Sci-fi failure or ingenious prophecy?

21:22, Aug 22 2012
Total Recall
MAKING MEMORIES: Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1990's Total Recall and Colin Farrell in the 2012 remake.

It was a huge hit that further cemented Arnold Schwarzenegger's status as America's premier action-movie hero and gave audiences a glimpse of how life might look in the year 2084.

But it was also not a very good movie. That statement might irk fans already outraged over the remake of Total Recall, which has prompted some to wonder why Hollywood tinkered with a film that was just fine the first time.

To those people I say: See it again, then decide if it's possible to improve on a movie in which Schwarzenegger says "Consider that a divorce," after killing onscreen wife Sharon Stone. The answer may come back "yes".

Actually, though, there's another reason to spend some time with the 1990 Recall: to see how much of its vision of the future has come true. It's not unusual for a sci-fi movie to seem prescient, especially one based on a Philip K Dick work. (FYI: A lot of the stuff in Minority Report, another film based on a Dick short story, also is actually happening.) But it's still entertaining to see how the Total Recall film-makers created some gadgets that are mainstream today:


In the 1990 version of 2084, Schwarzenegger's character and his duplicitous wife watch television on a digital wall. Which is essentially the way a lot of Americans watch it now.



Before getting on the Total Recall equivalent of the subway, commuters walk through full-body scanners to make sure they have no weapons. Which is just ridiculous. In America, how would we ever reach a point where we have to get a complete X-ray before using transport - uh, never mind.


In Recall 1990, some characters engage in video conferencing. They don't call it Skyping, but...


Schwarzenegger's pursuers follow him via a portable screen that shows his location as a red dot on a map. You know, the way we all find our way around now, using our iPhones. (Man, Schwarzenegger could have saved his enemies so much time if he'd just had the decency to check in on social networking site Foursquare.)


There's a flesh-and- blood version of Schwarzenegger and a hologram version. Unfortunately, the film-makers weren't forward- thinking enough to also feature a hologram version of Tupac Shakur.


The premise of Total Recall is the notion that a company could implant memories in our cerebrums, making them seem like actual experiences. This has not happened yet, as far as this writer knows. Although one wonders if the people who still love the first Recall had the idea injected into their brains.

-The Washington Post