Total Recall (2012 – Blu-ray) Mastered in 4K

May 17, 2013 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

The Summer of 1990 had a few event movies: Ghost was one, Dick Tracy was another and even Days of Thunder had some buzz.  But before he was Governor Ah-nuld, Mr. Schwarzenegger was in prime form in action movies.  But…wait.  Wrong movie.  Or is it?  Based on the novel “We Can Remember it for you Wholesale” Total Recall might actually be one of the most interesting of Phillip K. Dick’s novels (and if the name rings a bell, think of movies like Minority Report, Blade Runner and I Am Legend) brought to screen.  And, admittedly, when I heard they were remaking it, I really wasn’t sure what to think.  The original was well-made, had a decent cast and some (at the time) good special effects.  Plus it had Michael Ironside.  What more do you need?

The plot is either ridicoulously simple or vastly complex, depending on how you look at it.  We meet Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), a factory worker who helps assemble robots.  His life is good, his wife (Kate Beckinsale) is certainly easy on the eyes, but he longs for more.  So in attempt to escape reality, he decides to head to Rekall, where they can implant memories of a vacation or even another more exciting version of you.  But, as fate would have it, something goes wrong and all of the sudden Douglas Quaid is a wanted man.  Quaid had ideas of being a secret agent, but it’s revealed that his is a secret agent!  He finds a friend in Melina (Jessica Biel) who might be his only hope to clear his name and stay alive.  The question is…will he?

For those that have seen the original, there’s not a whole lot new here save for the fact that the movie takes place on Earth and Mars is mentioned only in passing.  The movie makes note that the only two inhabitable areas on the Earth are the UK and Australia and a shuttle that goes through the Earth’s core can get you from one place to the other in just about 20 minutes.  Having never read the novel, I have no idea if this was mentioned there, but it was a pretty intriguing, if far-fetched concept.  I really didn’t use to be a fan of Colin Farrell, but I think he’s made some fairly interesting career choices in the last few years and his turn in Horrible Bosses might have sealed the deal for me.  Granted, he’s got plenty of female admirers (as my wife can attest to) and for the men, there’s always Kate Beckinsale and/or Jessica Biel (the latter would be my preference).  I still prefer the original Total Recall to the remake if only for the cast and some great one-liners, but this remake is certainly worth a watch.

Video: How does it look?

For those that remember, Sony  has pulled this stunt before.  Remember the Superbit titles (and then later the Superbit Deluxe)?  Well, this is essentially the Blu-ray equivalent of those.  Sony has taken a handful of titles, both new and catalog, and has re-mastered them with new 4K resolution transfers that’s set to be used for the upcoming Ultra HD 4K TVs.  I haven’t seen one of these in person, but after a trip to my local home theater store the man told me that they were demoing a 90″ in their DC store, not too far away.  And the price?  Just a shade under $40,000.  Don’t know about you, but that’s just a tad bit out of my range.  Nevertheless, you’ve got to hand it to Sony for being ahead of the curve.

Moving onto the actual picture, well that’s a bit difficult as I just reviewed this movie a few months back and gave it scores of 5 for both audio and video.  So how do you really improve on “perfection?” You don’t.  After scrutinizing the picture from start to finish (and gawking even more at Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel) I’m hard-pressed to find much, if anything, that’s really that much better.  Now if I had one of those $40K televisions, it might be a different story but I don’t.  The same dark and dismal color palette is used, detail is downright amazing, contrast and black levels are spot on – what more could you ask for?  The 2.40:1 AVC HD image is literally as good as it gets. So while there might be more of an improvement in a catalog title like Ghostbusters, there really wasn’t any improvement here.

Audio: How does it sound?

Like the video, there was really no marked improvement in the audio department either.  Both discs feature a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack that rocked my system from beginning to end.  The part where they go through the center of the earth is among my favorites in recent memory.  I did read that there was a sync issue with some discs, but I might have been one of the lucky ones as I noticed no such error.  I won’t re-invent the wheel here since I’ve already essentially said how this sounded in my previous review, suffice it to say I really didn’t detect anything new or noticeably different here.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Now this is where the controversy lies.  Remember those Superbit titles I was talking about?  Well if you’re someone who just likes top notch audio and video then this might be for you.  But you do lose all of the special features found on the regular Blu-ray disc as well as the unrated version of the movie, what you get here is the PG-13 version.  The audio and video look essentially the same to me, so if you’re not all about the supplements then this might be the disc for you.  Otherwise, it wasn’t broke, so I saw no reason to fix this one.

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