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Pure Ahhhrrnold at his best

  • Jul 16, 2009
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It's easy to forget these days, in the times of Governor Schwarzenegger sending IOUs to Californians, that there was a period when Arnold owned the movie industry. At the height of his fame audiences would flock to whatever he was in whether it was A-class, like The Terminator, or utter nonsense such as Raw Deal. And yes, in his fading years the audiences weren't showing up for Jingle All the Way, Eraser, End of Days, etc. but those were the bitter cynical years of the late 1990s, and they'd tried to make sense of the utter absurdity.

Anyway, Terminator aside, Total Recall features pure Ahhrnold with all the bells and whistles, including:
  • Muscles: there's a scene where he's a construction worker. Using a jack hammer. Held with biceps bulging. Despite the fact this is supposed to be 2084 and you'd think they have machines to do this. Hell, we even have machines and it's only 2009. Clearly, machine muscles aren't nearly as interesting, and it was probably in his contract.
  • Great dialog: despite the absence of "I'll be back", it's littered with one-line classics. "Get your ass to Mars" should have had T-shirts and a whole life of its own. "Consider that a divorce" - after shooting his wife in the head. In the head! And of course none of these lines works without the Arrrhhnnold accent.
  • Triple-digit body counts: Arrhnold is, quite simply, a one man slaughterhouse. As in other films, the baddies were given shooting lessons by the A-Team and couldn't hit a tanker with a mini gun at point-blank range. I lost count of just how funerals were made premature by the world's favorite Austrian, but - seriously - he makes most serial killiers look like amateur jaywalkers.
These facts alone would probably lead to a rating of 'average' but there are some extras in Total Recall that make it a classic.

First and foremost, Paul Verhoeven just loves violence and it's caked on layer after layer. There's a scene on an escalator in which an innocent bystander is used as a human shield from baddies with uzis. A human shield! Unfortunately for the bystander, this is the only time the bad guys are accurate with their shooting and every round is a kill shot: the actor must have had endless blood bags and squibs attached to his body. As if several hundred rounds wasn't enough, after blood gets sprayed across the camera lens in a Dawn of the Dead moment, his bloody lifeless corpse is flung down the stairs. The censors basically had a conniption when they saw this. It's likely that nothing on film will ever be more needlessly violent that this 10 second scene.

Otherwise, the make-up and prosthetics are first class. It was made just in the time before CGI made makeup largely redundant and everything Rob Bottin did on the film still looks great. Kuato ("start the reactor!") is a great puppet, and even the depressurizing heads have aged surprisingly well. Michael Ironside is always great value, and Ronny Cox (who is actually a very nice guy who spends his free time playing folk music around the country) takes his bad corporate guy in Robocop and puts him on steroids for a repeat performance. Great Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack, slightly abiguous ending, and a total disregard for the original Philip K Dick story. This, ladies and gentlemen, was the last great 1980s action film.

PS - Ronny Cox is playing in Anaheim at the community center next May if anyone's interested. Nice guy.

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July 27, 2009
It may have diregarded the Dick story but the ambiguity of the ending kept us wondering what was reality and what wasn't which sort of kept it true to Dick in that sense. Ya gotta love this movie. Nice work on the review. One of Sharon Stone's best flix.
July 27, 2009
Thanks - I agree on both counts. It's scary to think how many times I've seen this film...
July 27, 2009
I own it too. It does its duty when called upon.
July 27, 2009
"You have to give these people air!" :-)
July 27, 2009
More Total Recall reviews
review by . December 01, 2009
Doblas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) decides to take a virtual vacation of a trip to Mars. However things go wrong with his "vacation," and he decides to head to Mars for real. Or does he?      Total Recall is a futuristic action movie filled with assassins, mutants, and a story that will make your brain explode trying to discern what is real, and what isn't.      Total Recall was directed by Paul Verhoeven and based off the Philip K. Dick short …
review by . December 10, 2008
Just writing a review for this movie is making me crack up. My mother and I quote lines from this movie at least 10 times during any discourse. For you see, this is perhaps Schwarzenegger's best movie if you don't take it all that seriously.     I won't get into the details of the plot (Wikipedia does a good job in that field), but I can say that any film that casts Schwarzenegger in the future on another planet that contains women with three boobs (yes, it's in the movie!) is …
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James Beswick ()
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Total Recall, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, takes place in the year 2084. The film is loosely based on Philip K. Dick's novelette "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale." Schwarzenegger plays the role of Douglas Quaid, a construction worker who desires to "visit" Mars by having the memories implanted in his brain. During the procedure, Quaid begins to behave violently, the result of a previous, failed implant procedure. Quaid is then sent home but realizes that he must reconstruct his own existence as he encounters clues and countless individuals from his past.
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