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Len Wiseman
Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston , Bokeem Woodbine, Bill Nighy, John Cho, Will Yun Lee
Writing Credits:
Kurt Wimmer (and story), Mark Bomback, Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Jon Povill, Kurt Wimmer, Philip K. Dick (short story, "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale")

What is real?

Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he's got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life - real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. Finding himself on the run from the police - controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), the leader of the free world - Quaid teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy) and stop Cohaagen. The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as Quaid discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate.

Box Office:
$125 million.
Opening Weekend
$25.577 million on 3601 screens.
Domestic Gross
$58.877 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Service 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 118 min. (Theatrical Version) / 130 min. (Director’s Extended Cut)
Price: $40.99
Release Date: 12/18/2012

• Both Theatrical Version and Extended Director’s Cut
• Audio Commentary with Director Len Wiseman
• “Total Recall Insight Mode”
• Four Featurettes
• Gag Reel
• Previews
• DVD Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Total Recall [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 20, 2012)

Colin Farrell, King of the Hollywood Remake! For a few years there, it looked like the actor would specialize in big screen adaptations of TV cop shows, as Farrell starred in 2003’s SWAT and 2006’s Miami Vice. Ferrell laid off this kind of remade fare until 2011 when he did Fright Night, a reworking of the 1985 horror/comedy. Farrell then followed that effort with 2012’s Total Recall, a new version of the 1990 Schwarzenegger hit.

I didn’t think much of the 2011 Fright Night, but I felt fondness for the original might’ve interfered with my enjoyment of the remake. I’m not as wild about the 1990 Recall, though, so this left me more open to the remake’s charms – in theory, at least.

Set in the not-too-distant future, a prologue tells us that chemical warfare left most of the world uninhabitable. Civilized society fills the United Federation of Britain, while “the 99%” reside in “The Colony”, a territory that occupies Australia. Companies transport blue-collar workers from the Colony to the UFB via “The Fall”, a super-tunnel that cuts through the Earth’s core.

Doug Quaid (Farrell) lives in the Colony and works on an assembly line that creates mechanized law enforcement officers. Despite a happy marriage to sexy wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale), he feels somewhat unfulfilled and wishes for a bit more excitement.

This leads Quaid to “Rekall”, an organization that promises “virtual vacations” via memory implants. Quaid chooses a plan that allows him to mentally live out a fantasy as a secret agent. However, something goes wrong during the procedure, as it turns out that Quaid really is a secret agent – he just doesn’t remember any of this. The movie follows his adventures along with co-agent Melina (Jessica Biel) as they contend with a plot perpetrated by leader Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston).

Or do they? In the original film, we were often left to wonder how much of the story was real and how much was Memorex. That still plays a minor role in the remake, but don’t expect much to come of it. The 2012 version doesn’t toy with Quaid’s mind – and the audience’s – quite as much as its predecessor.

That lack of nuance is just one of the weaknesses that befall the remake. On the positive side, the 2012 Recall boasts much stronger production values. While I often criticize computer-generated effects, I must admit they look consistently terrific here. Production design clearly takes a cue from Blade Runner, but I still find the intricate cityscapes of Recall to add a special quality to the film. The visuals blend well and create a nice sense of life.

The 2012 version also comes with a better cast, though I don’t think they do much with their roles. Most of the actors here are more talented, but they don’t provide performances that exceed those of their predecessors.

That’s largely because most of them look kind of bored. Beckinsale invests the most heavily in her role; she doesn’t compete with the fun bitchiness Sharon Stone brought to the part in 1990, but at least she looks like she’s awake. On the other hand, Farrell and Biel seem vaguely sedated most of the time, and Cranston’s take on Cohaagen isn’t nearly as juicy as Ronny Cox’s.

It also seems like a mistake to cast two actresses who look a fair amount alike. In the original, we got blonde, semi-Nordic Sharon Stone and brunette Latina Rachel Ticotin; I guarantee no one ever confused one for the either. Here, however, it often becomes tough to tell which one is which, a factor exacerbated by the movie’s jumpy editing; with so much rapid-fire cutting, it becomes difficult to discern Beckinsale from Biel.

The 2012 Recall manages to strip the basic fun from the original. Whatever complaints I had about the 1990 version, at least it played loose and light with the material and kept things moving. In this one, we get precious little humor, as the film takes itself awfully seriously.

It also lacks much real plot. We’re stuck with a vague narrative about government corruption and a planned violent takeover of the Colony, but these don’t usually amount to much. Instead, we mostly just watch Quaid run away from danger and occasionally skirmish. We don’t invest in his tale or care what happens to him. The film dollops out details at an appropriate rate, but it doesn’t make these components interesting; they’re just windowdressing for a lot of running and fighting.

All of this adds up to a surprisingly dull film. Total Recall looks great but it’s less filling. Despite a lavish visual world, the film lacks much real excitement and tends toward snoozer territory.

Fun fact: The Campaign came out a week after Recall and it included a character named "Tim Wattley". That name was borrowed from Seinfeld where "Tim Whatley" was played by... Bryan Cranston!

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A/ Bonus B+

Total Recall appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. No notable problems emerged in this positive transfer.

Sharpness looked solid. Virtually no softness materialized, as the image remained tight and well defined. No jaggies or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement failed to appear. Source flaws were a non-factor, as the movie was always clean.

In terms of palette, Recall opted for the expected stylized tones. A lot of the movie went with either a blue or green overlay, though some amber and neons also appeared. Within the design parameters, the hues appeared well-developed and displayed good range for what they were able to do. Blacks seemed deep and tight, while shadows were clear and smooth. In the end, the image was consistently fine.

