Total Recall is one of those seminal science fiction films that everyone knows, yet probably few have actually seen in its entirety. Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi thriller somehow managed to gain the status of classic pretty much as soon as it was released, and not just for its popularity or critical success. The film looks very dated, which would explain why they’re remaking it for 2012, but the visual effects are still pretty stellar, especially when one thinks back to what this must have been like for release audiences.
There really isn’t much to talk about, as this is mostly a smash-bang type of film, albeit one that is far headier than most due to its source material; Philip K. Dick always was one of the most reliable sci-fi writers. As for the film itself, I hope it was just the print I saw, but the film looked like it was shot on VHS tape, which certainly didn’t win it any points with me. The visual effects, however, were top notch, even with the degraded quality of the rest of the film, and the production design was similarly above par. The whole thing really sucks you into the futuristic, degraded world the film is set in, which enhances the experience several-fold.
All in all, if you’re looking for a decent action flick with the possibility (albeit a sadly unexplored one, which I hope the remake will do better with) of some deeper level thought and discussion, Total Recall will suffice just fine. Schwarzenegger may be the same guy in all his movies, but the rest of the film easily wraps around his carefully built persona and still manages to be entertaining nonetheless. I don’t know if I’d call this a must see before you die, but give this a try if you haven’t already; if you can mind Arnold, you’ll get through this one just fine.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10