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Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 15, 2012 by  



“Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut” is one of the most beautiful looking sci-fi films on Blu-ray in 2012, looks great, sounds magnificent and a good number of special features are included.  But for anyone looking for something deep or thought-provoking, this is not the film.  This is a film for those who love popcorn action films and beautiful sci-fi visual effects.  And if you are that type of viewer, then “Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut” is a Blu-ray release that I can easily recommend to you!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut

FILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 118 Minutes/Extended Director’s Cut: 130 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English – Audio Description Track, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital,  Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: UNRATED for Extended Director’s Cut / PG-13 (Intense Sequences of Sci-Fi Violence and Action, Some Sexual Content, Brief Nudity and Language)

Release Date: December 18, 2012

Directed by Len Wiseman

Screenplay by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback

Screen Story by Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, Jon Povill, Kirt Wimmer

Based on the Short Story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick

Produced by Toby Jaffe, Neal H. Moritz

Executive Producer: Ric Kidney, Len Wiseman

Associate Producer: Paula Kucharski

Music by Harry Gregson-Williams

Cinematography by Paul Cameron

Edited by Christian Wagner

Casting by Debra Zane

Production Design by Patrick Tatopoulos

Art Direction by Patrick Banister, Oana Bogdan, Brandt Gordon

Set Decoration by Carolyn “Cal” Loucks

Costume Design by Sanja Milkovic Hays

Starring:

Colin Farrell as Douglas Quaid/Carl Hauser

Kate Beckinsale as Lori Quaid

Jessica Biel as Melina

Bryan Cranston as Cohaagen

Bokeem Woodbine as Harry

Bill Nighy as Matthias

John Cho as McClane

Wil Yun Lee as Marek

Dylan Smith as Hammond

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.

From Len Wiseman (director of the “Underworld” films, “Live Free or Die Hard”) comes a remake of the the 1990 film of the same name and based on the 1966 short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” by Philip K.Dick.

With the original 1990 film directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin becoming a box office success and receiving praise from film critics for its complexity as a sci-fi film, for its remake, the film was to be more of an adaptation of the original short story but instead became more of action film with beautiful, modern visual effects.

The film made over $198 million in the box office during the summer of 2012 and now, will be released on Blu-ray which will include both the theatrical version and the extended director’s cut.

“Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut” takes place after World War 3 had devastated the Earth to the point that the only habitable territories is the United Federation of Britain (UFB) and the Colony (Australia).  Many people from the Colony work in UFB in factories traveling on a gravity elevator (known as “The Fall”).  But because the UFB is ran through oppression courtesy of its UFB Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen (portrayed by Bryan Cranstone), a resistance group n the Colony that operates in the UFB are engaged in acts of terrorism against the UFB in order to improve life for the Colony.

The film begins with special agent Carl Hauser (portrayed by Colin Farrell) and his girlfriend Melina (portrayed by Jessica Biel) running away from UFB soldiers.  While the two are trying to escape, a shot goes through both of their hands and while Melina has a chance to escape, Hauser is captured by the UFB and tells Melina that he will find a way to come back to her.

Fastforward and we see Hauser now known as Douglas Quaid working in the factories.  He’s married to a police officer named Lori (portrayed by Kate Beckinsale) and Douglas works hard for the factory and hopes to get a promotion.  Meanwhile, each night, he has these dreams of a woman who he doesn’t know and it bothers him.  Meanwhile, bombings in the city of UFB are happening more and more and people are starting to fear of the resistance from the Colony.

Meanwhile, Quaid who is getting tired of his ho-hum life wants to visit a Rekall, a company that implants artificial memories.  An employee recommends he visit McClaine (portrayed by John Cho) and sure enough, Quaid goes by and when discussing the kind of memories he can have, McClaine talks about how Quaid can be a secret-agent.  Like how that sounds, Quaid is ready to be implanted with the new memories.  But as he is being checked, McClaine realizes that Quaid is a spy.  Not knowing what McClaine is talking about, the next thing you know, UFB officers raid the Rekall lab and kills everyone in sight, except Quaid.

Quaid who is scared of his life grabs one of the guns and surprisingly, kills nearly a dozen soldiers with ease.  Quaid is shocked about how he has this ability and manages to escape from more soldiers who come to capture him.

As the news of the death of the UFB soldiers are being blamed by the resistance, Quaid tells his wife Lori that he killed the soldiers.  But Lori tells him that he probably was implanted with fake memories from Rekall and quickly goes to give him a hug.  But while the two are embracing, Lori tries to kill him and a fight between the two ensues.

