We’ve all encountered it before, sometimes you just run into a situation that is just too good to be true and it actually is as everything that you perceived around changes into something you never expected. This happens in the movies as well, and something that was a little disappointing in the theatres manages to improve upon itself on home video. Available today as an extended director’s cut Combo Pack on Blu-Ray, get ready for “Total Recall”.
Starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel
Directed by Len Wiseman
When you hear the words ‘Welcome To Rekall’ you simply think of a chance to get away from the day to day and have some memories of something exciting and something different as the chance to have your dreams turned into memories seems to good to pass up. For factory worker Doug Quaid (Farrell), even though he’s got a beautiful wife (Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life; real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs to get his batteries recharged. However when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man and he has no idea why, finding himself on the run from the police led by his own wife controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Cranston), the leader of the free world; Quaid teams up with a mysterious rebel fighter that he’s been having dreams about to find the head of the underground resistance and stop Cohaagen. The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred at every turn for Quaid and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as he discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate.
Diving into a remake is always a dicey proposition even for the most skilled of filmmakers, and while ultimately director Len Wiseman has crafted an incredible looking film, it all unfolded in such a sterile and bland manner that it’s hard to get any enthusiastic enjoyment out of the entire proceedings. Visually borrowing from other Philip K Dick film adaptations, the film felt like it had a distinct lack of originality as one city looked like “Minority Report” and the other looked like “Blade Runner” with more visual flares then in the latest J.J. Abrams film. The action while looking great wasn’t very exciting with the violence toned down in order to receive a PG-13 rating and as Wiseman threw as many gravity bending visual stunts and the screen, it got a little boring after a while, and even though there were enough changes from the original to at least keep the viewer interested for most of the film. Unfortunately it never at one moment felt the slightest bit fresh, though admittedly the director’s cut with 20 minutes of new footage as well as an alternate ending make the narrative feel much more concrete with some of the character relationships much more fleshed out then the theatrical cut of the film as it made some key changes and additions. While a high energy cinematic onslaught can often be enough in this genre in spite of the occasional plot inconsistency and logic hole they weren’t enough to really take you out of the story, however there were some questionable casting choices that brought the entire vibe of the film down.
Colin Farrell stepping into the Doug Quaid role was actually a decent choice, despite his natural flare and charisma being somewhat toned down for the PG-13 rating still did a fine job, playing the confused yet noble action hero. Kate Beckinsale as his wife and pursuer got to have some fun chewing the scenery as the bad guy, and with her experience in the “Underworld” series of films could certainly hold her own in the elaborately staged action sequences, unfortunately after our two leads things do go downhill a fair bit. The wonderful Bryan Cranston seemed like he had a muzzle on him as Chancellor Cohaagen as he never really got a chance to take the role to the gloriously hammy highs that were seemingly built into the part and Jessica Biel as Melina the rebel lieutenant just can’t emote to any measurable degree and part of the fun of the original was the visual differences between Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin and in this version Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel just looked too much alike and even the most attentive film fan might get a bit confused. Bokeem Woodbine, Bill Nighy & John Cho all show up in small and forgettable roles that make you wonder why these recognizable faces were cast in the first place.
The picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are obviously stellar as expected and the special features on this 3 disc combo pack release include the previously mentioned extended director’s cut of the film as well as the theatrical cut, a gag reel, 5 behind the scenes featurettes taking us deep into the story and the production of the film, a feature length commentary track from director Len Wiseman, Insight mode where you can watch the film with behind the scenes insight from Wiseman as well as the playable game demo for God of War: Ascension.
While still flawed in some areas, this extended director’s cut of “Total Recall” gives us a fuller story that is a little less condescending to the audience with a better rounded narrative without skimping on the action.
3 out of 5 stars.
“Total Recall” is available to rent on DVD & Blu-Ray at video stores all across the country, with the extended cut being exclusive to the Blu-Ray. You can also find it for purchase at all major retailers like amazon.ca, iTunes and HMV.
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