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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
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 5/14/2013

• None


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 4K] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 13, 2013)

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 those experiences. 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 F

Total Recall appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. For the film’s second Blu-ray release, it comes as part of Sony’s “Mastered in 4K” line. What does that mean? Here’s what Sony’s press release promises us:

“’Mastered in 4K’ Blu-ray releases will feature titles sourced from pristine 4K masters and presented at high-bitrate 1080p resolution, with expanded color showcasing more of the wide range of rich color contained in the original source. When upscaled via the Sony 4K Ultra HD TVs, these discs serve as an ideal way for consumers to experience near-4K picture quality. ‘Mastered in 4K’ Blu-ray Discs can be played on all existing Blu-ray Disc players.”

Old DVD fans will remember Sony’s “Superbit” program, as it came with similar promises. Superbit DVDs and “Mastered in 4K” BDs jettison all supplements to theoretically optimize picture/audio quality.

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.

How did the 2013 4K Blu-Ray compare to the original Total Recall Blu-ray? Audio was literally identical, while visuals appeared essentially the same as well. Perhaps if I got within inches of my TV, I might see a difference, but from my normal viewing distance, the “new” Blu-ray – which came a mere five months after the original disc – offered no discernible improvements. Both looked and sounded great.

As noted earlier, the 4K release drops all of the prior release’s extras. That means no commentary or other elements – and we also lose the original disc’s “Director’s Cut”.

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 but loses the original disc’s ample bonus materials. Since I discerned virtually no improvements in visuals or sound, I’d recommend that fans stick with the original Blu-ray, as its supplements make it the more useful version.

To rate this film, visit the original Blu-Ray review of TOTAL RECALL (2012)

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