Total Recall (Mind-Bending Edition) Blu-Ray Review

Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi classic Total Recall comes to Blu-Ray with a brand new director’s approved video transfer, plus a near-perfect audio track and tons of bonus material. This is the best version of the 1990 classic and it is a must own for fans of the film and fans of the science fiction genre. Arnold Schwarzenegger leads this action-packed and ultra-violent film with a performance that rivals some of his best work. Total Recall remains one of Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger’s best films and it is only fitting that Lionsgate gives is the absolute best treatment on Blu-Ray.

Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is living an unfulfilled life. His beautiful wife (played by Sharon Stone) and reliable job just doesn’t add up to him, plus he constantly dreams about a mystery girl on Mars. He’s not sure why he dreams of the red planet, because he’s never gone there and he doesn’t recognize the girl at all. Still, against his better judgment he goes to a clinic that implants memories and injects himself with a spy story on Mars with a hot girl at his side.

Before the treatment is complete he wakes up and becomes unstable. The dream was never implanted, yet he now has knowledge of another life. Quaid soon finds out that he’s an agent and that the life he thinks he’s living is a complete lie. This tangle of events leads to him eventually going back to Mars to find out the truth about himself. He does this in a violent fashion, while being chased by dozens of henchmen, who he shoots up into a bloody mess that is graphically depicted thanks to director Paul Verhoeven.

Total Recall to this day remains a sci-fi classic and one of Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger’s best films. Verhoeven is known for his over-the-top violence and satire and Total Recall fits those measurements, much like RoboCop, which is another one of his classics that’s getting the reboot treatment. Verhoeven approaches Total Recall with that even balance of silly and serious, both never overstaying their welcome and both providing the viewer with plenty of action and entertainment.

I love Verhoeven’s violence, because it’s so unrelenting and raw. It’s never showy or stylized to the point of assaulting the viewer, instead he focuses on massive bullet holes to the chest and face, with gracious amounts of blood to surely follow. He toys with the idea of Quaid being awake or asleep throughout the entire film, but that never really outdoes the pure fun that he and star Schwarzenegger have. I wouldn’t call Total Recall a thinker or a smart film, but it’s far from dumb, because Verhoeven knows exactly what he’s doing behind the camera.

Schwarzenegger plays it simple as Quaid, but he does allow room for his character to grow as an unintentional comedic element of the film. I’m not sure what his original intentions were when filming Total Recall, but I sure had a blast with all of those cheesy one-liners and constant tonal changes between dead serious and just flat out goofy. Schwarzenegger is a pro and a physical force that you clearly don’t want to mess with, which makes his performance a shining star among many of his failed attempts down the road.

Total Recall isn’t as iconic or groundbreaking as the original Terminator, but it does push the envelope in terms of practical special effects and how much actual violence you can throw on the screen. It doesn’t reach the level of brutality that Verhoeven’s RoboCop reached with its NC-17 rating, but there’s plenty of eye-popping (literally) visuals, not to mention the three-boobed hooker.

Watching this re-release might hurt the Colin Farrell remake that’s due out in theaters on Friday, because this is only a reminder of how timeless and dare I say perfect (in some aspects) Verhoeven’s Total Recall really is.

Lionsgate brings Total Recall back to Blu-Ray with a new director’s approved 1080p video transfer that makes the film come to life like never before. The original release was acceptable, especially for the time period of the film and of the Blu-Ray format itself, but this new release is remarkable. Contrast and detail is stronger than even and yet there’s still a natural layer of intentional grain kept intact. The film is soaked full of red and orange tints, but not once does that get in the way of this exceeding transfer.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is also a major upgrade from the previous release, which had a Dolby Digital 5.1 Mix and a DTS-HD ES 6.1 track. There’s so much more range in this track that helps open up the set and let the gunfire and action spill out of the channels. You’ll instantly notice the activity increase in the back channels when comparing to the previous release. The mix is much finer, with most of the audio sounding like someone ran a comb through the entire track, separating the sound effects from the actual dialogue and action.

The disc is loaded compared to the barebones release that came before it, yet there’s still a few features from the special edition DVD that are nowhere to be found. Here’s a full list of features:

  • Audio Commentary with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Director Paul Verhoeven
  • Interview with Director Paul Verhoeven (HD)
  • Making Of Featurette (SD)
  • Models and Skeletons: The Special Effects of Total Recall (HD)
  • Trailer (SD)
  • Imagining Total Recall Documentary (SD)
  • Restoration Comparison (HD)
  • Photo Gallery (HD)

If you consider yourself a Total Recall fan then you’re going to want to go out and buy the Mind-Bending Edition immediately, because the director approved video transfer is spotless and makes for a perfect companion when paired up with the 5.1 lossless audio track. The disc is loaded with both new and old bonus content too.

Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall is a sci-fi gem that has aged very well and still holds up against some of the finest science fiction out there. It’s bloody in the most Verhoeven sense and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Quaid is the epitome of badass. The Mind-Bending Edition is simply a must own because of the time and effort put into the transfer by Lionsgate and because the film is a staple of sci-fi and 90’s action. This one comes highly recommended.

Total Recall (Mind-Bending Edition) Blu-Ray Review

Paul Verhoeven's sci-fi classic Total Recall holds up very well, even against some of today's sci-fi standards. The film remains one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's best and this newly remastered Mind-Bending Edition is a worthy upgrade from the previous release.

About the author


Jeremy Lebens

I'm an avid watcher of films and I just love discussing and sharing them with the world. I enjoy horror, sci-fi and mostly any genre under the sun, plus I have a slight obsession with Blu-ray's and the whole high definition craze.