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Blu-ray Reviews

Total Recall: Mind-Bending Edition Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 34 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted July 23 2012 - 09:41 AM

Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall manages to cram murder, mayhem, mystery, and romance into a labyrinthine framework that’s often quite fascinating to plumb the depths of upon repeated viewings. With Verhoeven at the helm, it’s über-violent as was quite the custom of movies made during this period, but if one can get past the tons of bodies (quite a few innocent bystanders included) which litter the frame at any given moment, there’s the core of a really mind-boggling idea amid this incessant carnage. 







Total Recall: Mind-Bending Edition (Blu-ray)
Directed by Paul Verhoeven

Studio: Lionsgate
Year: 1990
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 113 minutes
Rating: R
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles:  SDH, French, German


Region: A
MSRP: $ 14.99



Release Date: July 31, 2012

Review Date: July 23, 2012




The Film

4/5


Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Doug Quaid, a mining engineer who has been having recurring nightmares about a former life on Mars. As he soon learns, he has a previous existence on the Red Planet that has been skillfully debugged from his brain. As these vague memories become an obsession with him, he becomes drawn into a whirling vortex of vice and corruption tied to a civil war now raging on Mars, an excavation planet in the year 2084. Slowly he begins piecing together his true identity with the help of a former girl friend (Rachel Ticotin) and some prophesying mutant aliens who are trying to recapture Mars from a band of viper-like businessmen led by a master criminal played by Ronny Cox.


The quasi-CIA nature of Schwarzenegger’s identity keeps the plot interesting even when things seem to get muddled in the crosses and doublecrosses that are built into the film’s plotting by writers Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, and Gary Goldman. (The film plays better on multiple views as one sorts through his own interpretation of the various dreams and realities that are present.) There are moments when the clever villains (some of whom aren’t obvious at first glance and others who are missing only a mustache to twirl) have us (and Quaid) convinced that what we have previously experienced has been a drug-induced dream, the product of an inefficient laboratory technician. But ingenuity and originality often give way to an almost unending sea of slaughter which director Paul Verhoeven embraces with consummate relish (though his Dutch pictures like Spetters and The 4th Man, while containing violence, kept it better in perspective). But he also handles the elaborate (for their time) special effects of these worlds of 2084 masterfully. And there is some humor: a robot taxi driver is great fun (one wishes there had been more scenes with it before it gets torched) and naturally Schwarzenegger has been given several dead-pan quips with the production team obviously hoping they’d strike gold as James Cameron had done using the actor in The Terminator. They got their wish.


Arnold Schwarzenegger gives off no romantic sparks at all even with two of the screen’s sexiest women (Rachel Ticotin and Sharon Stone) opposite him. He was still inexperienced enough as an actor to have trouble sometimes delivering lines with conviction (though there is definitely improvement here from earlier films), but there’s no denying his street cred in the action scenes, and there are some scenes where he's interacting with an image of himself that are nicely played by the actor. Ronny Cox and Michael Ironside play one-dimensional villains with great gusto. Both Rachel Ticotin and especially Sharon Stone carry off their action parts with impressive aplomb.



Video Quality

3.5/5


The transfer has been framed at the theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. As in previous video editions of this movie, bringing it into the home is an inconsistent experience. Sharpness, contrast, and color saturation levels are all erratic throughout with some of it looking reference quality and other parts appearing slightly foggy and indistinct. The reds of Mars are handled quite beautifully with no blooming, banding. or false contouring found in earlier releases. (The press notes state that this is an all-new, director-approved HD transfer, but I wasn’t able to lay my hands on my original Blu-ray copy to do an A/B comparison.) Flesh tones have a disconcerting inconsistency, sometimes appearing natural and at other times almost purplish in tone. Black levels are only average in depth. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.



Audio Quality

4/5


The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix shows its age by the lack of a full-throttled assault on all available channels. Though Jerry Goldsmith’s involving background score receives a fine surround encode, much of the rest of the film is stereophonic in its sound placement across the front channels with very little ambient sound being directed to the rears. The LFE channel is busy but doesn’t quite have the heft that more modern action movie soundtracks possess. Dialogue is always easily discernible and has been placed in the center channel.



