Total Recall (2012) Blu-ray Review
I feel the same way about the 2012 version of TOTAL RECALL as I do about 2012’s THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN in that if it hadn’t been for the original films, these already good movies would be great movies. But there’s only so much you can overlook when a film is remade 22 years after the original hit theaters. In TOTAL RECALL’s defense, at least director Len Wiseman (UNDERWORLD) took a different approach to Philip K. Dick’s science fiction short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”, rather than just redoing what Paul Verhoeven did in 1990.
The plot is similar to the Schwarzenegger film, but there is no Mars setting. In this version, earth is split into two inhabitable areas, the United Federation of Britain (UFB) and The Colony. The Colony is where most of the labor, including our hero Douglas Quaid, lives. Quaid is a seemingly normal guy that is sick of his boring life. Obsessed with the company “Total Rekall” that promises to alter your memory to make you believe you’re anything you want, Quaid breaks down and decides to give it a shot. But before the process can take effect, Quaid is attacked by a group of agents looking to take him in. At that point, Quaid fights his way out and then must try to figure out what’s real and what’s not.
The inner struggle Quaid goes through as he’s trying to decipher what’s real is secondary for most of the film. As soon as Quaid is attacked, it sets off a series of chases and action sequences as he teams up with Melina (Jessica Biel) to avoid his wife (Kate Beckinsale), who was actually an UFB agent all along. The action scenes are wonderful to watch and each one is more intense than the other. As a pure action film, TOTAL RECALL is a rousing success. The film tends to struggle when it tries to weave in the deeper meanings and then explore the reality vs. fiction aspects of the story. Len Wiseman is an expert at shooting action scenes in the rain and making fights look epic, but he continues to struggle when it comes to character development and plot depth.
One thing that TOTAL RECALL has to be commended on is the giant, grand settings that are used throughout the film. The Colony looked stunning and rather than showing it from up high and then blocking out the backgrounds when you get closer, Wiseman was brave enough to show the CGI settings in all their glory at all times. We followed Quaid as he was running through the streets and the whole time I was mesmerized by the intricate backgrounds. But it wasn’t just the cities that were impressive, the chase scene through the elevators was also beautifully intense with Quaid and Melina dodging moving compartments like they were pieces of a puzzle. Regardless of what anyone thinks about the TOTAL RECALL remake, the settings and production value was incredible.
I thoroughly enjoyed the 2012 version of TOTAL RECALL and as much as I liked the original, I would have to say that the remake is a higher quality film. That said, it is a rehash of a story we’ve already seen before and so it’s tough to heap too much praise on the film. It’s more than enough to keep you entertained, but I found myself forgetting the film almost as soon as the credits rolled. It’s an odd way for a movie about memory loss to leave an audience.
Video: TOTAL RECALL looked incredible from start to finish.
Audio: The audio was also very impressive.
Commentary with Len Wiseman: Wiseman gives an excellent commentary and dives head first into the differences between the theatrical and director’s cuts of the film. He explains his decisions and talks about all aspects of the film. If you were down on the film, listening to him talk about it might be enough to make you respect it a littlemore.
Total Recall Insight Mode: It’s hard not to love Blu-ray with features like this. You can play the movie with this activated and a ton of behind the scenes featurettes will pop up and play next to the movie to show you how certain scenes were shot. It’s a fun feature.
Gag Reel (7:59): The cast flubs their lines and have a good laugh about it.
Science Fiction vs. Science Fact (9:27): A couple of professors sit down and theorize about the possibilities of holograms, flying cars, etc. It was mildly interesting, but it seems like an unnecessary feature.
Designing the fall (2:53): A much too short feature looking at the design of the sets.
Total Action (20:35): This is a seven part featurette, with each part focusing on a different aspect of the film. Fans of Farrell, Beckinsale and Biel will appreciate the featurettes dedicated to them, while more technical fans will enjoy the deeper dives into the making of some of the action scenes.
Stepping Into Recall: Pre-Visualization Sequences (25:57): A collection of five scenes from the film shown in their computerized storyboard form. This is a neat feature, but not something I could watch all the way through.