Film Preview: Total Recall (2012)

Release date: 3rd Aug 2012 (US) | 29th August 2012 (UK)

Director: Len Wiseman

Full trailer:

There were people who, when they heard a short story by P.K. Dick was being made into a big-budget action movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1990, said it would be atrocious. And they were damn right. If you haven’t watched the original film recently, I would suggest you do so ASAP so you can be reminded of what a clumsy and badly acted cheeseball it really is. You will probably also, like me, be reminded of why you loved it so much and still do. It was one of those films that was just right at the time: Arnold at the height of his action-hero status and Paul Verhoeven still steaming from the success of 1987’s RoboCop, which clearly shows through. Although the art direction and sets still look impressive by today’s standards, it is ultimately not a film that has aged well, and re-watching it may have pushed me away from the “too early for a remake!” camp which I was in previously.

Memory Lane: trailer for Total Recall (1990):

But is this new movie *really* a remake, or as some are anticipating, a re-imagining of the original film’s inspiration – the short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” by P.K. Dick? Although credited as being “based on” this story, the original film strayed so far from it that there was really only a very loose connection. If this new film stays even partially in-line with Dick’s writing, it will be founded more on this source than the original film was. But here comes the crunch – whilst director Len Wiseman confirmed that the iconic tri-breasted mutant prostitute lady from the first film will be featured, he said that the cinema release will be rated PG-13. Fear not though, because he did also say the video release will have a different cut with less family-friendly content included. Unfortunately though it’s probably safe to say that we are not going to get the Paul Verhoeven-trademark ultraviolence and gore which entertained us so much in 1990.

Tripple trouble: Arnold gets more than he bargained for on Mars:

So with all this in mind, lets take a look at some shots from the new trailer in a bit more detail:

Could this be “New Shanghai”, or a Chinatown in “Euromerica”?

Total Recall (2012)

Rekal has had an oriental makeover. Interestingly, in P.K. Dick’s original story, the receptionist is topless, with breasts which change colour. Seriously!

Total Recall (2012)

Couldn’t resist doing a comparison with my favourite shot from the 1990 film.

Total Recall (2012)

Check out the guards’ abdomens – they’re robots, not men in armour.

Total Recall (2012)

And finally, we have what appears to be a homage to the original’s face morph scene and holographic technology.

Total Recall (2012)



  • Mark

    First time I saw the trailer I though it looked crap. How can Colin replace Arnie!? However, after reading this and re-watching it is growing on me.

    • scifimethods

      Colin could never replace Arnie! This remake is never going to have the sheer balls that the original boasts, but I believe the sets, art direction and general design work will be worth seeing it for alone. If it has a reasonably intelligent story and Colin doesn’t ruin it, we could be looking at an above-average film here.

      • Asno Mudo

        You might be right, but after watching the original again I couldn’t help but think how time had not done it any favours.
        I loved it when it first came out and must have watched it easily 10+ times over the years but after last weeks viewing I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again.