HTF UMD REVIEW: Total Recall (Recommended!)

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by David Galindo, Aug 24, 2005.

  1. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

    Mar 30, 2003
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    [c]Total Recall (UMD)
    Region 1 • R • Dolby Headphone Surround • Available Now


    I have to say, Lion’s Gate understands the UMD format better than any company so far. Read on to find out exactly what I mean.

    Thoughts on the Movie

    I have to say, Total Recall has always been a sci-fi guilty pleasure for me. It is, in my opinion, the best movie Arnold Schwarzenegger has ever been in.

    Paul Verhoeven, the director of the movie, always likes dark and gritty futurescapes, whether it be Total Recall or Starship Troopers. Here Arnold lives a normal life as a construction worker, where he dreams (literally) of taking a trip to Mars. He hears about an agency called Rekall that allows you to complete your fantasy while you’re asleep, like a head trip.

    I dunno why I like this movie so damn much, but I can point out the things that make it great to watch. The score by Jerry Goldsmith is one of the best scores he ever composed. The storyline is interesting in that it provides several layers at once, so that you can view the movie one way and watch it again with another mindset. And Arnold is very convincing, or convincing enough for me I guess.

    There’s lots of violence, though I suppose it’s not as much as movies now these days. And to think the violence alone was pushing the movie to the X rating.

    Anyways, if you haven’t watched this movie by now and like a good Arnold flick, you absolutely need to check this out. One of my favorite sci-fi movies ever.

    Video Quality

    The movie is in its OAR of 1.85, which is good. Going into the movie, I was a bit worried… after all, the last Lion’s Gate movie I saw was T2, which had a horrid transfer. Seeing how reds are the hardest to compress on a DVD or UMD, and the movie was on the Red Planet half the time… well, I expected disaster.

    Disaster averted. There are no smearing or compression problems that I saw like T2, and the reds looked great. But, the colors are a bit subdued. Instead of the bright reds of Mars, we get a dark maroon version. Interestingly, the colors when inside buildings look fine.

    It’s not so much a problem as it is a different look to the film. The black levels could have been better, but overall this is a huge improvement over T2, and I’m satisfied.


    Audio Quality

    The audio overall is loud, and the highs are really punchy here. But the real good news is that Lion’s Gate included a Dolby Headphone Surround track along with the regular Dolby Digital track! So what’s the difference?

    The differences are extremely subtle… so subtle that for a time I thought the tracks were exactly the same and they made a mistake. After forty minutes or so of comparing, I finally pinned the major difference.

    The Dolby Headphone track is optimized in that it makes the audio “breathe.” The sound stage is pushed back to create a larger area of sound. For example, crowds sound about normal with the Dolby Digital track. But turn on the DPH track, and the crowd sounds a bit larger in score, as if you pulled your headphones an inch from your ears and turned it up more. Essentially, the surrounds are given more space to pop into, and everything sounds a bit bigger.

    Like I said before, it’s subtle but there. If you listen to the DPH track on an external speaker system though, it doesn’t sound quite as good as the regular DD track. So, when using speakers go for the regular track, and headphone & PSP onboard speakers should use the Headphone track.

    A big round of applause for Lion’s Gate in including this with their UMDs… it’s one example of how they cater to the UMD market.



    Drumroll please... this UMD contains…

    A full length commentary by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Paul Verhoeven! That’s right, you get the full two hour track over the movie, a first for UMDs. Woo!

    The commentary is a fun one, with Verhoeven providing details on making the film and Schwarzenegger describing exactly what’s happening on the screen. It’s hilarious in it’s own way… almost like this:

    Arnold: So this is the part of the movie where I shoot the guys.
    Verhoeven: Yeah, isn’t it? And you wonder… are you dreaming, or for reals?
    A: Look, I got my gun out. See, I took out my gun because I was gonna shoot the guy.
    V: Right, isn’t it? Yeah. Yeah.
    A: Right.
    V: Yeah.
    A: Yeah. Look, I shot him. This is essentially the part of the movie where I shoot the guy.
    V: Right, isn’t it?
    A: And he died. He died because I pulled out my gun and shot him. Which is part of the movie. And I’m in the movie.
    V: Yes, isn’t it?

    I’m laughing as I type all this, because that’s exactly the tone of the track. Not to say its bad- it’s a very entertaining commentary as they discuss how they made the movie, what went into the design, etc. It’s all very interesting stuff, and worth a listen.

    Not only that, but we get a small feature on the real Mars called Visions of Mars (5:28) which has a pretty optimistic view on how we’ll eventually make the trek up to Mars within the next couple of decades. Neat.

    Rounding all this out is a really slick menu system, but unfortunately has no sound effects or music over it. Phooey. There is also a really neat chapter selection, and a Coming Soon option that lets you see some upcoming UMD Movie cover art, but that’s it. Best of SNL: Chris Farley and Will Ferrell looks good…

    So, that’s it. I have to say, I would always trade in a behind the scenes doc for a commentary track on UMD. I’m really glad Lion’s Gate included it, and here’s hoping for future tracks from other companies!



    You get a good picture, great audio, good menu, a commentary and a featurette for $14-20. Wow.

    The commentary is an excellent addition to the UMD, and I was impressed with Lion’s Gate this time around. If they keep working on the video quality, they will be the best UMD studio yet. As it stands, this UMD is quite a contender for the best UMD so far. Highly recommended.

  2. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

    Jan 17, 2001
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    John Steffens
    I'm not a huge fan of this movie, and already have the DVD, but I just may get this because of the headphone feature.

    It will go great with the sub headphones.

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