Total Recall: Special Edition

Total Recall: Special Edition (1990)
Artisan Entertainment
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Rachel Ticotin, Ronny Cox
Extras: Documentaries, Featurette, Storyboard Comparisons, Galleries, Trailers & TV Spots, Production Notes

In revisiting Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 futuristic epic ’Total Recall, ’ Artisan Home Entertainment pulled out all the stops in their new, truly packed special edition DVD. An excellent transfer, remastered sound and a plethora of supplements including a commentary track by Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger should more than please fans of this opulent but ultra violent space opera.

In the near future, construction worker Doug Quaid (Schwarzenegger) suffers recurring nightmares about Mars. Convinced that some answers await him, Quaid takes an interstellar vacation on the now-colonized Red Planet to hopefully exorcise his nocturnal demons for good. Rest and relaxation soon turn to a fight for his life, when Quaid starts to ’remember’ his past, a past involving unscrupulous planetary administrator Cohaagen (Ronny Cox) and his dictatorial methods. Now hunted by Cohaagen’s special forces, Quaid stumbles upon an ancient Martian mystery that could affect the future evolution of the planet…and all the transplanted inhabitants.

The 1.85 anamorphic transfer is stunning. Colors are accurate, constant and vibrant. Deep blacks and superb detail delineation make for an exceptionally crisp image. Even in scenes with complex special effects, the picture is completely smooth, stable and free of grain. The source print shows no blemishes as well as no digital or compression artifacts.

The remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is very aggressive, with a wide front soundstage, active surrounds and window-cracking LFE at the necessary action moments. Even Jerry Goldsmith’s pulsing score gets some low-end punch. Dialogue sounds well integrated. The 5.1 audio sounds like a genuine remix, rather than simply sprinkling in some discrete sound effects and cranking up the bass. A two-channel Dolby Surround audio option is also included, but if you have 5.1 capability, stick with the discrete soundtrack.

The special features parade is led by a feature-length commentary by director Verhoeven and star Schwarzenegger. Unfortunately, both too often lapse into the ’let’s-rehash-what-we’re-watching’ mode. Two specially produced documentaries focus on the production (which includes new interviews with Schwarzenegger, Verhoeven, producer Ronald Shusett, composer Jerry Goldsmith and effects supervisor Eric Brevig) and a more scientific look at the reality behind Mars colonization. Storyboard comparisons, a concept art and still gallery, theatrical trailers and TV spots give a thorough look at how the film was designed, photographed and marketed.

While I am not a huge fan of the film, there is no mistaking Artisan mounted a lavish DVD edition. As a gimmick, the disc is housed in a red circular tin, brandishing Martian craters and even a ’face.’ Keeping it from rolling out of its library slot has proved the most challenging facet of the DVD.