(Retro movie review is a bi-weekly feature by guest writer Delilah Dawson. D. takes a look back at some of our generations best nerdiest movies and makes us appreciate them all over again.)
You know it. You love it. And if you don’t, you’re a jerk.
It’s Total Recall, and it’s one of the best movies ever made. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick titled We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, this movie is so good that we own three different copies of it. One came with my dowry, one came from my husband’s family vault, and one we bought recently on DVD and set up in a small shrine. But enough about me.
You want to hear the short version of Total Recall.
It starts out with a dream.
But she’s not good enough for Doug. See, he has these recurring dreams that he’s on Mars with a hot brunette.
Quaid’s on his way to his job jackhammering large bits of rock when he sees an advertisement for Rekall, a company that saves you money by implanting memories of vacations. You don’t have to travel, get motion sick, tip waiters, get sunburned, or make annoying small talk in line at the buffet. It sounds like a pretty good deal. But then–
Anyway, Mars is very dangerous because Halliburton… I mean, this guy named Cohaagen… is mining all the terbinium that Earth needs for some unspecified war. And there are mutants all over Mars because Cohaagen built shoddy domes, and now the mutants are rioting because they don’t like being all mutated and stuff. So Quaid decides to go to Rekall and take a fake vacation.
Or a “favation”, in 2010 terms. It’s like a “staycation”, but not as lame, because at least you get a t-shirt with Rekall.
But something goes wrong.
They were supposed to implant him with a martian vacation as a secret agent, but it turns out that–
So it turns out that Quaid REALLY IS A SEKRET AJENT! OH NOES!
So he runs away and has to put on Professor Quirrell’s turban and pull a tracker out of his brain.
And he has a nifty costume to get through Martian customs.
The customs guy asks the lady how long she’s staying, and she says “Two weeks”. And then he asks her if she’s carrying any vegetables (because I’m sure that’s going to ruin the special ecosystem of Mars, the rock planet), but the costume messes up. All it can say is “Two weeks”. Then it falls apart, Quaid runs, and the lady’s head is A BOMB.
But because of Total Recall, around our house, “Two weeks” is a magic word, much like on PeeWee’s Playhouse. Anytime someone says “Two weeks”, we flip out.
Anyway, Quaid gets to Mars, goes to the Mars Hilton, which is by the Mars Jack In the Box, and ends up at Venusville, where the whores and freaks hang out, because whores and freaks just go together like New Coke and Pop Rocks. And then he meets the person that everyone remembers from Total Recall.
But this screenshot also demonstrates one of the coolest things about Total Recall: it is seriously good at predicting the future. Huge flat-screen televisions. Sharon Stone learning tennis from a hologram that’s freakily reminiscent of Wii. Product placement everywhere. Crazy airport X-ray security. Even the aluminum water bottles in that scene above that are currently the *only* safe way to drink water without getting the cancer.
But I digress.
What else happens? Quaid is really a bad guy who had his memory wiped to learn ancient alien secrets from Kuato, the mysterious leader of the mutant revolt.
I said Kuato.
Kuato? All that interrupting, and you can’t even show up on cue?
Come on, man. Drop the beer and tell Quaid what he’s supposed to do.
No. That’s wrong. He’s supposed to start the reactor. Quaid is supposed to start the secret alien reactor that will melt the glacier in the center of Mars and bring oxygen to the world so that the mutants and whores won’t have to live under cheap domes and have runny foreheads.
It’s pretty deep.
Oh, and he shoots his wife in the head, too.
And they try to reprogram Quaid’s brain again, but he uses his amazingly enormous muscles to break out of the machine, which looks suspiciously like something from a futuristic gynecologist’s office.
So he gets out, he gets the girl, and he starts the reactor. The alien ex machina does something that looks like lightsabers humping, and then the smoke monster from Lost busts a lot of sugar glass, and then the weird midget whore doesn’t die and Quaid and Athletic Brunette Hooker #41A don’t asphyxiate and everyone is happy on Mars.
But to be serious, you probably already love Total Recall. If not, go watch it. Revel in Ah-nold trying to act. In Sharon Stone making out with Michael Ironside. In the weirdest bunch of freaks ever to grace a movie set. In a startlingly accurate vision of the future, minus holiday space travel, of course.
I give Total Recall three mutant thumbs up.