Total Recall (2012 – Blu-ray)

December 20, 2012 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?

Total Recall might be a dark vision of a future gone wrong, but let me assure there’s nothing wrong with the way this Blu-ray looks.  Sony has done a masterful job at presenting this 2.40:1 AVC HD image and it looks simply stunning.  It’s perfect.  Yes. Perfect.  Black levels are dead on, contrast is nailed, flesh tones, though they change from time to time, are exact and detail level is razor sharp. There are so many gadgets, digital displays, things that glow, things that blink and everything in between it’s hard to precisely describe how good this looks.  It’s as if you’re there, on set, watching it with your own eyes.  The movie might leave you yearning for more, but this transfer delivers on every possible level.

Audio: How does it sound?

This kind of threw me for a loop, but Total Recall actually features a Dolby TrueHD mix.  Of course there’s nothing wrong with an uncompressed mix and the movie nails it from opening credits to closing.  Dynamic range is impressive with an ambient mix of loud bangs and booms to little intricacies like the sound of falling rain.  Farrell’s deep, raspy voice can be heard with the utmost clarity as vocals sound strong and consistent throughout.  The front stage takes the burden off the surrounds, but they are almost always constantly humming away. LFE are heavily involved as well which makes for a very robust and immersive mix.  A top notch effort here as well.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This three disc Blu-ray has just about everything you could want in a movie.  There’s a Blu-ray copy of the movie with two versions (a theatrical cut and an extended cut), a DVD of the film as well as an UltraViolet version of the film.  We’ll start off with the standard features that begins with a director’s commentary by Len Wiseman. If the name sounds familiar it’s because he’s the man associated with the a few of the Underworld films.  Wiseman is passionate about the project and after listening to this track, I do have more of an appreciation for the film, but still prefer the original.  There’s also an interactive feature called “Total Recall: Insight Mode” which is a picture-in-picture/split screens of production notes and some interesting segments from the film.  Moving onto the second disc we find a number of featurettes about the film, in particular “Total Action” which is a series of seven shorter features that give us information on just about every aspect of the film.  “Designing The Fall” is a very short, almost too short, look at the production design of the set pieces for the film.  We also get some previews, some pre-visualization set pieces, a video game demo (God of War) as well as a gag reel that way overstays its welcome.

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