Better than Streaming: John Carpenter’s The Thing 4K Blu-ray combo coming out on September 7, 2021

Calling all fans of director John Carpenter and star Kurt Russell as well as Blu-ray collectors fond of science fiction and horror films!

Get ready because Carpenter’s classic sci-fi horror film The Thing (1982) will be released in 4K Blu-ray format (in a combo including the Blu-ray disc and digital code) on September 7, 2021. In addition, those who insist on having the best 4K visuals with the classic movie will be delighted over the early confirmation that The Thing has been rendered in native 4K.

The cover of The Thing 4K Blu-ray combo.

As of this writing, there is no suggested retail price yet. Still, here are the product descriptions and specs from Blu-ray.com’s articles about The Thing 4K Blu-ray. Some parts in boldface…

SPECS

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)

HDR: HDR10

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Audio

English: DTS:X

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1

Subtitles

English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Discs

4K Ultra HD

Blu-ray Disc

Two-disc set (1 BD-100, 1 BD-50)

Digital

Digital 4K

Digital copy included

Playback

4K Blu-ray: Region free

2K Blu-ray: Region A

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

DISC ONE – 4K BLU-RAY

  • 4K RESTORATION OF THE FILM FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE
  • HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
  • DTS:X AUDIO TRACK
  • Audio Commentary with Director John Carpenter and Kurt Russell
  • John Carpenter’s The Thing: Terror Takes Shape
  • Outtakes
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles for the main feature

DISC TWO – BLU-RAY

  • Main feature
  • Audio Commentary with Director John Carpenter and Kurt Russell
  • U-Control: Picture in Picture
  • Optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles for the main feature

For those who are not too aware about this old sci-fi horror movie, The Thing tells the story of an American research team stationed in Antarctica whose lives turn upside-down after a sled dog comes to them after being hunted by a helicopter from the Norwegian research team.

Historically speaking, The Thing was released in cinemas in the United States just two weeks after Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The Carpenter-directed space alien monster film was trashed by movie critics of the time and in the American box office, Spielberg’s movie about a friendly alien creature from outer space was simply unbeatable. As time passed by, The Thing found its audience on TV and home video and its critical reception turned from negative to positive overall. In the awards circuit, The Thing was nominated for Best Horror Film and Best Special Effects (credit to Rob Bottin who went on to work on effects for RoboCop and Total Recall) in the 10th annual Saturn Awards given by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Fans of actor Keith David will want to see his performance in this particular film. David also went on to work again with John Carpenter years later.

To get to know more about John Carpenter’s The Thing through trivia, watch the video posted below from Minty Comedic Arts. Be warned of potential spoilers…

For more entries of my Better than Streaming series of articles, check out my pieces on The Beastmaster 4K Blu-ray, The Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-ray, Mortal Kombat 2021 4K Blu-ray, Space Jam 4K Blu-ray and V: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray disc of Warner Archive (read my retro review).  

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Better than Streaming: Godzilla vs. Kong and In the Line of Fire 4K Blu-ray releases coming out this June!

Welcome to this new series of articles titled Better than Streaming. As many of you, my readers, already know, I am not fan of streaming when it comes to watching movies and TV shows in the comfort of home. My current preference for such home entertainment is the Blu-ray disc format as well as its high-end format the 4K Blu-ray disc! I simply want the best for my personal viewing of movies and TV shows, and the advantages of disc media (specifically 4K Blu-ray) over streaming are clear and undeniable!

I personally own a lot of movies on Blu-ray and I own one Blu-ray disc of V: The Original Miniseries (which is so enjoyable and this time it was presented in high-definition). I recently started building up my personal collection of 4K Blu-ray releases with Total Recall and Wonder Woman 1984.

For this article, we can focus on two notable movies – one new and one old – that will be released on 4K Blu-ray in the middle of June 2021!

Let’s start with Godzilla vs. Kong, the 2021 pandemic-era blockbuster which will be released on 4K Blu-ray disc (plus Blu-ray for 1080p viewing) on June 15, 2021. Pre-orders for the 4K Blu-ray release can be done right here.

The Godzilla vs. Kong 4K Blu-ray combo preview.

