Get your ass to Mars, it’s time for a Total Recall sequel.
For eleven years, Total Recall has been held on high regard as one of the best sci-fi/action movies of all time. It’s a best in a lot of categories; it’s considered one of Arnold’s best, a best for Paul Verhoeven and, hell, let’s go out on a limb and say it’s one of Sharon Stone’s best as well. Total Recall even won a special visual effects Oscar. But you know what really made Total Recall so great? It wasn’t drawn out into a dying franchise glutted with a handful of godawful sequels. Its purity remained intact — at least, for a decade, it did.
So here it is — the belated sequel, also conveniently titled Total Recall so it can confuse and trick you into thinking you’re either buying a comic book adaption of the 1990 movie or a comic book adaption of Philip K. Dick’s We Can Remember It for You Wholesale. I fell for it, I’m sure others did as well, and some of them might share my opinion.
Dense and predictable, Total Recall the comic picks up directly after Total Recall the movie ends and then shoves it violently into a gun fight. It’s revealed that Kuato — the tiny man living in the chest of a bigger man — had been keeping all the rebels of Mars in check and, in the 20 minutes since his death, all the rebels have begun to… rebel. Fancy that. Mars needs a true leader and five bucks says Quaid (Arnie’s character) gets the job. The comic does, however, question whether or not Quaid’s Mars adventure is a dream or not. It was never revealed in the movie if the whole thing was fake and part of Quaid’s Rekall implanted vacation process or if his memories from his double life were triggered. I, for one, would like to find out what really happened.
In comparison to the film version, the comic just doesn’t have it. A lot is lost here because Total Recall was such a visual film, and moreso because it was breaking through the boundaries of special effects back in the ’90s. No one had ever seen the mind blowing effects in Total Recall before. A woman pulls her head off and she’s Arnie underneath? Anyone can draw a lady pulling her head off, but that’s on paper — it’s not real, we’re not seeing it in a “real life” situation. We lose that visual shock and awe in the comic form.
I’m going to use Gone With the Wind as an example here. I am not comparing it to any version of Total Recall, but if Gone With the Wind were adapted into a comic, would the burning of Atlanta be as grand as it had been in the film? Or when Scarlet wanders out amongst the wounded and the camera pulls back to show the endless rows of men laying dead and dying on the ground — that visual wouldn’t be as powerful because a comic lacks the depth and dimension a movie camera provides. Total Recall the comic is just not as exciting as the movie because we’re only looking at the story, not experiencing it. I know I’m coming off pretty harsh but I really don’t see the reasoning in a four-part sequel to Total Recall. It doesn’t seem like it’ll do anything for the legacy of the movie, good or bad, which, in my eyes, makes it redundant. It would have been better if it were an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s original short story — that would have been worth it. I walk away from this unconvinced and unable to truly recommend it to anyone.