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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Thriller > Remake > Total Recall (2012/Sony 2-Blu-ray Set w/DVD)

Total Recall (2012/Sony 2-Blu-ray Set w/DVD)


Picture: B/C+     Sound: B+/C+     Extras: C+     Film – Extended: C+/Theatrical: C



A more elaborate remake that I was expecting, the highly problematic Director Len Wiseman has delivered Total Recall (2012), a remake of the 1990 Paul Verhoeven/Arnold Schwarzenegger action hit that was violent for its time and his big budget follow-up to Robocop (1987).  Both films were about the future as wastelands, even when the latter did not always seem that way, and were also cutting edge action and science fiction films.


The new version replaces Schwarzenegger with Colin Farrell as a man who thinks he is someone else and does not know it.  Turns out he is some kind of spy whose identity is being blocked on purpose (like a sleeper agent, save he does not know who he is) but that lock is accidentally broken when he visits the Rekall store to have new memories that are not his planted into his brain for fun and amusement.  Instead, the computer finds and breaks the mind lock and the action begins.


Farrell is closer than Schwarzenegger to the character in the original novel, who would be more like Woody Allen than either of the two stars of their respective versions, but no one would see Allen in a serious action film of any age, plus Allen already made this film in his own way back in 1973 when he was on the run in the future in the hilarious Sleeper (finally coming to Blu-ray) so no studio was going to go that far into comedy or absurdity at these prices.  Like Sleeper, Farrell’s pursued antagonist actually does not go to Mars, which was a big sticking point for many fans of the first film and the book.


The great Kate Beckinsale (from Wiseman’s silly Underworld franchise) plays his fake wife (Sharon Stone’s character in the original) and the interesting Jessica Biel is a woman he keeps having nightmares about as if he knows her.  The first half of the film is not bad with some good acting moments, introduction of the world these characters inhabit (a new oversimple plotline has been added about people being oppressed and their need to overthrow their oppressors that even has a reference to Charlton Heston’s Sci-fi classic Omega Man, though this film is less bloody and gory than the 1990 original) but once we get the first car chase, the film turns into a bad chase film with no point and nowhere narratively to go.


The villains (including Bryan Cranston) are generic (versus the great Ronny Cox in the first film, who was formidable and interesting) and in the process, the film wants to imitate every film in the genre since the 1990 film (but not the forgettable Total Recall 2070 fiasco) including large heapings of I, Robot, Minority Report and lesser knowns like Event Horizon plus the usual 2001: A Space Odyssey references and even on to the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker!


Sonly rightly has had a worldwide record year in 2012 with so many great and interesting hits that not every release was going to be a home run and this stalled at the box office because it was just too soon to remake the film and what was made was ultimately just not as good as it could have been.  Mars being eliminated notwithstanding, the cast is still not bad, they were on the correct track in some respects, Farrell can carry most scenes and there are some moments that truly work, but it simply was not enough, so with worldwide money and now its home video release worldwide, the film will at least break even.  However, they picked the wrong director and script with the result that few will “recall” this version as fondly as the 1990 original.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is a combination of a RED Epic 5K HD shoot with real 35mm anamorphic Panavision scope shooting and some Super 35mm shooting in Fuji stocks.  The result is interesting, has its moments, Wiseman does not discolor the image as much as usual and with Fuji discontinuing all of its motion picture films by the end of 2012, one of the last films of its kind.


Director of Photography Paul Cameron, A.S.C., manages to pull it all together with a film that is less colorful and defined than its 1990 predecessor, but it has some softer moments in digital video effect overuse.  Production design that tries to mimic Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) is some of the best work in the film.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD version is softer and passable at best.


The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless mix is the surprise highlight here with very consistent dynamic range, ambiance when all the surrounds are not kicking in, good .1 LFE bass and some good mixing moments, but other times, the mix is too typical of the genre for its own good.  Still, it is one of the best-sounding films of the year and the score by Harry Gregson-Williams has some good moments, though no match for the score the late, great Jerry Goldsmith delivered for the 1990 film.  The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD is decent and shows some of the surround’s strengths, but is no match for the TrueHD on the Blu-ray.


Extras include that bonus DVD, Ultraviolet Copy, the longer version of the film and a bunch of extras including interactive Insight section where you watch the film with Director Wiseman, three featurettes (Gag Reel, Science Fiction vs. Science Fact, Designing The Fall) and Blu-ray exclusive feature length audio commentary track by Wiseman, God Of War: Ascension PlayStation 3 Game Demo and two more featurettes: Total Action and Step Into Recall.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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