As of this writing, Godzilla vs. Kong in optic media will come with the following technical specs and special features:

  • ENGLISH DOLBY ATMOS AUDIO TRACK
  • Audio Commentary by Director, Adam Wingard
  • Kong Discovers Hollow Earth
  • Kong Leaves Home
  • Behold Kong’s Temple
  • The Evolution of Kong, Eighth Wonder of the World
  • Godzilla Attacks
  • The Phenomenon of GŌJIRA, King of the Monsters
  • Round One: Battle at Sea
  • Round Two: One Will Fall
  • Titan Tag Team: The God and the King
  • The Rise of MechaGodzilla
  • Optional English SDH, Latin Spanish, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian-SDH, Cantonese, Complex Chinese, Korean, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish subtitles for the main feature

Video
Codec: HEVC / H.265
Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10+
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Because the movie theaters here in my place remain closed due to the COVID-19 (China Virus) pandemic, I was not able to watch Godzilla vs. Kong. Along the way, I stayed away from streaming it via HBO Go because I’d rather pay for the best home viewing option which is the 4K Blu-ray release of the movie that is coming. Oh yes, Godzilla vs. Kong’s visuals have been rendered in native 4K (2160p).

The next upcoming 4K Blu-ray release that is worth looking forward to is none other than In the Line of Fire which starred the legendary Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich (who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in this very movie) and Rene Russo. It will be released also on June 15, 2021 and you can order it in advance right here.

The cover of the 4K Blu-ray release of In the Line of Fire.

For your reference, here are the available technical specs and features…

  • NEWLY REMASTERED IN 4K FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE WITH HDR10
  • ALL-NEW DOLBY ATMOS TRACK + original theatrical 5.1 + original theatrical stereo
  • Audio Commentary with Wolfgang Petersen
  • 5 Deleted Scenes
  • “The Ultimate Sacrifice” Featurette
  • “Catching the Counterfeiters” Featurette
  • “How’d They Do That” Featurette
  • “Behind the Scenes with the Secret Service” Featurette
  • Theatrical Teaser

Video
Codec: HEVC / H.265
Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)
HDR: HDR10
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

I saw In the Line of Fire on video tape in 1993 and on DVD in 2001. I would love to replay the movie with native 4K visuals and see how good the promised new remaster for the 4K Blu-ray will turn out. In pop culture, In the Line of Fire was kind of like a reintroduction of Clint Eastwood to the public and helped younger moviegoers in 1993 (especially those who missed out on his Dirty Harry and cowboy movies) get to know him and his cinematic art better. In the Line of Fire was directed by Wolfgang Petersen and apart from getting solid performances from the cast, he successfully told a compelling story and presented really good hard-action scenes.

So there you have it! June 15, 2021 will be an exciting day for 4K Blu-ray enthusiasts as well as those who love King Kong, Godzilla and Clint Eastwood! While there are indeed a lot of other movies coming out on 4K Blu-ray in the month of June, Kong vs. Godzilla and In the Line of Fire are the standouts for those who love spectacle.

Before I end this article, let me ask you readers – Do you have a large collection of 4K Blu-ray movies right now? What do you enjoy most about watching movies or TV shows in 4K resolution? What is the one movie or TV show you wish will be released soon on 4K Blu-ray format?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Terminator 2: Cybernetic Dawn #1 (1995)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Like any geek, I still love watching Terminator 2: Judgment Day, specifically its extended version which was James Cameron’s true vision. I’m not exactly a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I really love his work in T2 as well as in Total Recall. When it comes to James Cameron’s works, I personally prefer T2 over Avatar, Titanic and True Lies.

As for the Terminator franchise itself, it spawned cinematic sequels that only turned up as disappointments. Terminator 2 was indeed the high point of the film franchise and everything really went downhill afterwards. I should state that Terminator: Dark Fate should be avoided as it is not worth your time and money.

Recently, I searched for some comic books that served as sequels to Terminator 2 and I found one from the mid-1990s and it is a direct follow-up! We can find out more in this look back at Terminator 2: Cybernetic Dawn #1, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Dan Abnett and Rod Whigham.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins immediately after the end of Terminator 2 with the injured Sarah Connor (with a very exhausted John Connor sleeping) still managing to drive the car in the middle of the night. As she drives, Sarah recalled that she never asked for the responsibility of preserving mankind as it was forced on her way back in 1984. She also recalled the time in Tech Noir when the Terminator almost killed her as she got saved by Kyle Reese.

