife, not an undercover agent, as in movie) who is obsessed about going on Mars (because this some time after his wife leaves him for good). Knowing he is a poor man and trying to do something about it, he goes to "Total Recall" , a company for artificial voyages. There he talks with Mc.... (as in movie, appears that names have been taken literally); before he talks to receptionist (we are told she is blonde => white , not black , as in movie). Things goes wrong; he is discovered, under narcosis, as past agent of Interplan (as he wished to be in the dream voyage to be implanted in his memory) and the guys at Total Recall put him in a taxi. He wakes in cab , finds half of money owed for imaginary voyage in his pocket and soon begin to remember what happened at Total Recall; then he asks and get all the money he has payed (of course is angry and frustrated). On way home he starts to remember that he was a real agent; at home 2 armed officers (one of them has a ear device that let him hear Quaid's thoughts; the Interplan had implanted a living creature in Quaid's brain who can transmit thoughts). Douglas Quaid soon increasingly remembers all that happened on Mars and his past training and abilities, officer want to kill him, does not succeed (Quaid already knew how to fight) and Quaid escapes outside. After some conversation in his mind with someone from Interplan (through that living device in his brain), he (catching at his last chance of survival) decides to go to an Interplan facility and let their specialists study him to see if a false memory could be implanted over his yearning wish to go to Mars (if none could be found, he agrees that must be killed); a fantasy dating from his child times is found and they choose that. He is taken to Total Recall to proceed (receptionist is described as having her naked big bosoms dyed in orange) and here , examining his memory , they found that the fantasy (in childhood he saw an alien spaceship landing in front of him, the only who could see them; that ship had beings as big as mice, but bound to conquer Earth; that ship was only first, more thousand will follow; after a discussion with alien beings, they were touched and decided not to invade Earth as long as he lives) was real and Quaid, as he says proudly, is the most important human being on Earth. The short story ends with the advice to the Interplan not to kill him; otherwise the alien invasion would begin, bringing destruction to all Earth civilization.
From director Paul Verhoeven comes this wildly over-the-top futuristic thriller about a construction worker (Schwarzenegger) who discovers that his entire life has been artificially 'implanted.' Once he realizes who he is, he sets out on a dangerous mission to Mars to try and reclaim his identity while eluding the deadly spies who are in hot pursuit. Dynamite sci-fi action movie has remarkable, mind-blowing special effects, endless and intriguing plot twists, violent, pumped-up action scenes, and more than enough innovative ideas. As a thrill ride it's simply excellent, and arguably one of Arnold's most entertaining films. ***½
This could have been yet another great Philip K. Dick story turned into a movie (Blade Runner). However at the critical moment this movie fails. After doing a good job setting up Quaid's motivation to go to Mars and getting the characters together; the movie does a great job of throwing in a killer plot twist. However it is as this plot twist is being resolved that the movie loses it creditability. Once the Alien air-making machine is put into action realism would dictate that every structure on the planet would be leveled. Just imagine the effect of taking a structure built to handle the near vacuum of the Martian atmosphere and suddenly hitting it with 15 lbs per square inch of weight. The Alien machine, to work properly in the movie would take several weeks to create a Martian atmosphere. And that means that Quaid dies after being sucked out of the airshaft. Even if we look at that scene, think of the incredible damage that would have been done to Quaid's body. He would never be the same. What saddens me is these are small plot points that could have been dealt with properly had the director and screenwriter taken some time to do so. Had they done so, this would be an undeniable instant Sci-Fi classic, instead of a good movie with a hoaky ending.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie has awesome one-liners, memorable scenes, characters you
hate or cheer for, wonderful sets and lots of creatively thought out
Some points i liked: At the beginning of the movie, the fooling around between Quaid and his fake wife is kind of how it goes in real life. This and other presentations of social interaction is implemented well in Total Recall.
They even had the balls to put things in that movie that require more than meets the eye, like the presentation of the psychics: They certainly don't look like that in real life, but some ways of how they do things are presented. Just an example...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You've gotta admire the scriptwriters, they tailored the script to
Arnold's greatest strength, that of destroying everything in his path.
Look closely. Arnold never *creates* anything. The personality implant? Cohaagen had it done. The mask, the money, the guy with the suitcase? Cohaagen again. The resistance? Kuato organized it. The oxygen reactor? Aliens built it.
The script sets up these plot elements like so many dominoes in a row, so that Arnie can come along and knock them down.
Don't like the new implanted personality? Kill the techs at Rekall. Got a smart-aleck robo-cabbie? Rip him off his pedestal and blow up the cab. Benny trying to grind you to a pulp? Perforate the bastard with a drill. Richter being a pain in the ass? Guillotine his arms on an elevator.
No creativity is required of Arnie. Just death and destruction -- what Arnold does best. A brilliant script.
By the time the 90's rolled around, action films just didn't get any
better than Arnold Schwarzenegger. And when it came to sci-fi and
action directors, Paul Verhoeven was certainly at the top of his game.
Naturally, the two came together for "Total Recall," a unique
sci-fi/action-hero story that finds everybody's favorite Austrian on
the red planet, battling mutants, struggling with his identity and
crusading on behalf of those in need of some clean, breathable and
most importantly free air.
Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick (whose work has made it to the big screen also in the form of "Minority Report" and "Blade Runner," to name a few), "Total Recall" is a landmark both for its stunning visual effects as well as its non-stop pace and over-the-top action. Arnie is in top form as the everyday man who exchanges routine and security for confusion and paranoia when a vacation company toys with his mind. Rekall, the company in question, will implant a memory for a price that will make you think you had an incredible vacation (or in this case, an action-packed adventure that will satisfy all your wildest cravings) when it was all just a pricey dream. Unfortunately, things go very wrong very quickly for our hero. His wife (Sharon Stone) turns against him, as it turns out she is a secret agent who has been spying on him throughout their marriage. In turn, he finds himself being chased by a gang of cronies -- led by Michael Ironside -- to what appears to be his home planet, where he hooks up with an ex-lover (Rachel Ticotin) and makes acquaintances with a three-breasted prostitute, a cab-driver with bad teeth and a really grotesque and unappealing mutant (who can also be seen in the "Aspen" episode of "South Park"). Is it real, is it a dream? What makes this film truly genius and leaves room for many a repeat viewing is that, in the end, it's totally up to the viewer.
Verhoeven throws everything AND the kitchen sink at his film. "Total Recall" is as chock-full of mind-games as it is action, and is possibly the man's finest film to date. Even today, 19 years (!) later, it still holds up, both in its story and in its visuals. Those seeking some escapism but with a film that carries as much brain as it does brawn, can do no wrong with "Total Recall." One of the finest from one of the greatest action heroes of our time and one of the most under-rated directors in his time. Spawned from the film was a short-lived TV series as well as a classic musical parody, titled "Total Recallin'" set to the tune of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" -- which can be found on any video-viewing website.
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