Gary Goldman

Total Recall (1990)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

Total Recall (1990)

Director:

Paul Verhoeven

Writers:

Ronald Shusett

Dan O’Bannon

Jon Povill

Gary Goldman

Starring:

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Rachel Ticotin

Sharon Stone

Ronny Cox

Michael Ironside

Blurb:

When a man goes in to have virtual vacation memories of the planet Mars implanted in his mind, an unexpected and harrowing series of events forces him to go to the planet for real – or is he?

Thoughts:

Out of Robocop, Total Recall, and Starship Troopers, Total Recall is the only film by Paul Verhoeven that I can watch. I’ve seen the others several times, but they’re too graphic for me to enjoy. I just do not like them. My poor husband loves them, but he’s nice enough to watch them when I’m not around. That being said, I don’t like Total Recall either. It just doesn’t bother me the same way the others do.

I have not read We Can Remember it Wholesale by Phillip K. Dick but just based on a Wikipedia read, it doesn’t sound like Total Recall followed it very closely. Maybe it would have been better if it had. The story seems to be trying too hard to make you question if it’s real or not. Specific plot points don’t make sense or are outright stupid. Personally, I prefer to think that it’s all fake and he wakes up back in his miserable life married to Sharon Stone, but there’s no way to know.

I should probably dedicate a paragraph to the two women in the movie, but I’m finding it difficult. Sharon Stone is a spy married to Arnold, who’s supposed to keep him distracted with her body, so he doesn’t remember his past life. Or is she? He’s supposed to remember his life eventually, so why is she there exactly? Then you’ve got Rachel Ticotin, who’s a member of the rebels and in love with Arnold. She is his contact with the rebels and the woman he’s really interested in. She gets jealous that he was with Sharon Stone but quickly gets over it because she loves him so much. The women don’t have much in the way of personality and are very similar. Both love Arnold, and both can fight.

The special effects in Total Recall are good for the time. Lots of eyes exploding and faces blowing up, plus a ton of bloody squibs. It was impressive and unrealistic enough not to bother me. It’s odd, I don’t mind action violence, but some movies just hit me wrong, and I can’t handle them. Certain types of hyper-violence make me physically ill.

Nineteen-ninety has been the year for movies my husband loves. I think Back to the Future Part III is the only one of my movies I’ve watched. I’ve still got one more movie of his for the year, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Then I move on to a couple of mine. The nineties are an odd mixture of both of our tastes, so there will be some random whiplash to come.

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Director:

John Carpenter

Writers:

Gary Goldman

David Z. Weinstein

W.D. Richter

Starring:

Kurt Russell

Kim Cattrall

Dennis Dun

James Hong

Victor Wong

Kate Burton

Donald Li

Blurb:

A rough-and-tumble trucker helps rescue his friend’s fiancée from an ancient sorcerer in a supernatural battle beneath Chinatown.

Thoughts:

I’ve only watched Big Trouble in Little China once before. I’d forgotten how crazy awesome it is. I’ve kind of only been paying half attention to a lot of the movies I’ve re-watched so far. I couldn’t do that with Big Trouble. There’s always something either funny or crazy going on, and it’s hard to look away. Especially since it’s not a movie, I’m very familiar with.

What makes the movie is that Jack, Kurt Russell, isn’t the hero. He’s an everyman thrust into a fantastic story and becomes a sidekick. He isn’t a joke and has his moments to shine, but he’s also not a savior, even if he did kill the bad guy in the end. He’s the movie’s main focus, but while he’s surviving, you see the other characters doing most of the heavy lifting. It’s, frankly, awesome. I’d love to see more movies like this, and if anyone has any recommendations, please post them in the comments.

Gracie, Kim Cattrall, comes off a bit manic. She’s constantly moving and has a positive energy even when talking about the potential end of the world. She’s smart and has a Lois Lane vibe. She gets herself in trouble but also gets herself out of it. She’s more capable than Jack.

Big Trouble in Little China was a financial flop. The studio had no idea how to market it because they didn’t understand it. For them, Russell was supposed to be the hero, but he clearly wasn’t, so they made Carpenter write something to “explain” the character. This is why we get the opening scene, which makes the least amount of sense in the entire movie. Thankfully, the film ended up finding its audience and now has a cult following.

I already want to re-watch Big Trouble. I’m kind of ashamed that I own it and have only seen it twice. It should be one of those movies I watch periodically throughout the year. It has many of the things I liked about Last Dragon. It has a large minority cast, weird fight scenes, and a heavy 80s influence. Only Big Trouble does it all, just a bit better. There is a huge 80s influence, but it’s done in all of the best ways. It’s easily in the top ten movies I’ve watched so far, quite possibly top five.