Total Recall (1990) B+
Just before he made the infamous and scandalous erotic thriller, “Basic Instinct,” the gifted Dutch-born director Paul Verhoeven’s helmed “Total Recall,” an exciting swashbuckling space odyssey, a vigorous sci-fi thriller that packs a wallop.
The summer blockbuster of 1990, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, will run at Film Forum from August 10 through August 16, in a new DCP restoration approved by the director.
The new remake of “Total Recall,” starring Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale, opens August 3, 2012.
Working stiff Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Douglas Quaid dreams at night of Mars and a mysterious brunette, though his blonde wife (Sharon Stone) would prefer a Saturn vacation.
Money tight? No problem! A deluxe, adventure-packed two-week Martian holiday comes courtesy virtual memory implant specialists “Rekall.” It seems that nothing could go wrong? Right? Wrong.
Douglas suspects that his mind has been programmed by someone else’s memories. Suddenly, people are trying to kill Douglas, he finds himself unmarried, he’s pulling a ping-pong ball-sized device out through his nose, he’s on Mars with rebels, mutants, and a seductive brunette (Rachel Ticotin). But how much of it is real? Could this be just another fantasy dream?
The tale is adapted by Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, and Gary Goldman, from sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” which was a twisted and twistful examination of the basic questions of identity and memory, with thrilling escapes, multiple double crosses, and vigorous explosions. Dick may be best known to American viewers from the 1982 “Blade Runner,” by Ridley Scott.
Many of author Philip K. Dick’s themes recur in this tale: issues of frail and shifty identity, significance of self-determination, subjective perception, selective memory, the possibility of revolution, strong female characters.
The high body count is spiced with “Ahnoldian” wisecracks (“consider that a divorce”), vintage Oscar-winner Jerry Goldsmith score, and Oscar-winning Visual Effects.
Surprisingly, Schwarzenegger, who is perfectly cast, renders a human-scale, sympathetic performance that expresses the character’s vulnerability amidst the surrounding mechanical mayhem. Two years later, Schwarzenegger made an even more striking sci-fi, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,”directed by James Cameron, which went on to become a cult picture, just like the 1984 “Terminator.”
Made in 1990, “Total Recall.” a pop slam-bang adventure, is one of the last Hollywood blockbusters to employ mostly hand-made FX, along with some early, equally quaint CGI.
Combining pulp nihilism and ultra-graphic carnage, Verhoeven is satirizing in a clever and witty way end-of-the-millenium entropy. In his vision of a technological society, the more things change, the more they get worse. Verhoeven’s technical ingenuity and narrative savvy compensate for the brutal violence, which is often both shocking and darkly humorous.
Oscar Nominations: 3
Sound: Nelson Stoll, Michael J. Kohut, Carlos DeLarios, Aaron Rochin
The Sound Award went to “Dances with Wolves,” and the Editing Sound Effects to “The Hunt for Red October.”
Doug Quaid (Aronold Schwarzenegger0
Melina (Rachel Ticotin)
Lori Quaid (Sharon Stone)
Cohaagen (Ronny Cox)
Richter (Michael Ironside)
George/Kuato (Marshall Bell)
Benny (Mel Johnson Jr.
Helm (Michael Champion)
Dr. Edgemar (Roy Bocksmith)
McClane (Ray Baker)
Running time: 113 min
Rialto Pictures Release
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