Total Recall appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. No notable problems emerged in this positive transfer.
Sharpness looked solid. Virtually no softness materialized, as the image remained tight and well defined. No jaggies or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement failed to appear. Source flaws were a non-factor, as the movie was always clean.
In terms of palette, Recall opted for the expected stylized tones. A lot of the movie went with either a blue or green overlay, though some amber and neons also appeared. Within the design parameters, the hues appeared well-developed and displayed good range for what they were able to do. Blacks seemed deep and tight, while shadows were clear and smooth. In the end, the image was consistently fine.
As for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Total Recall, it matched up well with the visuals. As expected, the movie’s action elements provided the most pizzazz, as chases and other dynamic sequences showed good movement and involvement. These components meshed together well and created a nice sense of environment, with useful material from the surrounds. We got tons of these, so the track filled all five channels on a nearly constant basis and created a terrific sense of the material.
Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was crisp and distinctive, with no edginess or other concerns. Music was full and rich, while effects came across as lively and accurate. The track boasted good low-end when appropriate. This became a quality soundtrack for a sci-fi action flick like this.
On Disc One, we find both the movie’s Theatrical Version (1:58:18) and an Extended Director’s Cut (2:10:16). What do we get from that extra 12 minutes? Lots and lots of short extensions – for the flick’s first half, at least. Throughout the film, we discover many brief additions that give us a smidgen more exposition and plot information. These are rarely noteworthy; most are brief bits that don’t impact the movie’s overall impact.
A few more substantial changes occur, though. We lose a subplot about Quaid’s desired promotion at work; instead, he meets with a government official who makes him sign a loyalty oath of sorts.
When Quaid discovers a video activated by his piano, we also find a radical change, and that alteration affects the rest of the story. This leads to a discovery about Matthias’s child and requires many differences the rest of the way. Some of these simply make small changes in lines, but we get a lot of additional dialogue to discuss the circumstances. These add a bit more depth to the proceedings, especially in terms of the Malina/Quaid relationship.
While the Blu-ray’s case claims it includes an “alternate ending”, this isn’t true in the expected sense. The changes mentioned above all come in the final third of the movie and impact the conclusion, but when you look at the flick’s last reel, it’s essentially the same no matter which cut you watch. There’s one minor change in the final scene, but there’s no true “alternate ending”; it’s just that the mix of character alterations give us a different impression of events.
Does one cut work better than the other? I think the Director’s Cut is probably superior, if just because it offers more emotional depth. Granted, some of the extensions in the movie’s first half can feel a bit redundant – in particular, the Malina/Quaid confrontation with Harry goes on too long – and others are largely superfluous, but the second half differences ensure that the DC becomes more satisfying.
Alongside the Director’s Cut, director Len Wiseman delivers an audio commentary. In this running, screen-specific affair, he gets into effects and visual design, changes made for the Director’s Cut, story, characters and comparisons with the 1990 movie, cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts and action, and a few other areas.
We find a nice chat from Wiseman. I like how much he offers about the changes made for the Director’s Cut, and he digs into a good variety of filmmaking subjects as well. The track moves at a solid clip and delivers an enjoyable and informative piece.
For another running piece, we get Total Recall: Insight Mode. This offers picture-in-picture material that we see as the theatrical cut progresses, though it pauses the film at times, so it goes for a total of two hours, 17 minutes, seven seconds. In addition to behind the scenes footage and text, we find comments from Wiseman, director of photography Paul Cameron, producers Neal H. Moritz and Toby Jaffe, set decorator Carolyn Loucks, composer Harry Gregson-Wilson, costume designer Sanja Milovic Hays, special makeup effects designer Jamie Kelman, special effects supervisor Clay Pinney, special effects shop supervisor Lee Alan McConnell, production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, visual effects supervisors Peter Chiang and Adrian De Wet, vehicle art director Oana Bogdan, LA special effects supervisor Burt Dalton, location manager Marty Dejczak, property master Deryck Blake, and actors Jessica Biel, Kaitlyn Leeb, John Cho, Colin Farrell, Bokeem Woodbine, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy.
“Insight Mode” examines cinematography and music, background facts about some of the story’s concepts, various effects, changes from the original story and the 1990 movie, costumes, makeup and visual design, sets and locations, stunts and action, cast and performances, and some additional topics.
“Picture-in-picture” modes tend to be hit or miss, but this one’s mostly “hit”. At times, too much of the movie passes without info, but that’s not a significant issue, as we don’t get tons of gaps. “Insight Mode” touches on a nice variety of subjects and does so in a reasonably complete manner.
Disc One opens with ads for Seven Psychopaths and Resident Evil: Retribution. These also appear under Previews along with ads for Men in Black 3, Premium Rush and Parker.
Disc Two provides for featurettes. We find “Science Fiction vs. Science Fact” (9:28), “Designing the Fall” (2:55), “Total Action” (20:00), and “Stepping Into Recall” (25:30). Across these, we hear from Wiseman, Cranston, Jaffe, Tatopoulos, De Wet, Farrell, Moritz, Biel, Beckinsale, Cameron, Pinney, McConnell, Dejczak, Professor of Theoretical Physics Michio Kaku, and special effects Drew Longland.
These programs cover thoughts about the scientific realities behind Recall concepts, the design and execution of “The Fall”, cast, characters and performances, stunts and action, effects, and previsualization. “Fact” offers some interesting thoughts, and the others generate decent footage from the set, but the level of information tends toward the fluffy side. “Stepping” consists entirely of pre-viz sequences, which makes it more compelling, but overall, these featurettes tend to be somewhat banal.
Finally, we locate a Gag Reel. It runs eight minutes and shows a pretty standard collection of silliness and mistakes. If that works for you, go for it!
Disc Three offers a DVD Copy of Total Recall. It comes with a few extras, as we get “Insight Mode”, the gag reel, and the “Fact” and “Fall” featurettes.
While not a failure as a movie, Total Recall delivers a fairly limp remake. Despite a stronger cast and superior production values, it lacks the basic “fun factor” of the original and never does a lot to engage the viewer. The Blu-ray comes with excellent picture and audio as well as a generally solid collection of bonus materials. This becomes a quality Blu-ray for a mediocre movie.