Special Features

4/5


The audio commentary is a spirited sit down with director Paul Verhoeven and star Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both men love to talk and often talk over one another getting out their words. Both pretty much narrate the film (also providing upcoming spoilers to later events in the movie) but only rarely toss out some interesting anecdotes about making the picture.


An all-new interview with director Paul Verhoeven runs for 34 ¾ minutes and touches on quite a few aspects of the filmmaking process. He discusses the problems he had with the third act of the script, how much he enjoyed working with the Mexican crew, the storyboards used for the movie, Rob Bottin’s expert help in the film, his insistence on Arnold Schwarzenegger for the movie (Patrick Swayze, Richard Dreyfuss, and others were initially considered), casting the women’s roles for the picture, and his own falling into a sci-fi rut in Hollywood. It’s in 1080p.


The “Making Total Recall EPK featurette runs 8 ¼ minutes featuring brief interviews with Paul Verhoeven, make-up effects supervisor Rob Bottin, and co-stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronny Cox, and Michael Ironside. It’s in 480i.


“Models and Skeletons: The Special Effects of Total Recall” introduces us to miniatures supervisor Mark Stetson and CGI supervisor Tim McGovern who discuss their two departments in the making of the film. McGovern was one of four men on the special effects team who went home with Oscars for their work on the movie. This runs 23 ¼ minutes in 1080i.


“Imagining Total Recall is a thorough 31 ½-minute documentary featuring interviews with the director, production designer William Sandell, screenwriters Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon, editor Frank Urioste, stars Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, effects supervisor Eric Brevig, and composer Jerry Goldsmith,  all describing their years of work to bring the story to the screen. It’s in 480i.


A restoration comparison shows a very cloudy original film negative and the finished product in a number of split screen segments collected in a montage that runs 5 ¼ minutes in 1080p.


The photo gallery is a 1-minute montage of still images from the film presented in 1080p.


The disc contains promo trailers for Haywire, The Expendables, Termintaor 2: Judgment Day, and Stargate.



In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)


Total Recall: Mind-Bending Edition (as this new Blu-ray issue is billing itself) is an exciting if particularly violent sci-fi adventure tale. There are a couple of new bonus features here, and while the picture quality is not (and will probably never be) reference in nature, the film is still loads of fun to see again. Recommended!



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#2 of 34 OFFLINE   dmiller68

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Posted July 23 2012 - 10:11 AM

However, it doesn't seem like it is worth upgrading from the original bluray release?


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#3 of 34 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted July 23 2012 - 10:43 AM

I never picked this up before on DVD or any other video option.  Saw it in the theater and saw it on HBO the next year.  Looking forward to getting this copy, since I didn't have the other Blu-ray in any case.


I've always thought of this film as being a bit of a comedy.  So much of it is so over the top, and it's so hard to believe Schwarzenegger as an actor that it's just more fun to to enjoy the ride and watch the film's world blow up in front of you.  That, and there's a strong sense of Verhoeven openly topping the brutality on display in Robocop with some of the massacres that happen here.  I think this wasn't actually topped until Wanted a few years back...



#4 of 34 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted July 23 2012 - 10:50 AM

However, it doesn't seem like it is worth upgrading from the original bluray release?

That is what is sounds like to me. Since this was a new transfer, I had planned on double-dipping, as I really enjoy this film. However, I think i will just stick with the original BD release. I have already purchased this title enough times between the various BD and DVD releases. Thanks for saving me some cash, Matt.

#5 of 34 OFFLINE   cineMANIAC

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Posted July 23 2012 - 01:17 PM

I don't understand why a film from 1990 can't look great in high-def. Several releases on various formats and none of them have ever received high marks in the PQ dept. I wonder if the UK release utilizes a different transfer since I've read nothing but praise for the most part for the import.
 

 


#6 of 34 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted July 23 2012 - 10:07 PM

Originally Posted by Scott Merryfield 


That is what is sounds like to me. Since this was a new transfer, I had planned on double-dipping, as I really enjoy this film. However, I think i will just stick with the original BD release. I have already purchased this title enough times between the various BD and DVD releases.
Thanks for saving me some cash, Matt.