By morning, Sarah and John reached the desert and returned to the lonely home of her old ally Enrique. Suddenly a man with a shotgun comes out and aims his weapon directly at Sarah. Carrying a gun, John comes out to help his mother…

Quality

John and Sarah Connor.

Let me start with the story and make clear to you readers that this comic book easily defies the conclusion that was set in the movie Terminator 2. If you have seen the film, you should be aware that the way it was concluded made sure there is no more future war and no more Terminators. Like the 2003 movie Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, this comic book just kept on pushing the concept that Judgement Day and the war with the machines are still inevitable and that Terminators from the future would only continue to arrive to hunt and kill John. As such, the hard struggle for Sarah and her son continues.

That being said, this comic book really pushed hard with its sequel approach. Remember what happened in the steel mill in Terminator 2? Several personnel investigated the facility and one particular detective arrived searching for Sarah Connor who has been labeled as an escapee from the state hospital. Inside the steel mill is the severed left arm of the Terminator (which got stuck to crushing mechanical wheels as seen in the 1991 movie) which is the storytelling key the comic book creators used to justify this sequel.  

To the comic creators’ credit, they did their research about T2 and even made references to other characters of that movie. As a result, this comic book appears loaded with fan service.

Even though it has many references and connections to the 1991 movie, this comic book also has some completely new stuff to expand on T2’s concept. The destruction of Cyberdyne’s facility in the movie resulted an emergency meeting of a corporation’s board of directors (and a certain senator) which creatively sets up further conflicts as well as struggles for Sarah and her son.

In terms of writing, this comic book’s story is cohesive enough. As for the art, the quality is fine and most notably, the illustrator managed to somewhat capture the likeness of Linda Hamilton on Sarah Connor.

Conclusion

The severed Terminator arm as the single factor that justified this sequel somewhat.

I can say that Terminator 2: Cybernetic Dawn #1 (1995) is a surprisingly satisfying read mainly due to its writing and artistic quality. While its push to justify a sequel barely succeeds, there is more good stuff than negative ones overall. As far as making sequels to Terminator 2 is concerned, this one is somewhat more believable than the 2003 movie.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Terminator 2: Cybernetic Dawn #1 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $19.

Overall, Terminator 2: Cybernetic Dawn #1 (1995) is satisfactory.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Total Recall Movie Special #1

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book, watching the movie and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

I already published that I really love the 1990 sci-fi action movie Total Recall which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside and Rachel Ticotin under the direction of the highly talented Paul Verhoeven. The movie is one of my all-time favorites and most notably it has aesthetics that are totally unique mainly due to the combined expressions and artistry of Schwarzenegger and Verhoeven. Behind it all, Total Recall would not have been realized without the short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale written by the late sci-fi author Philip K. Dick whose published works led to other movies from Hollywood.

As part of a business strategy, Total Recall also had multi-media releases in the form of a novel (by Piers Anthony), video games and a comic book published by DC Comics. Very recently I was able to finally read the comic book adaptation of the film titled Total Recall Movie Special #1. It had a cover that was technically a copy of the American movie poster with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face dominating it and it came with a cover price of $2.95 which was pretty high for 1990.

Is the comic book adaptation any good? Does it capture the essence of the blockbuster film? We can find out by finally starting this look back at Total Recall Movie Special #1, published in 1990 by DC Comics with a story written by Elliot S. Maggin and drawn by the late Tom Lyle (read my first article of Lyle’s work).

Cover
The cover of the comic book.

Early story

The story begins on the surface of planet Mars where a man and a woman (both wearing space suits) walk together heading towards an unknown destination. Suddenly a small stone cracks the glass face shield of the man’s helmet exposing him to the deadly atmosphere of Mars.

2
Like in the movie, Douglas Quaid and Lori wake up.

It turns out it was just a dream for Douglas Quaid who was in bed with his wife Lori. The dream turned out to be a recurring one as Lori asked him if the dream lady was in there again. Lori then asked Doug who the dream lady was. A short time later, Doug reports to work and while doing construction work on the field, he asked a colleague about Rekall (note: he saw a video ad of it on his way to work). The guy told Doug about someone getting lobotomized at Rekall and discouraged him from availing of their service.

