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Total Recall: Special Edition DVD (18)



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 Basic Instinct.

 

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