Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not some highbrow intellectual who likes to pontificate about the good, the bad, and the ugly of filmdom. (Well, not every day, any way ...) Film as art is a highly personal experience, meaning that one work is never naturally going to mean the same thing to two different people ... but I've always been kinda/sorta 'on an island' when it comes to what most mainstream audience members see in a flick. I can't tell you the number of times I've been encouraged to go and see the latest blockbuster only to come back home and tell those who loved it that it was only 'meh' for me. It's safe to say that it's happened so many times that most who know me know to avoid asking me what I thought of a particular release; and about ten years or so back I just completely stopped recommending films to those I know because I rarely, if ever, agreed with their taste.
I won't go into the who's, what's, and why's of that because at the end of the day that isn't what matters: rather, what matters is the film -- the art -- and it's quality to create a life beyond its original release date and beyond.
Paul Verhoeven's 'interpretation' of Philip K. Dick's Total Recall is one such example.
The feature was produced at what was perhaps the cinematic peak of Arnold Schwarzenegger's popularity. (No, this isn't to say that he hasn't starred in more popular flicks because he clearly has. It's just an observation that Arnie was 'the king' at the time, and it's natural that audiences would embrace his next picture.) It brought together Verhoeven not long after he truly cracked onto the scene with the controversially-violent RoboCop (1987) and the muscleman for what turned out to be yet another somewhat violent motion picture ... but also the tale was draped in a kind of mystical, fairy tale quality 'what if' that audiences have also greeted favorably. Add to that the emerging star power of a young Sharon Stone and what could possibly go wrong?
But Verhoeven's casting genius didn't stop there. Genre fans were already familiar with Michael Ironside, a true scene-chewing young buck who made a name for himself aboard David Cronenberg's Scanners (1981), the 3D B-movie gem Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone (1983), and TV's alien invasion V franchise. (How this thespian hasn't scored more acclaim is beyond me.) The director brought Ronny Cox over to this new picture even after the man had basically already staked out cinema villainhood in the aforementioned RoboCop, a risky move that paid off dearly. And he brought in Robert Picardo, Dean Norris, Rachel Ticotin, and Marshall Bell, character greats who knew precisely how to make big business out of even the smallest roles.
This veritable popcorn SciFi/Thriller upped the ante of a great cast with an already solid foundation of a winning script, one that had floated around Hollywood for some time with a wealth of big names coming and going through the rumor mill. But it was Schwarzenegger who was eventually blessed with bringing it to life ... and the end result still resonates with those discovering decades after its first blush.
If you haven't seen it, then add it to your Bucket List. If you have? Well, maybe it's time for a repeat viewing. I know I'll be checking it out again sometime soon.
Also, I've researched some trivia blurbs that I'll be sprinkling throughout the MainPage over the course of June, so watch for those if you're interested.
As always, thanks for reading ... and live long and prosper!