Total Recall

1990, Carolco Pictures

Philip K. Dick's library was plundered once more for potential source material, and his 1966 short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale was adapted by Alien's father, Dan O'Bannon, among others. The property had been bouncing around Hollywood for nearly a decade when it caught the attention of Arnold Schwarzenegger, by which time the still-incomplete script was on its 42nd draft. Hot to star in it, he persuaded Carolco to buy the rights, and being a fan of RoboCop, he tapped Paul Verhoeven to direct. With a budget somewhere in the neighborhood of $65 million, it was one of the most expensive films made at the time of its release. While it was a big hit, and remains fairly popular, I found it difficult to warm up to, mostly due to its radical shifts in tone as it progressed, as well as Verhoeven's preoccupation with blood and gore.

     

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CRAP

MEH

WOW

Total Recall

2002, Original Film et al

For once, we get a reimaging that doesn't suck. It's not great, mind you, but it's somewhat better than the original—to me, at least. The story was substantially altered, and critics were divided by the result, offering a full gamut of reactions. I thought it was more intelligent and sophisticated than its predecessor, and had significantly better effects, although the characters were a bit flat; Colin Farrell didn't seem to invest much in his role. Many complained of its lack of humor, but I didn't miss it, as I'd grown weary of Paul Verhoeven's style, and the absence of his trademark gory violence was most appreciated. It also had real flesh-and-blood female characters, not the superfluous cardboard cutouts we got the first time.

     

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CRAP

MEH

WOW

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