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Total Recall: Ultimate Rekall Edition [UK] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (24Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English, French, German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, German
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: 18
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD + Digital Copy)
  • Run time: 103 Mins.
  • Studio: StudioCanal
  • Blu-ray Release Date: July 16, 2012
  • RRP: £24.99

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]

Hollywood seems to keep returning to the novels and short stories of science fiction writer Phillip K. Dick for inspiration, but the writer’s complex themes seem quite elusive most of the time for directors and screenwriters to capture on the big screen. Arguably, the most successful attempt was the first, 1982’s Blade Runner, based on his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The 1990 Arnold Schwarzennegger (The Terminator) vehicle, Total Recall, inspired by Dick’s short “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale” on the other hand, seems less successful at capturing the finer details of Dick’s story and, rather, true to director Paul Verhoeven’s (Starship Troopers; Showgirls; Basic Instinct; RoboCop) style plays like a more straightforward sci-fi actioner.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have some of the philosophical questions inherent in Dick’s work; excising those entirely would leave something entirely unwatchable and unrecognizable. Total Recall does include twists and turns that leave viewers questioning what is real and what is fantasy, and that is the enjoyment of this special effects extravaganza (even despite the usual thud one-liners from “Ahnuld”).

At the crux of the story, which is set in a futuristic world where intra-solar travel is common, is Douglas Quaid (Schwarzenegger), a married construction worker who dreams of taking a vacation to Mars, but his wife (Sharon Stone) is against it. Despite the cautions from his co-worker, Quaid goes to a travel agency, the Rekall agency, where, rather than arranging actual travel, they implant memories of your dream vacation that seem just as real as if they actually occurred. Quaid, who chooses the memories of a vacation to Mars as a spy begins to undergo the procedure, but there is a glitch and he never gets the memories implanted because, as he’s told, he’s already been to Mars. He soon finds himself being hunted down by the powerful head of a mining corporation on Mars who wants him dead before he gets his memories back; it forces him to head to Mars for real – or does it? Is he really living through all of this in the real world, or did the memory implants actually take?

There’s no doubt that Total Recall is full of great, non-stop action and, for its day, excellent visual effects. Outside of the Terminator films, it has to be one of Schwarzenegger’s finest.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Total Recall looks pretty good given its 1990 vintage and 35mm source on this Blu-ray release from StudioCanal. I would say that, at times, it may appear to have had just a little bit of heavy handed DNR applied, but it still manages to retain a detailed appearance most of the time. There’s still some good textural information, but skin textures don’t always look natural, at times looking a bit waxy and smooth (check out the screen capture of Schwazenegger’s face in the Supplemental Materials section below). Black levels are deep with nicely extended details while contrast levels look strong. I see no sign of clipping in the brighter areas. Colors pop nicely, especially the Martian reds.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The soundtrack is provided in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) it doesn’t sound to have been completely remixed to any sort if modern, discrete 5.1 mix, but rather has more of a reprocessed sound about it. There is a low level of ambience in the surround channels and little else. Activity remains across the front with a solid amount of directional panning and rather hefty low frequencies aided by the LFE during explosions.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

Numerous production featurettes are included in both high definition and PAL. They include interviews with the director, cast, and crew. An audio commentary with Schwarzenegger and Verhoeven is also included among other things.

The supplements:

  • Audio Commentary with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Director Paul Verhoeven
  • Interview with Director Paul Verhoeven (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:34:47)
  • Total Recall: The Special Effects (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:23:15)
  • Making of (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:08:03)
  • “Imagining Total Recall” – Featurette (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:30:12)
  • Restoration Comparison (1.85:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:13)
  • Photo Gallery (1080p/24; 00:01:03)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1.85:1; SD/PAL)
  • Accessible via German/French Menus (includes subtitles):
    • Interview with the Film Crew (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:30:12)
    • Interview with M. Hildebrand and G. Mignotte (Kaméléon Studios) Über die Spezialeffekte (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:16:26)
    • Interview with Stéphane Bourgoin (Author, Buchändler, Sci-Fi Expert) (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:09:09)
  • DVD – A standard DVD copy of the release is included.
  • Digital Copy

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

StudioCanal offers up a solid edition of the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi mind-bender, Total Recall, that anyone in Region B areas (or with Region B capabilities) should be happy picking up. The picture quality is rather good for a film of its vintage and even if the special effects don’t quite hold up today, the action still does.

Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]



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