Total Recall

Total Recall is a near-perfect mix of sci-fi action, plot twists, and the kind of warped tongue-in-cheek humor we expect from director Paul Verhoeven, delivered here with gusto by Arnold Schwarzenegger playing Douglas Quaid, a construction worker. More correctly, Schwarzenegger is Carl Hauser, a secret operative for the "Agency" who believes he is Quaid due to a memory implant. After being attacked by agents from the "Agency," Quaid escapes to Mars to aid the rebel independence movement and discover his true identity.

For Total Recall's thirtieth anniversary, Lionsgate has given it a new 4K remaster from the original 35mm negative with Dolby Vison high dynamic range. There is a pleasingly fine layer of film grain throughout, and the picture mostly looks fantastic, with exquisite detail and plenty of vivid HDR highlights. Some scenes suffer from soft focus and a lack of detail, however, especially in the backgrounds. The 1080p image on the bundled regular Blu-ray disc also looks quite good, though it lacks the pop of the bright HDR highlights, particularly in the scenes on Mars that are bathed in the Red Planet's crimson light.


The Dolby Atmos soundtrack on both the Ultra HD and regular Blu-ray disc versions is mostly oriented toward the front speakers and is not as immersive as I would have liked, with somewhat limited use of surround and height effects. There is also a lack of low-frequency punch for such an action-oriented film. For example, when we see Quaid working at a construction site using a jackhammer, or when tunnel-boring machines invade the rebel hideout, there is little of the sub-sonic rumbling you'd expect from a reference-quality soundtrack. Jerry Goldsmith's sweeping score is well-recorded but is also limited mainly to the front channels.


Extras consist mostly of featurettes, including several from previous video releases of the film, and are not particularly memorable with the exception of the commentary track by Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger. While Verhoeven animatedly explains Total Recall's more complicated plot points and its production details, Schwarzenegger eagerly agrees with just about everything he says and points out seemingly obvious facts: "Exactly . . . Here, this is my job. I'm a construction worker." However, Arnold's earnestness and seemingly total commitment to the audio commentary come across as entertaining. A digital copy code is also included in addition to the Ultra HD and standard Blu-ray versions of the film.


STUDIO: StudioCanal/Lionsgate, 1990
HDR FORMAT: Dolby Vision/HDR10
AUDIO FORMAT: Dolby Atmos with TrueHD 7.1 core
LENGTH: 113 mins.
DIRECTOR: Paul Verhoeven
STARRING: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, Michael Ironside