Total Recall (Blu-ray) (1990)
|Year Of Production||1990|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Paul Verhoeven|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, moderately|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Total Recall is based on the concept of Philip K. Dick's story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. I say concept because aside from the use of memory implants for vacations, the film and the story go onto divergent paths very early on, never to meet again. Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a regular guy with a regular job and an amazingly gorgeous wife, Lori (Sharon Stone). There is just one problem - he is persistently haunted by dreams of another life on Mars with another woman. On his way to work one day, he gets a look at an advertisement for a service called Recall, Inc., where he can go to buy the memory of his ideal vacation. During the procedure to implant the memory, however, things go horribly wrong. Erasing any record they have of Quaid's visit, the staff at Recall put him in a taxi and send him on his way home. A series of violent incidents later, Quaid finds himself pursued by a government agent called Richter (Michael Ironside), and mixed up in a plot involving Martian Administrator Vilos Cohaagen (Ronny Cox).
As a follow-up to RoboCop, Total Recall has almost everything to satisfy Paul Verhoeven fans. The original DVD release in this country had a censor rating that said it all - an R certificate and an advisory plainly stating "very frequent violence". Arnold Schwarzenegger is much better than his usual self, but it is the performances from Cox, Stone, and Ironside that really seal the deal here. The last of that august group has a reputation for being able to discuss the weather in a fashion that resembles throwing insults at a piece of dog s*** lying at the base of a stop sign, and although previous efforts like Scanners are more responsible for that rep, Total Recall cranked it up to about thirteen. And that is what distinguishes Total Recall from the farcical attempts to make an action film of this current decade. The producers, writers, stars, and especially the director knew that a bored audience who had seen just about everything would want creatively-executed action, and more of it.
Total Recall's sole disappointment compared to its august predecessor is that it peters out somewhat in the final reel, offering a relatively sedate, even clichéd ending compared to the other hundred-odd minutes. And as a list of faults goes, that really isn't even vaguely bad. If you already own RoboCop on BD and want more violence in high definition, this is a good place to look.
Total Recall was previously released in two different forms in the midst of the HD format war. The local Region B version was a HD-DVD where some moron got the idea into their head to pitch-shift the audio up a semitone in order to simulate the experience of watching the film in PAL SD. The Region A version was a (notably poor) MPEG-2 encode. This version of Total Recall is an improvement on those two, and on the collector's DVD released in America, but it is still not quite optimal.
Total Recall is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 within a 1920 by 1080 progressive window.
The transfer is very sharp. Far more so than any equivalent DVD, and enough that the most important details in each shot are resolved even better than before. It is not nearly up to the standards of recent films of this genre on BD, but it is very good. Shadow detail is also very good by 1990 standards, and there is no low-level noise. Grain is mildly present, but usually within acceptable limits. Quaid's fight with Lori and her cohorts at 66:00 was a little grainier than I would have liked, but this can be put down to deterioration of the film elements.
The colours of the transfer are fairly accurate to the filmmakers' intentions. Greys, steel, and reds dominate the palette. Some bleeding occurs with the reds of the Martian environment, but this appears inherent in the effects that were used to composite the shots. Flesh tones and the abundant blood are rendered accurately.
Compression artefacts did not appear to be a significant issue in the transfer. Unlike the original Region A disc, this release features a transfer encoded in VC-1 that varies between 10.0 and 34.0 Mbps for the most part. The amount of grain evident in the image occasionally peaks with lowerings in the bitrate, but this is difficult to blame solely on the compression. Film-to-video artefacts are only present in the videotaped sequences used to comprise the video phone conversations or messages Quaid receives. The rest of the transfer makes me weep about the fulfillment of a boyhood fantasy of seeing the film without any interlacing artefacts. In contrast to some releases of the film that I could also name, I failed to notice any significant telecine wobble. Film artefacts are present in mild amounts, usually in the form of black and white marks that ramp up in frequency during the effects shots.
The cover art claims subtitles are available in English for the Hearing Impaired. Attempts to access these from the Top Menu proved fruitless, and attempts to access them on the fly resulted in the Operation Prohibited message.
Total Recall was originally released with Dolby Stereo and other such matrixed audio formats. Many attempts have been made to make a discrete 5.1 channel remix, with varying degrees of success.
As with the subtitles, attempts to access any other options in terms of audio proved utterly fruitless. The one option I was able to access was the original English dialogue in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, which I listened to.
As with all soundtracks encoded in DTS Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD, the separation between effects, dialogue, and music is far more pronounced than has been the case on previous formats. The dialogue is therefore much clearer and easier to understand than I ever remember before. Even Schwarzenegger sounds clearer than I ever remember.
Audio sync occasionally wanders. When Mel Johnson Jr. yells "eat this" at 53:07, his mouth moves a little before one actually hears the words. This is only occasionally a problem, and has to be sought out before one really notices it.
The music consists of a score by Jerry Goldsmith. Easily one of Goldsmith's best scores, the music adds a certain pace to the proceedings without becoming intrusive. The horns in one cue around 75:25 threaten to clip, but just barely escape doing so.
The surround channels are (barely) used to separate music and environmental effects from the rest of the soundstage. I really had to put my ear to a speaker in order to confirm that there were sounds coming out of the surrounds. Fundamentally, this is a stereo soundtrack.
The subwoofer, on the other hand, is frequently utilised to support gunfire, explosions, hand to hand combat, and the music. It is conspicuous due to the blunt, impolite nature of its use, but that suits the film.
|Surround Channel Use|
The packaging makes references to numberous things that have proven either inaccessible or non-existent. Making matters worse is the menu.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
The video transfer is good, but not great.
The audio transfer is a reasonable conversion of source materials nearing twenty years old.
No real extras are provided.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S350, using HDMI output|
|Display||Panasonic Viera TH-42PZ700A. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-835|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|