As for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Total Recall, it matched up well with the visuals. As expected, the movie’s action elements provided the most pizzazz, as chases and other dynamic sequences showed good movement and involvement. These components meshed together well and created a nice sense of environment, with useful material from the surrounds. We got tons of these, so the track filled all five channels on a nearly constant basis and created a terrific sense of the material.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was crisp and distinctive, with no edginess or other concerns. Music was full and rich, while effects came across as lively and accurate. The track boasted good low-end when appropriate. This became a quality soundtrack for a sci-fi action flick like this.

On Disc One, we find both the movie’s Theatrical Version (1:58:18) and an Extended Director’s Cut (2:10:16). What do we get from that extra 12 minutes? Lots and lots of short extensions – for the flick’s first half, at least. Throughout the film, we discover many brief additions that give us a smidgen more exposition and plot information. These are rarely noteworthy; most are brief bits that don’t impact the movie’s overall impact.

A few more substantial changes occur, though. We lose a subplot about Quaid’s desired promotion at work; instead, he meets with a government official who makes him sign a loyalty oath of sorts.

When Quaid discovers a video activated by his piano, we also find a radical change, and that alteration affects the rest of the story. This leads to a discovery about Matthias’s child and requires many differences the rest of the way. Some of these simply make small changes in lines, but we get a lot of additional dialogue to discuss the circumstances. These add a bit more depth to the proceedings, especially in terms of the Malina/Quaid relationship.

While the Blu-ray’s case claims it includes an “alternate ending”, this isn’t true in the expected sense. The changes mentioned above all come in the final third of the movie and impact the conclusion, but when you look at the flick’s last reel, it’s essentially the same no matter which cut you watch. There’s one minor change in the final scene, but there’s no true “alternate ending”; it’s just that the mix of character alterations give us a different impression of events.

Does one cut work better than the other? I think the Director’s Cut is probably superior, if just because it offers more emotional depth. Granted, some of the extensions in the movie’s first half can feel a bit redundant – in particular, the Malina/Quaid confrontation with Harry goes on too long – and others are largely superfluous, but the second half differences ensure that the DC becomes more satisfying.

Alongside the Director’s Cut, director Len Wiseman delivers an audio commentary. In this running, screen-specific affair, he gets into effects and visual design, changes made for the Director’s Cut, story, characters and comparisons with the 1990 movie, cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts and action, and a few other areas.

We find a nice chat from Wiseman. I like how much he offers about the changes made for the Director’s Cut, and he digs into a good variety of filmmaking subjects as well. The track moves at a solid clip and delivers an enjoyable and informative piece.

For another running piece, we get Total Recall: Insight Mode. This offers picture-in-picture material that we see as the theatrical cut progresses, though it pauses the film at times, so it goes for a total of two hours, 17 minutes, seven seconds. In addition to behind the scenes footage and text, we find comments from Wiseman, director of photography Paul Cameron, producers Neal H. Moritz and Toby Jaffe, set decorator Carolyn Loucks, composer Harry Gregson-Wilson, costume designer Sanja Milovic Hays, special makeup effects designer Jamie Kelman, special effects supervisor Clay Pinney, special effects shop supervisor Lee Alan McConnell, production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, visual effects supervisors Peter Chiang and Adrian De Wet, vehicle art director Oana Bogdan, LA special effects supervisor Burt Dalton, location manager Marty Dejczak, property master Deryck Blake, and actors Jessica Biel, Kaitlyn Leeb, John Cho, Colin Farrell, Bokeem Woodbine, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy.

“Insight Mode” examines cinematography and music, background facts about some of the story’s concepts, various effects, changes from the original story and the 1990 movie, costumes, makeup and visual design, sets and locations, stunts and action, cast and performances, and some additional topics.

“Picture-in-picture” modes tend to be hit or miss, but this one’s mostly “hit”. At times, too much of the movie passes without info, but that’s not a significant issue, as we don’t get tons of gaps. “Insight Mode” touches on a nice variety of subjects and does so in a reasonably complete manner.

Disc One opens with ads for Seven Psychopaths and Resident Evil: Retribution. These also appear under Previews along with ads for Men in Black 3, Premium Rush and Parker.

Disc Two provides for featurettes. We find “Science Fiction vs. Science Fact” (9:28), “Designing the Fall” (2:55), “Total Action” (20:00), and “Stepping Into Recall” (25:30). Across these, we hear from Wiseman, Cranston, Jaffe, Tatopoulos, De Wet, Farrell, Moritz, Biel, Beckinsale, Cameron, Pinney, McConnell, Dejczak, Professor of Theoretical Physics Michio Kaku, and special effects Drew Longland.

These programs cover thoughts about the scientific realities behind Recall concepts, the design and execution of “The Fall”, cast, characters and performances, stunts and action, effects, and previsualization. “Fact” offers some interesting thoughts, and the others generate decent footage from the set, but the level of information tends toward the fluffy side. “Stepping” consists entirely of pre-viz sequences, which makes it more compelling, but overall, these featurettes tend to be somewhat banal.

Finally, we locate a Gag Reel. It runs eight minutes and shows a pretty standard collection of silliness and mistakes. If that works for you, go for it!

Disc Three offers a DVD Copy of Total Recall. It comes with a few extras, as we get “Insight Mode”, the gag reel, and the “Fact” and “Fall” featurettes.

While not a failure as a movie, Total Recall delivers a fairly limp remake. Despite a stronger cast and superior production values, it lacks the basic “fun factor” of the original and never does a lot to engage the viewer. The Blu-ray comes with excellent picture and audio as well as a generally solid collection of bonus materials. This becomes a quality Blu-ray for a mediocre movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.258 Stars Number of Votes: 31
16 3:
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