7
Douglas Quaid at Rekall for his virtual holiday.

Doug eventually visits Rekall after work and availed of their virtual holiday as a secret agent. Something goes wrong as Doug goes berserk while strapped on one of Rekall’s seats. Dr. Lull (in-charge of the operation) explains to her boss that Doug was not acting out his virtual holiday as her team has not even implanted it yet on him…

Quality

14
The bad guys on the hunt for Douglas Quaid.

When it comes to presenting the story, Elliot S. Maggin clearly paid close attention to the details, the plot and dialogue of the movie while implementing adjustments along with artist Tom Lyle to make the story work in comic book format. Clearly, this is not a word-for-word, scene-for-scene adaptation but it comes close to capturing the essence of the film. Unsurprisingly, the comic book adaptation never captured the unique Schwarzenegger-Verhoeven aesthetics of the movie but it still performed well on replicating the sci-fi, hard action moments. I find it surprising that Total Recall Movie Special #1 carried the seal of approval of the Comics Code Authority (CCA) as there were some bloody shots and several moments of strong violence inspired by the R-rated film.

When it comes to the visuals, Tom Lyle succeeded in capturing the sci-fi look of the movie and even had the literary Douglas Quaid occasionally resemble Arnold Schwarzenegger. Lyle’s drawings on other characters like Lori, Melina, Coohagen and Richter looked NOTHING like the actors who played them but that’s not a problem at all as this gives this comic book its own unique touch. In fact, there were some drawings of people that sometimes reminded me of what I saw in EC Comics’ Weird Science comic books.

While Lyle scored nicely with the action scenes, his own drawings of planet Mars and the human colony are quite nice to look at. With regards to the urban environment, Lyle drew a nice mix of 20th century inspired urban areas laced with futurism. Unsurprisingly, the futurism got stronger when the story was set in Mars.

If there is anything lacking with the art, it would be visual dynamism. This can be forgiven however given the high amount of dialogue and story details that had to be presented with each page carrying a lot of panels.

Conclusion

23
The human colony in planet Mars.

I can say it out loud that Total Recall Movie Special #1 is a fun read and serves nicely as a literary companion to the cinematic masterpiece Total Recall. As a comic book adaptation of a blockbuster movie, this one is pretty good and in some ways captured some of the flair of the film even as it never successfully replicated the Verhoeven-Schwarzenegger aesthetic in the film. Really, if you want the best of Total Recall you really should watch the movie. This comic book on its own is entertaining and should encourage you to watch the film.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Total Recall Movie Special #1 (1990), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $11 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $31. If you are looking for something more valuable, the near-mint copy of the numbered-and-signed edition of the comic book costs $51.

Overall, Total Recall Movie Special #1 (1990) is highly recommended!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Total Recall (1990)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching the movie and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

I miss the old days when an R-rated action-packed science fiction movie can be passionately made with exceptional directing, clever writing, great camera work that’s consistently steady, solid performances from the actors, action that was not too choreographed, and visuals that heavily utilized practical effects and optical effects.

I’m talking about Total Recall, the 1990 sci-fi action movie that starred a much younger Arnold Schwarzenegger supported by Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Rachel Ticotin and Ronny Cox. Directed by Paul Verhoeven (who directed the 1987 classic RoboCop) with a screenplay (based on the Philip K. Dick short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale) by Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon and Gary Goldman, Total Recall was a tremendous hit in the cinemas grossing more than $261 million worldwide with a production budget of over $60 million. To date, the film remains a favorite not only with fans of Schwarzenegger but also with people who love action movies, sci-fi movies, movies of the 1990s and geeks.

But before looking back at this movie, it is important to take note that Total Recall took several years of development before it finally got produced. The very first screenplay was written by O’Bannon and Shusett in the 1970s (after securing the film rights to Philip K. Dick’s short story when the author was still alive). Eventually prolific movie producer Dino De Laurentiis took the project for development. Years later, De Laurentiis’ company collapsed (due to failed projects) which provided Schwarzenegger the golden opportunity to get Total Recall by persuading Carolco to secure the rights for a few million dollars. After many screenplay drafts written and the hiring of Verhoeven as director (note: Schwarzenegger approached him personally) plus Gary Goldman, the rest became history.

Screenshot_20200524-002827_YouTube.jpg
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Michael Ironside and Ronny Cox in a memorable scene.

Now, here is a look back at Total Recall.

