Total Recall (1990) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Total Recall is a good example of Arnold Schwarzenegger's personal film genre of explosions and wisecracks, and includes some of the best of both. Like Blade Runner, it was based on a story by Philip K Dick. 

(OK, if you want to know, or are studying for your trivia final, Blade Runner came from "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", and Total Recall came from "We Can Remember it For You Wholesale")

This film is possibly the best of director Paul Verhoeven's Hollywood movies, and it made everyone a lot of money.

Ah-nuld plays a guy who is trapped in an unromantic job in the later years of the 21st century, and he dreams of adding some spice to his life, so he goes to a place that does memory implants to get a virtual vacation on Mars. 


there is a three-breasted woman

Sharon Stone is never actually topless, but her breasts can be seen from time to time while she wears her nightgown

 A problem arises. It seems that he starts to have memories of Mars before they have been implanted. How can that be true? He's never been there. Thus starts a long a twisted plot which is something like (but not exactly like) this: 

He was a CIA guy sympathetic to the Martian mutant rebels, who gave himself a new identity as a welder in order to hide from the evil industrialists on Mars. Or so he thinks for a while.

Or maybe he was an evil industrialist who was reprogrammed to be a CIA guy posing as a welder, in order to infiltrate the Martian rebels. Because if he didn't really believe he was that, he couldn't fool the mutant psychics. Or so he thinks for a while.

Or maybe he was planted there by the mutants years before, in order to infiltrate the industrialists.

Or maybe he never left the chair he was in at the beginning of the movie, and everything was just part of the "secret agent Martian adventure" that we saw him buying.

And so forth. Unearthing his real motivations, or for that matter his real identity, is the plotline. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • Full-length commentary from Schwarznegger and Verhoeven

  • various featurettes and documentaries

That's a pretty cool story, if a tad confusing. And it's supported by great F/X, plenty of imagination, good action, and lots of comic relief. For a while, this was a blockbuster formula for the big guy.

This film was the source of one his best quips:

Sharon Stone: You wouldn't shoot me? I'm your wife

Ah-nold (shooting her): considda dat a divawce


The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3.5/4, Berardinelli 2.5/4, Maltin 3/4.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.1 
  • With their dollars ... it grossed more than $250 million worldwide, and ended up with a handsome return for the $65 million investment.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, it's a C+ - a funny shoot-em-up rich in imagination and f/x. Excellent genre pic, but not your thing if you want sensitive, reality-based entertainment or plots meant to be taken seriously.

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