Get your ass to Mars! 5 Stars

Construction worker Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) dreams of adventure and tries to convince his wife Lori (Sharon Stone) to move to Mars. When that fails, he does the next best thing: He goes to Rekall for a dream implantation of a 2 week trip to the red planet. Choosing to take a vacation from himself, he opts in for extra credit to become a spy and encounter the woman of his (literal) dreams, Melina (Rachel Ticotin) during this virtual travel. Something goes haywire during the implant though, and Quaid wakes believing he actually is a spy and that armed agents of Mars overseer Cohaagen (Ronny Cox) are coming to kill him. Led by Richter (Michael Ironsides), thugs ARE after Quaid, and he eludes them and finally gets his trip to our nearest neighbor planet. On Mars, Quaid finds Melina and seeks out the mysterious rebel leader Kuoto in attempts to find out what information is hidden in Quaid’s thick skull. Is he really the key to a Martian revolution or is Quaid suffering a giant delusion of grandeur?

Total Recall (1990)
Released: 01 Jun 1990
Rated: R
Runtime: 113 min
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox
Writer(s): Philip K. Dick (short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"), Ronald Shusett (screen story), Dan O'Bannon (screen story), Jon Povill (screen story), Ronald Shusett (screenplay), Dan O'Bannon (screenplay), Gary Goldman (screenplay)
Plot: When a man goes for virtual vacation memories of the planet Mars, an unexpected and harrowing series of events forces him to go to the planet for real - or is he?
IMDB rating: 7.5
MetaScore: 57

Disc Information
Studio: Lionsgate
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 2.0 DD, French 5.1 DTS
Subtitles: Spanish, French
Rating: R
Run Time: 113 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: Keep Case with cover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 12/8/2020
MSRP: $14.99

The Production: 5/5

Based on Philip K. Dick’s short story “We can remember it for you wholesale”, Total Recall is one of the best science fiction movie adaptations of all time, and cemented Arnold Schwarzenegger as a bona fide action hero and star. This was not always a sure thing though, with multiple studios, directors and leads scheming to get the picture made for over a decade before the pieces fell into place with Arnold playing mastermind behind the scenes. We won’t even mention the terrible, joyless, remake further than saying: don’t bother.

And everything is aces in this film. Schwarzenegger is in top physical form and brings a spark of wonder to Quaid that would go on to be his signature style on screen. Sharon Stone is radiant as his young, beautiful, wife, with a hidden flair for karate. Ironsides is as relentless as a Terminator in hunting down his prey. The score by Jerry Goldsmith is a mélange of orchestral and synthesizer pop that matches 40+ straight minutes of action with interesting cues that build and never repeat, and then tops it during the final scenes. Paul Verhoeven’s direction is just what Arnold wanted, matching the drive, humor and mystery he brought so well to Robocop, with not so subtle digs at consumerism, sex, and authoritarianism.

30 years on and it remains eminently watchable: Arnold as everyman is hard to believe with a physique like that, but it’s his ability to let hope, wonder, confusion and humor shine through that completely overshadow his body’s presence. Stone would go on to serious stardom herself as a driven psychopath in Basic Instinct, but here she pairs her hidden agendas with boundless sexiness, all behind an enormous and believable smile. The eye popping (literally!) makeup and practical effects by master Rob Bottin are matched by a single x-ray wall CGI shot that was so influential that people still talk about it today. And even THAT is followed up by the robotic ‘Fat Lady’ mask gag that has never seen equal.

When people say “They don’t make movies like that anymore” it literally is Total Recall they are talking about. The film simply has it all.

Video: 3.5/5

3D Rating: NA

Featuring a new 4K UHD transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR 10 encodes, Recall has never looked better. Still, there’s a lot of grain, a lot of weak focus, and a lot of soft shots inherent to the original capture. Skin in particular looks airbrushed throughout. Much has exploded around the web with people up in arms over this transfer and I can’t say I disagree with some of it, but the over reaction has already begun with some calling it trash fit for being in a litter box or dumpster fire. No, it’s not that bad. Is it up to the best transfers we have seen from similar and earlier era films? No, clearly not, but it’s not trash either. The HDR is subtle too. But it’s there and for that alone this is worth upgrading from the Blurays.

Bottom line: I personally believe a lot of what folks are frustrated about is baked into the original film, and as this transfer was approved by Paul Verhoeven HE is fine with it as is. Do I wish it was even better? Yes I do, but I’m not going to be among the gang carrying pitchforks and demanding a new transfer.

Audio: 3.5/5

Similarly there is a new Atmos encode but it too is subtly better than previous editions. It’s -accurate-, detailed and airy, with stuff well positioned throughout the presentation. But it’s still late 80s sound technology, for good or bad, fed into Atmos without being fundamentally re-done. There’s not a ton of bass and I think that will be the biggest sticking point, but Goldsmith’s soundtrack is more amazing than ever and its hold on the film is stronger because of Atmos.

Special Features: 4/5

Total Excess: How Carolco Changed Hollywood
This was TERRIFIC. Recommended.

Open Your Mind: Scoring Total Recall
Also very good!

Audio Commentary by Paul Verhoeven & Arnold Schwarzenegger
I believe this is a retread from previous Blurays

Models and Skeletons: The Special Effects of Total Recall
The Making of Total Recall
Imagining Total Recall
All fun for a special effects junky like me, especially liked the segments featuring Bottin.