Lori explains to Quaid that she is a UFB operative who was sent to be his wife six weeks ago.  But Quaid tells her how can that be when they have been married for 15 years, but Lori explains it was an artificial memory implanted in him.  And she was hired to be his wife and watch over him.  And now, to kill him.

As Quaid and Lori fight, he manages to escape.   Lori dispatches UFB soldiers to kill Quaid, despite her boss, UFB Chancelor Cohaagen telling her to keep him alive.  But while on the run, he receives a call from a man named Hammond (portrayed by Dylan Smith), a Colony supporter working inside the UFB, who tells him that he is on the grid and that he received a message from him before his mind was wiped out and that it was coordinates to safe deposit box.

When Quaid goes to the box, it is equipped with passports and a neck-based device that allows him to change his facial features.  And also a message that he must go to his old apartment.

Not really sure what to do next, he follows the instruction knowing the UFB are after him.  While going to station in hopes to go back home, his device that changes his facial features goes on the fritz and once again, another chase between the UFB and him ensues.

He manages to escape in a freeway for air vehicles and is picked up by Melina, the woman that is in his dreams.  Immediately the two are chased by Lori and the UFB and once again, Quaid barely manages to escape.

But memories are starting to come back and his dreams of playing a piano, leads him to a piano in his apartment which he begins playing with no problems.  But it also activates a message left behind by Carl Hauser, explaining to Quaid that he is a special agent working with the Colony and they uncovered Cohaagen’s plot to create a robotic army to infiltrate the Colony, since the UFB is running out of space.  And Hauser saw a code that would deactivate the robotic army.  But he must get the code to the Resistance leader named Matthias (portrayed by Bill Nighy).

Melina then tells Quaid that she and him were lovers and explains how they were separated and both have a scar where they were both shot through the hand.  For Quaid, it’s hard to believe he was a special agent and all this news is a shock to him and learning that his memories that he has are all fake.

Unfortunately, the reunion between Hauser and Melina is short as Lori and the UFB once again, have their plans to eliminate the two.

Will Hauser and Melina find a way to get the message and code to resistance leader, Matthias?  Or will Lori and the UFB get to them first?

VIDEO:

“Total Recall” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio) and while the film is primarily all visual effects and great use of green screen, on Blu-ray this film looks magnificent.  If anything, I guess the best word to describe the picture quality is “perfect”.  Detail is amazing, the film looks natural, close-up shots are impressive and I’m just impressed of how awesome the environments look.  Black levels are nice and deep, no sign of banding, artifacts, aliasing or anything negative.  “Total Recall” looks magnificent in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

And as one expects from a big budget film when it comes to picture quality, lossless audio doesn’t disappoint at all.  Presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital and an English Audio Description Track, the lossless soundtrack to “Total Recall” is immersive and an audiophile’s dream.  With so much action featured in the film, directional audio of shootouts come from all over the soundscape and is truly immersive.  Ambiance of the city and crowds are also clear and the booms, crashes and bullets striking objects and the overall chaos that happens within the city, great LFE and great use of the surround channels!  Dialogue and music is crystal clear from the front and center channels and the film sounds absolutely dynamic.  “Total Recall” features a fantastic lossless soundtrack!  There is nothing negative about it!  Like the picture quality, the lossless soundtrack is perfect!

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut” comes with the following special features on two Blu-ray discs:

  • Total Recall with Insight – While watching the film you will get a split screen that shows how the film was made, behind-the-scenes featurettes, art concept sketches, trivia and more!  Only featured when watching the theatrical cut.
  • Director’s Commentary – Featuring  a very informative audio commentary by director Len Wiseman.  For those who want to learn more about Wiseman’s mindset and challenges on making this film, will want to listen to this audio commentary.
  • Gag Reel– (8:00) Outtakes from “Total Recall”.
  • Science Fiction vs. Science Fact – (9:28) Michio Kaku, a professor of Theoretical Physics and Author of “Physics of the future” talk about the future of robots, holograms, flying vehicles and the science of “The Fall”.
  • Designing the Fall – (2:55) A featurette on the film’s set and visual scenes for “The Fall”.
  • Colin Farrell- (3:33) A featurette on the film’s lead actor.
  • The Tripping Den– (3:18) A short featurette on the making of one of the main action sequences in the film.
  • Destroying Rekall – (2:24) The making of the scene of the destruction of the Rekall Lab.
  • Kate Beckinsale – (9:42) A featurette about Kate Beckinsale and her character Lori.
  • Lobby Escape – (1:22) A very short featurette on the making of the key action sequence.
  • Jessica Biel – (3:38) A short featurette on actress Jessica Biel and her character Melina.
  • Quaid vs. Cohaagen – (3:05) A featurette about the final fighting sequence featuring Colin Farrell and Bryan Cranston’s characters.
  • Stepping Into Recall: Pre-Visualization Sequences – Featuring five motion storyboards: Apartment Waterfront Chase (157), The Fall Fight (11:13), Flight and Tripping Den (4:46), Elevator chase (4:34) and Car Chase (3:27)