I have the UK edition, the colours are now saturated correctly, instead of being oversaturated and the contrast boost that blew out highlights is gone, its more film like to me, much of the EE is also gone, a vast improvement to my eyes.


     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

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#7 of 34 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted July 23 2012 - 11:40 PM

I have the UK edition, the colours are now saturated correctly, instead of being oversaturated and the contrast boost that blew out highlights is gone, its more film like to me, much of the EE is also gone, a vast improvement to my eyes.

Is the UK edition region-free?

#8 of 34 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted July 24 2012 - 12:09 AM

Originally Posted by Scott Merryfield 


Is the UK edition region-free?


It's region locked to B, the Lionsgate edition should come from the same newly created director approved master but whether the encode is the same i do not know.


     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

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#9 of 34 OFFLINE   jauritt

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Posted July 24 2012 - 12:22 AM

Okay, so now I'm really confused as to what to do. A review of the Studio Canal, Region B version of Total Recall was given a spectacular (5 stars for both PQ and AQ) review by Blu-ray.com. Is the Mind Bending Edition reviewed here the same transfer and it's just a difference of opinion by the respective reviewers?. Or is the Studio Canal really that much better, in which case that's the version I will purchase (for a lot more money).? They are BOTH designated as "Director Approved", so that makes it even more confusing. Anyone have any info or thoughts on this? Thanks.

#10 of 34 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted July 24 2012 - 12:29 AM

Originally Posted by jauritt 

Okay, so now I'm really confused as to what to do. A review of the Studio Canal, Region B version of Total Recall was given a spectacular (5 stars for both PQ and AQ) review by Blu-ray.com. Is the Mind Bending Edition reviewed here the same transfer and it's just a difference of opinion by the respective reviewers?. Or is the Studio Canal really that much better, in which case that's the version I will purchase (for a lot more money).? They are BOTH designated as "Director Approved", so that makes it even more confusing.
Anyone have any info or thoughts on this? Thanks.


Lionsgate use the Canal + Master for their Blu ray release, the only difference may be the final encode, sometimes i have noted Lionsgate add a little brightening boost to some of their releases, i do not know if that has happened here or whether its identical, if i had to take a bet on it then i would imagine it's probably the same transfer.


The site below is sometimes useful for finding out region information.


http://bluray.liesin...ex.php?region=b


     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

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#11 of 34 OFFLINE   Dave H

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Posted July 24 2012 - 02:06 AM

I will be picking this up tonight and comparing to the original U.S. version. Based on the screenshot comparisons I have seen, the new version is definitely a strong improvement in terms of looking more film-like and natural. The film grain is fine and resolved - a characteristic of a new scan as Lionsgate claims. The original transfer had larger, blockier more digital looking grain - a characteristic of older scanning. Either way, Total Recall is never going to look like eye candy due to source material.

#12 of 34 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted July 24 2012 - 02:36 AM

Originally Posted by Dave H 

I will be picking this up tonight and comparing to the original U.S. version. Based on the screenshot comparisons I have seen, the new version is definitely a strong improvement in terms of looking more film-like and natural. The film grain is fine and resolved - a characteristic of a new scan as Lionsgate claims. The original transfer had larger, blockier more digital looking grain - a characteristic of older scanning. Either way, Total Recall is never going to look like eye candy due to source material.


I'm sure many (including me) will be anxious to read your comparison thoughts. I really wanted to do a comparison, but I turned my house upside down looking for that first Blu-ray, and it's just not here. I must have loaned it to someone and never got it back. I thought I remembered a grainier image, but I couldn't be certain, so I didn't comment in the review.



#13 of 34 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted July 24 2012 - 02:39 AM

Originally Posted by MattH. 


I'm sure many (including me) will be anxious to read your comparison thoughts. I really wanted to do a comparison, but I turned my house upside down looking for that first Blu-ray, and it's just not here. I must have loaned it to someone and never got it back. I thought I remembered a grainier image, but I couldn't be certain, so I didn't comment in the review.


The old release has increased contrast and edge enhancement and that's the only reason the grain stands out more, nothing to do with the film scan.


