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R4 continues to impress me with yet another superior release. Total Recall is, in my opinion, one of Arnie’s best, up there with the first and second Terminator films, True Lies and of course Predator.

I can see my house from here...
I’m sure everyone knows the story by now (the film is over a decade old), so I’ll dispense with a lengthy explanation, but here's a brief synopsis:

Arnie plays Doug Quaid, a man who is not what he appears to be. Quaid keeps having recurring dreams about Mars, strange alien artefacts, and a mysterious woman. In spite of warnings from his wife (Sharon Stone), Quaid takes a trip to Rekall Inc., a company that specialises in artificial memory implants. Hoping to receive an implanted memory of his dream vacation, Quaid doesn't bet on something going wrong with the process. After waking up in the back of a robotic cab, with no memory of how he got there, he finds himself the target of all manner of unpleasant characters; his co-workers try to kill him, and even his wife tries to get in on the act! On the run, not knowing whom to trust, he sets off to Mars in an attempt to discover the truth about his past. But is Quaid really who he thinks he is, or is it all just an elaborate 'head trip'?

They don't make films like this any more. You just couldn't get away with it today. For a start a film such as this would be bogged down with so many computer generated effects as to be untrue. There’s something very satisfying about 80s and early 90s action flicks, and Arnie did them better than anyone. I love their purity, they don't pretend to be anything they're not (unlike a film such as The Matrix, with it's philosophical undertones). They are popcorn-munching thrill-rides and that is all. This is one of the better examples of the genre, with a good premise and engrossing set pieces. The film is violent, a Verhoeven trademark, but not excessively so. The acting is competent, and actors such as Ronny Cox and Michael Ironside give good performances. Even Arnie (who, let's face it, isn't the greatest actor in the world) is better than usual, although his one-liners are still groan inducing. Sharon Stone also looks particularly tasty in this flick. Total Recall can't stand up to the likes of The Phantom Menace or the aforementioned Matrix in the special effects stakes, but it still has the ability to entertain more than a decade after it's release, certainly more so than the aforementioned Star Wars flick.

You'll never guess who I had in here the other day...
Video is presented in anamorphic 1.85:1. There are a few noticeable instances of grain, but this can be forgiven for a film of this age. They don't particularly detract from what is a great transfer overall, and suffice to say that this DVD does the film justice visually. The special effects do look a little dated, but not horribly so, and there are some cool moments that really show them off, especially the many set-piece gunfights.

Sound comes in the form of either Dolby Digital Surround or 5.1, the latter obviously being the format of choice. The 5.1 mix is great; the bass growls suitably during the many explosions, and dialogue remains clear throughout. The surrounds are also used to good effect when called into action, which is fairly frequently. The film has a great score, perfectly suited to the action. It really gets your heart racing during the more exciting moments.

What do you mean I haven't made a decent film since True Lies?!?!
Extras, to be honest, are pretty dire, with only a teaser trailer on offer. This is of poor quality too, and I doubt it'll be given a second viewing. This film had so much hype at the time; they should have been able to dig up a few more trailers, featurettes and interviews etc. The disc is also crying out for a director's commentary track. Paul Verhoeven's other commentaries are often amusing, although he does tend to slide into irrelevancy occasionally.

Overall then, this is a very enjoyable sci-fi romp and a good disc. This is real no-brainer stuff, and as such is very entertaining. It's just a shame about the extras, with a good set this could have been a really special disc.