EXTRAS:

“Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut” comes with an UltraViolet code which allows you to download the movie to your computer and select Apple and Android devices and stream to computers, tables or smartphones.  Also, included is a slipcover case and both extended and director’s cut versions of the film with an extra Blu-ray disc containing the special features.  Also, a video game demo for “God of War: Ascension” for the Sony PS3 is included.

I’m quite aware of the criticism “Total Recall” had received, especially when compared to the 1990 film version.  But in someway, I give credit to Len Wiseman for taking on a sci-fi film which the original has its own cult following.  The question was how was he going to make things different.

Giving credit to the 1990 Paul Verhoeven film, it was during a time when people were craving something new and unique.  Top films of the year were “Ghost”, “Home Alone”, “Pretty Woman”, “Dances with Wolves” and for sci-fi films, it was pretty much “Total Recall” and “Back to the Future III”.  With “Total Recall”, the film relied on plot, creativity and for its time, it was unique, humorous and imaginative.  People loved the originality with the film and for the 2012 film, aside from using modern visual effects, it’s not going to be easy to create a better film, when the original film was so well-liked!

My approach to this 2012 version was a film created for today’s generation, using the latest in CG visual effects and creating a sci-fi world that would look even more fantastic and amazing than the original film.  And for the most part, I feel that Len Wiseman and crew did accomplish that.

But one of the strong points of the original film was its plot and humor, this time around, “Total Recall” is more of a popcorn action film and it seems that for today’s cinema, it’s something that audiences continue to come out for and enjoy and move-on.  When I think about this film, the original 1990 film made you want to watch it again and over 20-years-later, I have watched the 1990 version of “Total Recall” on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray a good number of times.

And with the original 1990 film, it maintained some semblance to the original short story that it takes place on Mars.  This new film, there is nothing about Mars at all, nor are their aliens.  The original was darker, bloodier but that’s what makes the 1990 version a sci-fi classic.  The 2012 version doesn’t try to be anything like the original, it doesn’t want to be an exact remake and I like that.  I tend to dislike remakes of older films but if they can maintain some semblance to the original but yet be something different, I’m all for it.

We have seen remakes or reboots with films such as “Hulk”, “Spider-Man”,  “Superman”, “Karate Kid” and the list goes on and on.

But with “Total Recall”, the original was a sci-fi film was dark comedy elements, this 2012 version is a visual effects-driven, popcorn action sci-fi film.   In my opinion, two different types of films.

And for those who feel that the 2012 version was dumbed down to be too action-driven, well, if you followed Len Wiseman’s films, as a director or producer, the “Underworld” films have been like that and even his earlier film “Live Free or Die Hard” has been like that.  The fact is that Wiseman is a director who was hired to take on this film because of his experience in action-films.  And for today’s audiences who are exposed to video games that tend to be more eye candy and short on plot, a lot of action films seem to be that way and today’s audiences are digging it.

Personally, with director Len Wiseman and the casting of Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale, I pretty much expected an action film and nothing to deep or thought-provoking.  So, I came out watching this film with no negative feelings, whatsoever.  I got what I expected and maybe even more with the stunning beautiful visual effects and the outstanding picture quality and lossless audio on Blu-ray.

What I enjoyed about this 2012 Blu-ray release is that you get both the theatrical and extended director’s cut edition.  And for those who really want to get into the mindset of the challenges that Len Wiseman faced as a director, the audio commentary included with this Blu-ray release is worth listening to!  In fact, there are a good number of special features included on this Blu-ray release, although a good number of them are quite short.

Regardless, there’s nothing to be angry or spiteful to this film because the original 1990 version is out on Blu-ray.  I look at this as a film tailored to today’s audiences who want more action, more visual effects. And that’s what the audience is getting.  So, if you enjoyed the original, there is a Blu-ray release for the Paul Verhoeven film available.

Overall, “Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut” is one of the most beautiful looking sci-fi films on Blu-ray in 2012, looks great, sounds magnificent and a good number of special features are included.  But for anyone looking for something deep or thought-provoking, this is not that type of film.  This is a film for those who love popcorn action films and beautiful sci-fi visual effects.  And if you are that type of viewer, then “Total Recall: Extended Director’s Cut” is a Blu-ray release that I can easily recommend to you!

 






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