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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: July 31: Total Recall


July 31: Total Recall

"When a man goes for virtual vacation memories of the planet Mars, an unexpected and harrowing series of events forces him to go to the planet for real, or does he?"
Directed by: Paul Verhoeven, Rated: R, 113 minutes

I decided to get ready for Friday's release of the Total Recall remake by watching the original 1990 classic and, in my opinion, Arnold Schwarzenegger's best movie. Paul Verhoeven is a director who has been all over the place, giving us Robocop, Starship Troopers, and even Showgirls. The man has a particularly odd set of skills that allow him to make the most over-the-top action movies (sans Showgirls) with a style that's completely original to him. They're messy as f**k, with ridiculous amounts of blood and gore, full of campy dialogue and even campier stories, but dammit, it works. And it works wonderfully. 

This screencap alone warrants a viewing of the film. 

Total Recall follows the story of Douglas Quaid (Ah-nuld), a regular kind of guy (with huge muscles) that has recurring dreams of missions to mars he knows he's never taken apart of. Trying to find meaning in them, Quaid heads to Total Recall, a company that hooks you up to a machine and sends you on dream vacations and lets you live out all of your wildest fantasies. When Quaid's vacation goes wrong and the machine he's hooked up to malfunctions, he vividly remembers working for a refugee group on Mars, fighting Cohaagan, a rich, greedy "warlord" on the Red Planet, but has plenty of questions that need answering. He decides to head to Mars in an attempt to discover who he really is, but making the trip is much harder than he expected, as he's chased by government officials and Cohaagan's henchmen. Along the way, Quaid meets quite the cast of characters, most as alien as the planet he needs to visit. Total Recall blends this vibrant cast with a fairly original story and so much blood and gore you can't help but love the damn thing. 

I have no idea what the f**k is going on, but I love it so much!

The best part of the film is the special effects. Verhoeven has a reputation for going over-the-top with his violence, yes, but he uses "live" and practical effects to achieve almost everything on screen. It's in this fact that Total Recall shines and becomes more than a 90s action movie that you can just sweep under the rug. Each fight is memorable, with each kill being more crazier than the last. When you have campy dialogue and THE campiest actor alive, you'd just assume that the film will suck. But, these great special effects elevate Total Recall into greatness.


I would highly recommend watching Total Recall. From what I've gathered of the remake, you do not necessarily need to see the original to understand what is going on. However, remake aside, I would recommend Total Recall as a film on its own. I'm not as disappointed with the fact that it's being remade as much as most films, as the story has great potential, but I am weary of the CGI heavy Friday release as the practical effects of the original are what made it so great. Either way, watch Arnold kick ass and spill a lot of blood and keep an eye out for the famous three-breasted lady (who's supposedly in the remake as well). 

The Good:
incredible special effects that remind you practical is superior to computer generated
The Bad:
the slightest hesitance towards the remake, wondering why something so unique needs to be remade
The Ugly:
even with the great aspects of the film, the dialogue is very, very bad (while it adds to its "charm", some lines are still way too laughable)

Overall: 7.6/10


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At August 16, 2012 at 8:19 PM , Blogger Richard Kirkham said...

The reason this works is Arnold. he is such a cartoon in the first place that everything else seems reasonable by comparison. He is not always a good actor but he is a "MOVIE STAR", the kind of personality that needs a big canvas to show off for all the rest of us. The remake fails for the most part because it treats the premise too seriously and it does not have fun with the story.

At August 16, 2012 at 8:28 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Yeah, after seeing the trailers for the new one, I got the feeling it wasn't going to go the campy awesome route. Such a shame. Colin Farrell deserves better and we never needed the remake.


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