Review: Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary with Arnold Schwarzenegger
and Paul Verhoeven. Audio commentary by cinematogarpher Jost Vacano.
'Imagining Total Recall' documentary. Rekall's Virtual Vacations.
'Visions of Mars' featurette. 'The World of Science Fiction Literature'
documentary. Visual storyboard comparisons. Conceptual art. Photo
gallery. Production notes. Theatrical trailers and TV spots. Cast
and crew information.
IT'S a curious thing, but many of Arnold Schwarzenegger's best
films have come within the sci-fi genre.
Take The Terminator, for instance, which spawned three successful,
highly-acclaimed movies and helped turn the man formerly dubbed
'the Austrian oak' into something resembling an icon.
To a lesser degree, Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall presented Arnie
with another memorable role.
Set in a futuristic world, Schwarzenegger played construction
worker, Doug Quaid, who spends most of his spare time obsessing
about taking a vacation to the planet Mars.
His wife (Sharon Stone) objects, so Doug secretly opts to have
an artificial memory of a Martian holiday implanted into his mind.
But during the implantation procedure, Quaid suffers a strange
reaction, which suggests he has already been to Mars - and that
his memory of that journey has been wiped out.
Before he can make it back home, Quaid finds himself being chased
by mysterious agents, while his wife wants to kill him and even
his co-workers can't be trusted.
It therefore becomes a race against
time for Quaid to experience total recall, and finally figure
out just why everyone is trying to stop him from reaching Mars.
Total Recall was released in 1990 at the height of Schwarzenegger's
box office popularity and confirmed his reputation as the most
bankable star on the planet at that time.
It's a suitably head-spinning sci-fi action adventure that boasts
plenty of action, the trademark Arnie one-liners, and something
a little bit more challenging than his Commando/Raw Deal efforts.
Verhoeven also packed proceedings with his trademark excesses,
both sexual and violent, with several of the fight scenes and
special effects being remarkably violent for their day, and plenty
of kitsch sex references thrown in for good measure, including
a prostitute with three breasts.
The fact that Arnie turns out to be a special agent himself is
one of the fun plot twists that gets revealed midway through,
thereby prompting the next question - was he good or bad before
he adopted a new persona?
But given that the film is based on a novel by Philip K Dick
(We Can Remember It For You Wholesale), it is a more intelligent
action film than most, encompassing some trademark themes of identity,
choice and self-determination (much like Blade Runner).
What's more, several of the special effects still impress, even
though the film is over 10-years-old, while Verhoeven's vision
of the future remains remarkably credible.
The release of this special edition DVD should provide both Arnie
and sci-fi fans with an extras overload, as they rediscover one
of the Nineties best blockbusters.
It arrived, of course, when Verhoeven was still hot off the back
of Robocop and introduced audiences to a certain Sharon Stone
- whose next film reunited her with the Dutch director for a certain