     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

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#14 of 34 OFFLINE   Dave Moritz

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Posted July 25 2012 - 04:02 AM

I have the original release with the DTS-HD High Resolution track. What is everyone's take one the new release. I know that there where a few that said they would stick with there original bluray release. If the original would have been done in the old Dolby Digital or DTS I think I would have picked up the new one no matter what. Is there any improvement in transparency of the audio track or clarity with the new DTS-HD MA?
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#15 of 34 OFFLINE   Lord Dalek

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Posted July 26 2012 - 01:19 AM

Total Recall looked pretty lousy the last time I saw it in a theater so I'm sure this presentation is more than acceptable.



#16 of 34 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted July 26 2012 - 05:11 AM

FWIW, Blu-ray.com also gave the Mind Bending Edition a 5/5 for video.

Originally Posted by jauritt 

Okay, so now I'm really confused as to what to do. A review of the Studio Canal, Region B version of Total Recall was given a spectacular (5 stars for both PQ and AQ) review by Blu-ray.com. Is the Mind Bending Edition reviewed here the same transfer and it's just a difference of opinion by the respective reviewers?. Or is the Studio Canal really that much better, in which case that's the version I will purchase (for a lot more money).? They are BOTH designated as "Director Approved", so that makes it even more confusing.
Anyone have any info or thoughts on this? Thanks.


One thing leads to another at cameronyee.com

#17 of 34 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted July 27 2012 - 06:44 AM

Just seen that the re-make has been given a PG-13 rating, blah to that, even the fight scenes in the trailer look watered down, i'll pass on that and stick with the original, i hate to think what will happen with a re-make of RoboCop when it eventually gets made, oh well at least there is a good chance of a new film scan and release of the original.


     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

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#18 of 34 OFFLINE   Will_B

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Posted July 28 2012 - 06:36 PM

I'm holding off until I see whether the new US edition has the problems that a recent UK release has - yellow skin tones, blue lights changed to yellow, contrast artificially boosted, etc. Sounds like they wanted to fix this film but couldn't.
"Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted." -Krysta Now

#19 of 34 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted July 28 2012 - 08:52 PM

For 7.99, I'm buying it.






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#20 of 34 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted July 28 2012 - 10:33 PM

Originally Posted by Will_B 

I'm holding off until I see whether the new US edition has the problems that a recent UK release has - yellow skin tones, blue lights changed to yellow, contrast artificially boosted, etc.
Sounds like they wanted to fix this film but couldn't.


Not sure which edition you refer to, the recent edition is the new director approved transfer, its much better than the older one which has had contrast boosting, edge enhancement and colours oversaturated, there is a comparison below between the new edition and the old UK one, it's the same as the German edition, ( DE one ) seen here. I would think the new film scan would show the directors intent better and i think the blue lights were never actually really blue, that was a problem with the old transfer, i saw this at the cinema twice back in 1990 but for the life of me i don't recall what colours the lights were, what i do know is the transfer looks more film like and less artificially enhanced and less digital, some minor compression issues but not too bad.


http://caps-a-holic....less=#vergleich


This is one of those instances where on first look at some screencaps you might think the old European version has more pop and detail, look closer though and you will find halo's around objects and you will notice the bright objects are very contrast boosted and colours are oversaturated, for example of contrast boosting affecting the old transfer take a look at the lights outside the blinds on the right of the image below, also note too much blue is in the image, the new release fixes these issues.


http://caps-a-holic....less=#vergleich


Here is one showing them in the cave, note the blue coming from the torchlights and lack of detail on the old Lionsgate release, the new edition is far superior. The old Lionsgate is very poor overall and this would be a huge upgrade ( in my opinion ) for anyone who owns that edition of the film, remember the Canal + edition from the UK is using a new director approved transfer and it should be the same as the new Lionsgate release, assuming they don't tinker with it.


http://caps-a-holic....less=#vergleich


Comparison between all the different versions, just click any two to compare.


http://caps-a-holic....p?hd_multiID=63


I would also like to add that for accuracy the director does not have to remember how this all looked back in 1990, he will have access to the answer print that references the correct look and colours of this film.


     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

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