Few will disagree that Paul Verhoeven’s planet-hopping, ultraviolent sci-fi classic “Total Recall” is utterly bonkers — those who do disagree need to order it on Netflix or buy the DVD/Blu-ray and watch it again, this time more closely. Loosely sprung from Philip K. Dick’s mind-boggling, reality-bending short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” the wildly successful 1990 action blockbuster contains scenes, characters and ideas so intoxicatingly, head-spinningly bizarre that there are times it achieves the kind of blunt surreality that can be found in the stranger sequences of a David Cronenberg or David Lynch movie.
Take one memorable moment that sees Arnold Schwarzenegger, the muscle-bound star, hiding within the mechanical body of a middle-aged lady whose detachable head is then used as an explosive device. An earlier scene has Schwarzenegger yanking a tracking device from the depths of his nasal cavity, in spite of the fact that the bug is three times the size of his nostril. One supporting character is a man with a clairvoyant conjoined twin who protrudes from his brother’s belly like a young kangaroo poking out from its mother’s pouch. And then there’s that famous Martian prostitute, the one whose bountiful bosom boldly challenges that age-old saying, “Two’s company, three’s a crowd.”
And now, in the summer of 2012, we have been given a needless, if perfectly harmless remake (from a studio named Original Films, no less), directed by “Underworld” helmer Len Wiseman. Fans will be pleased to know that this new-and-unimproved “Total Recall” boasts some of the more absurd elements of Verhoeven’s film, but this time they are notably tamer in presentation. For example, instead of encasing himself inside a human exoskeleton, leading man Colin Farrell disguises his appearance with a handy gizmo that projects a holographic image of another person’s head around his. The tracking device once lodged up Schwarzenegger’s nose is now in the inside of Farrell’s hand, removed with the aid of a shard of glass. As the presence of Martian mutants is done away with in this Earth-bound redo, the psychic Siamese twin is sadly nowhere to be seen. However, the triple-breasted hooker is here, even if the three amigos are held at bay by a thin leather strap. Oh how the nerds howl in disappointment. (Continue Reading…)