Overall: 4.5/5

In the pantheon of Sci-Fi films, Total Recall is among the very top. It’s rare that a story like this gets translated so well to a Hollywood film, but you can read it for yourself and see that the -essence- has been boiled down and given new direction that makes way more sense as a movie plot:
We can remember it for you wholesale

I’d argue that Recall is one of those rare, perfect films, at least when considering the era in which it was produced. As noted above everything just works and was top notch for its’ day. I totally get why some early reviewers wish that it looked and sounded even better than it does here, but I am satisfied that what is on the disk is accurate to the film’s underlying original captures and that the HDR pass and Atmos encodes alone make this a worthy upgrade. Others will surely disagree and that’s OK. It’s 15 bucks on Amazon right now, and that includes the Blu-ray and the digital code too. Totally worth it!

Post Disclaimer

Some of our content may contain marketing links, which means we will receive a commission for purchases made via those links. In our editorial content, these affiliate links appear automatically, and our editorial teams are not influenced by our affiliate partnerships. We work with several providers (currently Skimlinks and Amazon) to manage our affiliate relationships. You can find out more about their services by visiting their sites.

Published by

Sam Posten

editor,member

Malcolm R

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2002
Messages
19,663
Real Name
Malcolm
I have it on pre-order. Never bought it on blu-ray, so I'm sure this will be an upgrade over the DVD.
 

Todd Erwin

Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
6,682
Location
Hawthorne, NV
Real Name
Todd Erwin
This was one of many films released in 70mm that I was assigned to watch as part of Lucasfilm's defunct Theater Alignment Program in the mid 1980s to early 1990s. I remember the 70mm print I had to monitor at the Syufy Cinedome in Orange, CA looking rather soft, so I think Sam is not too far off from saying that many of the issues in the transfer are baked in to the source material.
 

Scott Merryfield

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 16, 1998
Messages
16,558
Location
Mich. & S. Carolina
Real Name
Scott Merryfield
Thanks for the review, Sam. If I recall (pun sort of intended), the BD didn't look that great, so I am not surprised that the UHD is not pristine. As you said, it's probably inherent in the source. Regardless, I have this on pre-order (at a good price), and am looking forward to seeing it in 4K. I always enjoy watching this film. Arnold is terrific, and it has a great supporting cast with Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox and Sharon Stone.
 

Billy Batson

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2008
Messages
3,762
Location
London
Real Name
Alan
This film is tremendous fun, & if you're an Arnie fan you just must have it. I have the new Blu-ray, but I haven't looked at it yet (it's on the Christmas viewing pile), but from the caps I've seen it looks far more film-like than the old Blu-ray, which I wasn't very keen on. The film is never going to look really great, there's too many dupes in it for that (I dunno, I suppose there's CGI in it, but most of the effects look like they were done the old fashioned way), & I think the film is designed to look ugly; the clothes, the ugly concrete buildings, & those computers at Rekall look like something from an old Flash Gordon serial... & I can't think of another film where the hero gets kicked in the balls so often!
 
Last edited:

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,308
I will definitely be getting my ass back to Mars with this edition. Based on its filmic (is this a word? if so I probably used it incorrectly) contemporaries I don't have high video quality expectations. For whatever reason (RAH and other film historians could probably explain why) many films shot in the 80s and early 90s just looked..."cheap" by comparison. Like film stock quality declined or something. I don't know, but this movie has never been one I put on for "reference quality" video.

I put it on because it's a hell of a lot of fun and I look forward to wishing I had three hands soon.
 

Dave Moritz

Premium
Joined
Jul 7, 2001
Messages
8,247
Location
California
Real Name
Dave Moritz
Thank you for the review Sam very much appreciated. I am not only looking forward to adding this movie to my 4K blu-ray collection. But am looking to add more Schwarzenegger titles as well!



Total Recall1.jpg
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,308
Also this is probably tmi, but this is the film in which I fell in love with Sharon Stone as an adolescent (not the, ahem, other film she was famous for).

Every time I watch this film I keep thinking “if I was Doug I would have stayed married to her” :lol:
 

John Sparks

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2001
Messages
3,481
Location
Menifee, CA
Real Name
John Sparks
I just can’t see see buying this again. I’ve gone from the Mars SD package to the BD. I’ll have to pass on this one, even though it’s one of my favorites. My PJ doesn’t do justice to UHD. I have 17 UHDs titles and that will be my limit until I upgrade to a more expensive JVC...which ain’t’t going to be for awhile.
 

Nelson Au

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 16, 1999
Messages
16,375
“Give these people air!” I always liked the way Arnold said that line.

I had no idea this release was coming so I’m going to pick it up. A couple of questions, is the included blu ray disc from the new mastering or is it the same as the old blu ray?

Regarding the soundtrack, I’ll be picking that up too, I always try to add more Goldsmith scores to my collection. I’m not familiar to the Quartet label, I imagine this is a good transfer or you wouldn’t be recommending it?

I was on a business trip in China and I had trouble sleeping. The hotel had a movie channel and was playing the remake of Total Recall. I didn’t want to see the whole thing in case I didn’t want to be spoiled in case I wanted to collect that version. It did look good, I liked its more modern look over the Verhoven Arnold version. But I think the original is still a classic With its own virtues.