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August 10th, 2012

Movie Review - Total Recall

Total Recall

Starring: Colin Farrel, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, Bill Nighy, John Cho, Will Yun Lee, and more.

Directed by: Len Wiseman Screenplay by: Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback Screen Story by: Ronal Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Jon Povill, and Kurt Wimmer Based On The Short Story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by: Philip K Dick Cinematography by: Paul Cameron Original Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams

Premise: A disillusioned man plagued by strange dreams decides to give the memory making thrill of Rekall a try. While being set up for his fantasy as a secret spy, things suddenly take a turn as armed men storm the room and kill everyone around him. When they try to grab him, he exhibits skills he's never known before and brings them all down. When he goes home, his wife of seven years then tries to kill him. Is he actually still at Rekall playing out his spy fantasy or is the horror his life has become real? (Rated R)


1) Acting - Thumbs Up: Colin Farrel was great as Douglas Quaid. You could feel his character's frustration at his lot in life even as he argued with himself he should be satisfied and grateful. At several spots Quaid is force to make hard choices, and the struggle to pick the right course reflected very well in Mr. Farrel's expressions and actions. Kate Beckinsale as Lori, however, stole the show. Her dogged, never ending determination and drive was a definite force in the film and came off the screen at the audience in waves. 

2) Special Effects - Thumbs Up: A lot of the effects were very subtle, but definitely there. The palm phones were very cool and the options of private conversations or video conversations were impressive. Holographic imaging was everywhere. The glowing tattoos were super cool, too. The magnetic cars and all the security force androids felt real. The chase scene through the elevator tunnels and on the elevator cars was nicely done.

3) Plot/Story - Neutral: I saw the original "Total Recall" with Arnold Schwazeneger years ago, so not all the facts from the original were fresh in my mind during the viewing of the remake, but I still couldn't help notice a major deviation from then original right from the start - this version of the film is set on Earth rather than Mars. While that normally really wouldn't make much of a difference, in this instance it seemed like an odd change, especially as the new background premise made little sense. (If you have that many robots at your disposal, why aren't they out there cleaning the unsafe zone so humanity could expand?) 

The core story is pretty solid - Quaid getting caught up in the middle of things he doesn't understand and trying to find out what is going on and following the clues left by his former self. But all the set up and information outside the core plot don't add up. Luckily, the film moves at a very fast pace, not allowing for the audience to spend a lot of time putting things together and realizing a lot of things don't quite fit together. 

One example of what I'm talking about would be the Rekall shop at The Colony - located in the worst part of town, and advertising its presence solely by a small sign outside the door, inside the facility is huge! The room for setting up the experience was opulent and had a tremendous amount of space - something which the living conditions of everyone we'd seen up to that point made it seem incredibly unusual. The room even had a giant Buddha head (something which probably weighed tons). Yet if your clients are the low paid, crushed humanity of The Colony, how can they afford to go there? This was just one of many things that didn't quite fit.

4) Stunts - Thumbs Up: There was lots of tumbling, running, leaping, and hand to hand combat among explosions, car chases, careening elevator cars and more. All nicely done.

Conclusion: A fun, exciting ride as long as you don't think too hard and try to make sense of things. Also, if you've seen the original "Total Recall", there are several spots to look for giving homage to the 1990 film.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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