Early Story

The story begins at the surface of planet Mars where a man and a lady (both wearing space suits) travel on foot. Suddenly, the man slips down and breaks the frontal shield of his helmet exposing himself to Mars’ air. It turned out to be an intense nightmare for Douglas Quaid who was in bed with his beautiful wife Lori. Lori asked him about the unidentified woman who appeared in his dreams, but Quaid expresses his love for her. On his way to work, Quaid saw a TV ad inside the train about Rekall, a company that sells holidays and adventures in the form of memories. At work, his fellow construction worker discouraged him from availing of any services from Rekall. After work, Quaid visits Rekall and decides to avail of an ego trip as a secret agent. Just as the memory trip was about to start, Quaid wakes up violently…

Quality

This movie is still great to watch. Let me start first with the creative team of Paul Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Screenshot_20200524-002229_YouTube.jpg
A great action scene about to start…

When it comes to the synergy between the director and the lead player, Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger make a great creative team that made this movie very special! When asked during an interview what it was like for him to work with Schwarzenegger, Verhoeven said:  Arnold is great. Switching from Rutger Hauer to Arnold is not that big a step. It’s strange to say that, because he’s this crazy Austrian, with an accent—but, for me, Arnold is the American Rutger. I think if I did a few movies with Arnold, I could do as much with him as I did with Rutger. Now, this movie was the wrong thing . . . But I think you can do much more with Arnold, explore more possibilities, than was necessary for this movie.

Screenshot_20200523-235159_YouTube.jpg
Sharon Stone as Lori.

Now, it is a fact that Schwarzenegger lacks versatility when it comes to acting. Even so, Verhoeven succeeded in getting a deeper-than-expected performance from the star in this movie. Sure, we get to see Schwarzenegger fight bad guys with really rough action, fire guns, run and jump around here but what really stood out here was his portrayal of a man who discovers that the life he knew was all a lie and goes on to find the truth about himself. This role remains a standout role of Schwarzenegger’s among all the characters he played in his many other action films. What is also notable with Douglas Quaid is that the protagonist is always in danger and never invincible, very similar to how Bruce Willis played John McClane in Die Hard. If you watch this film after seeing Schwarzenegger play his invincible icon in the Terminator movies, you will feel his pain, tension and curiosity here! As if that was not enough, there is also the other role Schwarzenegger played in this movie that you should see.

Of course, Total Recall also drew greatness and depth from Verhoeven who also got strong performances from Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Rachel Ticotin and Ronny Cox. Sharon Stone is the beautiful wife who will shock you. Michael Ironside is the henchman who will make you root for Schwarzenegger even more. Rachel Ticotin is the brave woman who is believable with the cause she is involved with.

Screenshot_20200524-002035_YouTube.jpg
Rachel Ticotin as Melina.

More notably, Ronny Cox is the all-powerful and ruthless executive who will get on your nerves and make you root for Schwarzenegger a lot, very similar to how his villainous role in RoboCop made moviegoers root for the cyborg policeman. It should be noted that the evil executive-henchman duo of Cohaagen (Cox) and Richter (Ironside) here is a directorial trademark of Verhoeven’s and it should bring back memories of the other evil duo in RoboCop. More than that, Ronny Cox succeeded in selling the concept that Cohaagen really had been the administrator of the colony in Mars exploiting the resources and the people for a long time.

More on getting the most out of the actors, Verhoeven and his team crafted a memorable hand-to-hand fight scene between Lori (Stone) and Melina (Ticotin) actually taking part in the action and stunts. Sharon Stone clearly got athletic in this movie and her efforts paid-off nicely, complete with another fight scene with Arnold Schwarzenegger (she actually even threw two high kicks at Schwarzenegger’s head) early in the film. Beyond the hard battle with Stone, Ticotin went on to take part in further action scenes in the film and she sure is believable as an action performer. To put things in perspective, Stone and Ticotin are not action stars but they excelled nicely in their work here and this also made Total Recall special.

When it comes to storytelling under the direction of Verhoeven, Total Recall moved at a medium-to-fast pace and there was never a single moment of rushing, nor a single boring moment at all. The film just kept going smoothly complete with true unpredictability which results lots of twists and surprises. I should also state that the dialogue from the finalized screenplay is still excellent, and they were nicely delivered by the actors. Verhoeven also added depth to the film by using mystery while also getting good performance from Schwarzenegger as Doug Quaid finds out that life is not what it seems. I should state that the sci-fi elements of altering (and adding) human memories with the use of computers and the business of selling virtual holidays and ego trips were strongly emphasized. These also add to the film’s mystery which should engage you to wonder and analyze as the story moves on.

