DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Total Recall, Blu-ray (1990)

An interesting futuristic storyline, well-designed pre-CGI special effects, and classic Schwarzenegger action and dialogue.

Published on May 5, 2007

Total Recall,  Blu-ray (1990)
Total Recall,  Blu-ray (1990)

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox
Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
Studio: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Video: 2.35:1 Enhanced for 16:9 Widescreen, 1080p HD
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX, DTS HD High Resolution ES Surround
Subtitles: English
Supplements: “Vision of Mars” featurette
Length: 113 minutes
Movie Rating: ****  AV Quality Rating: ****

Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) does not understand why he has been continually dreaming of the planet Mars.  When he purchases a virtual Mars vacation from a company named Rekall Inc., the memory implantation process apparently goes wrong as thereafter Quaid begins to experience memories of being a secret agent fighting an evil Mars administrator.  He finds that even his supposed wife (Sharon Stone) is a plant trying to get him to forget Mars and stay in his hard labor job on Earth. Chased by the baddies, Quaid travels to Mars and quickly finds himself in the middle of a war between rebellious mutants and a dictator in charge of the planet’s air supply.  Quaid must then determine whether this war is indeed reality or merely a part of his virtual vacation.

“Total Recall” is among my favorite Schwarzenegger films (along with “True Lies” and the “Terminator” trilogy).  The film has an interesting futuristic storyline, well-designed pre-CGI special effects, and classic Schwarzenegger action and dialogue.  Highly recommended as a purchase for those who do not yet own the special-edition standard DVD release of “Total Recall”, and a judgment call for those who do, as this Blu-ray DVD is missing several supplements (including the Schwarzenegger commentary track), but does sport a clearly superior video presentation.

In terms of HD video quality, this Blu-ray DVD is very good.  Images have a slightly soft appearance but otherwise have decent detail and uniform blacks. There is good detail in black portions of the image. Colors are deep and accurate with well-saturated hues.  Other than the occasional speckle, picture defect mastering is respectable with no major flaws or compression problems.  The audio quality is also very good with the DTS HD High Resolution ES track serving as the basis for this review.   The soundtrack does a nice job of utilizing all of the discrete channels to create a spacious yet balanced mix.  Dialogue is clean and natural sounding.  The surround channels are consistently utilized for both the sound effects and the music soundtrack.  When chase sequences pass thru different corridors and tunnels on Mars, the acoustics change appropriately.The low frequency effects channel is active throughout and is, at times, explosive.  My only complaint about the audio would be that the inclusion of an uncompressed PCM or lossless audio track would have made for an even stronger release.

[This is also my favorite Schwarzenegger film and I have the special edition which comes in a metal can replicating the planet Mars. The Blu-ray is undoubtedly quite a step up in resolution and greater soundtrack clarity. I had forgotten just how violent “Total Recall” was; it’s not for the faint-hearted!  Do I miss the continuous Schwarzenegger commentary track with the Blu-ray version? In a word, no.  And if I ever want it I still have the old canned version so he can Be Back…Ed.]

– Calvin Harding Jr.


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