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Featured Blu-ray Review: Total Recall: Mind-Bending Edition

July 28th, 2012

Total Recall: Mind-Bending Edition - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

With the remake coming out next Friday, now is the perfect time for the original Total Recall to be re-released on Blu-ray. I've previously reviewed the film when it was part of a Box Set. Because I've reviewed it before, I won't go into too much detail with regards to the movie. It's not like my opinion has changed suddenly. I thought it was worth picking up before, and I think it is worth owning now. But, is it worth paying money to see it in high definition?

The Movie

The film is set in 2084, in which time we've colonized Mars, although the colony on Mars has serious issues, including a possible political rebellion. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Douglas Quaid, a construction worker on Earth living a normal life married to a regular woman, Lori. Quaid has a recurring dream in which he is exploring Mars with a strange woman he's never met. It's made him obsessed with moving to Mars, but his wife will have none of that. He sees an ad for a company called Rekall that can implant memories, so he could explore Mars without ever leaving Earth. It's much cheaper than flying there, and safer, usually. Everyone seems to warn him against it, but he decides to go anyway, he even springs for the secret agent package, to add spice to his imaginary vacation. This could be a mistake, as there's a problem during the procedure, and the folks at Rekall discover someone has already messed with his memory. The people at Rekall decide to zap his memory of the company, dump him in a cab, and send him back home. However, when he gets home, his friends try to kill him, as does his wife. He manages to fight them off with skills a construction worker shouldn't have and now he has to figure out who he used to be, why his memory was erased, and why these people are trying to kill him.

... Maybe. There are alternative interpretations to the movie.

Philip K. Dick wrote some of the best science fiction stories of all time. However, Hollywood's track record adapting these stories is... mixed, to be polite. Generally filmmakers take his cerebral stories about the nature of memories and how what we recall makes us who we are and turns them into simple action movies. That is the case here. That said, oh boy is it an awesome action movie. It has everything you want from an action film from car chases, fight scenes, plenty of explosions, and yes, it is smarter than the average action film. Even 20 years after it was made, it still entertains.

The Extras

The extras on the DVD include the audio commentary track and two making of featurettes that were on the previous edition. Blu-ray exclusives start with a 35-minute long interview with the director, Paul Verhoeven. Models and Skeletons is a 23-minute long making of featurette that focuses on the special effects. Finally, there's a 5-minute Restoration Comparison.

As for the film's technical presentation, I'm afraid it is starting to show its age, in some ways that it would be nearly impossible to fix. The film always has an inconsistent visual quality with some scenes sharp and others much softer and this is true with the Blu-ray. The colors are better, but the black levels are rarely strong. Also, some of the special effects look less real in high definition, but there's nothing the studio could do about that. On the other hand, it is better than the previous Blu-ray and there are no moments of digital manipulation to get in the way, so that is a plus. The audio is better with good use of the surround sound speakers, active subwoofer, etc. However, it is not as strong as you would expect a first run release to sound. The rear speakers are mostly used for the score, while the subwoofer doesn't quite have the same punch.

On the plus side, it costs less than $10, which would be a real bargain for shovelware.

The Verdict

Total Recall: Mind-Bending Edition looks better than the previous Blu-ray, has more extras, and costs just $10. It's worth picking, even if you own the previous release.

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Filed under: Video Review, Total Recall