Screenshot_20200524-003106_YouTube.jpg
The best view from an office on planet Mars.

On the spectacle, Total Recall is heavily loaded! The action is violent, plentiful and carries that particular aesthetic that only director Verhoeven has. It’s hard to explain in words but once you watch the action in this movie (plus comparing it to RoboCop and Starship Troopers), you will realize it. Even so, the action never turned this movie into a brainless affair. The action worked nicely to balance the mystery and suspense.

The visual effects here were mostly done by practical and optical ways. Special effects specialist Rob Bottin, who famously worked in John Carpenter’s The Thing and worked also with Verhoeven in RoboCop, came up with very memorable animatronics to simulate facial and physical changes on characters on key sequences involving sci-fi elements. The team also crafted really freaky looking makeup works on the Mars mutants, which really gave this film a strong sci-fi look. I also like the use of miniatures and physical sets that visualized the colony in Mars. By today’s standards, this movie’s visual effects still look great and I can only wish that filmmakers today would rely less on computers and go back to using practical effects (note: physical stuff) and, on certain occasions, optical effects.

Screenshot_20200524-000149_YouTube.jpg
Really great movie makeup work by Rob Bottin.

When it comes to the physical environments, this movie was filmed a lot in Mexico, specifically on key locations and on the sound stages in an established movie production studio there. Years ago, when I first learned for the first time that the trains used in the film were real-life trains that actually operated in one of Mexico’s real-life transportation systems, I was astounded! Paul Verhoeven himself confirmed that the train sequences were not only shot on location with real trains (note: monitors were added by the filmmakers to achieve a futuristic look) but the place’s architectural design were very unique and fitted nicely with the sci-fi concept of the movie.

The Mars colony set does not look fake to me. In fact, it really looks like it has long been lived in by people and the filmmakers nicely designed it. The Venusville set looks very convincing and, within the story, it got decayed due to long-term businesses, constant vehicular traffic and people who always flocked the place. The Mars hotel meanwhile has that cleaner, nicer look with tourists who paid good money for pleasure and discovery.

I should mention that the cinematography here done by Jost Vacano is excellent. The set-ups of the camera to get great angles of the actors is special, and the same can be said about the capturing of the spectacle that happened on-screen. The flashback of Mars inside Quaid’s mind had great, floating views of the location complete with perfectly smooth movement! Vacano also worked with Verhoeven in RoboCop.

Finally, the musical score by the late Jerry Goldsmith is very memorable and this is my favorite among all his works. The music provided gave this movie a strong sci-fi feel and when suspense plays, the tunes added nicely to it. The most memorable music tracks here are the opening credits music (which is immersive) and the foot chase between Quaid and Richter on Earth (the music really keeps the pace high).

Conclusion

Screenshot_20200523-233244_YouTube.jpg
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid in a key scene.

Total Recall is a true, adulterated sci-fi action classic and easily it is still is one of the best ever movies I’ve seen from Schwarzenegger, Verhoeven and Stone. A few visual elements did not age well but its highly engaging story (combined with the strong performances and spectacle) remains its key selling point. There is a lot of ambiguity throughout the film and it will keep you wondering if the story (or at least portions of it) was reality or all a dream in Quaid’s mind. The way the story is structured combined with the excellent spectacle, this is a movie that is worth watching again and again! It remains an effective viewing experience for me until now.

As it contains the directorial trademarks of Verhoeven mixed with Schwarzenegger’s own style of expression and hard action, Total Recall is a very unique move of its own and it’s impossible to replicate nor match. Keep in mind that the 2012 remake of this movie was badly made (even though it had a big budget and highly advanced visual effects involving the use of computers) and ended up being a complete failure.

To put it short, Total Recall is more than just an action-packed thrill ride. It is also a mystery film that will keep viewers on the edge as the search for answers continues. Total Recall also explores the theme of what would you do when you realize that the life you remember turned to be an exceptional lie, and that you are literally caught in the middle of a web surrounded by dangerous, powerful people. I could never forget how my mind got motivated as I focused on the narrative the first time I ever saw this great movie decades ago. Total Recall was a sci-fi viewing experience like no other.

Overall, Total Recall (1990) is highly recommended! I urge you, my readers, to buy the movie on Blu-ray disc or watch it via streaming.


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