Sunday, May 4, 2008

Total Recall (1990)

Today's featured film is Total Recall (1990), directed by Paul Verhoeven and  starring your favorite action hero, Arnold Schwarzeneggar. Based on the short story by Philip K. Dick, "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale", Total Recall  touched a generation of action junkies and awkward teens. 

Total Recall is what one might consider the perfectly executed amnesia story. Schwarzeneggar plays Douglas Quaid, a construction worker with the sneaking suspicion that he was meant for something greater. The crisis in this hero's paradigm occurs when Quaid suffers from a "schitzoid embolism" which brings back a flurry of erased memories of a past life as a secret agent on Mars. With a little help, Quaid makes his way back to Mars where he eventually joins rebel forces in the struggle against Vilos Cohagen, the man who controls the tirbidium, and therefore, the air on Mars. I don't want to spoil the end, but rest assured, by the end Quaid kills the bad guys, gets the girl, and saves the planet.

I'll admit that my early fascination with this movie was due, at least in part, to the frontal shot of the five-breasted mutant prostitute on Mars. But Total Recall boasts much more than a few extra breasts. Some of the most memorable one-liners of Arnie's career come out of this movie, including "See you at the party, Richter", "Get your ass to Mars", and "Come on baby. You know you're the girl of my dreams", to name a few. And I've never scene the hologram used as effectively anywhere else. 

Now, to be clear, there are some aspects of Total Recall that are completely absurd, particularly so to the unseasoned action fan. There are times when director Verhoeven (also responsible for Robocop and Starship Troopers) must be indulging some kinky fantasies; i.e. hooker midget with a machine gun. And there are times when Arnie's poor acting can only be explained by the size of his biceps...? But the absurdity results in some ingenious characters which, to date, have not been matched. I mean, the the rebel leader is a psychic mutant baby who happens to live in Marshall Bell's stomach. This kind of theatrical device could only have succeeded in the early nineties. And succeed it did.

If you haven't seen this movie, then bump it to the top of your queue. And maybe watch Robocop in the meantime....


Sean Ferrell said...

fantastic hooker midget link. and i love the line about killing the bad guys, saving the planet, etc - almost a direct quote right?
only you didn't mention the best quote of the movie -
"c'mon, dont bullshit me"
auspicious beginnings, and great title for this blog.

Rob said...

dude, check this out

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the old joke -- why are martinis like breasts? One's not enough, and three is too many.

Just to add a favorite scene of my own -- the exploding lady robot head going through airport security was pretty sweet.