Total Recall (1990)

total_recall_xlgStarring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, Michael Ironside, Marshall Bell, Mel Johnson Jr., Michael Champion, Roy Brocksmith, Ray Baker, Dean Norris, Debbie Lee Carrington

Directed by Paul Verhoeven

Expectations: I expect to get my ass to Mars.

fourstar


Total Recall is possibly the greatest movie ever made. It doesn’t have a single slow moment; its pace is relentless and unforgiving. The special FX work throughout still looks amazing, seamlessly bringing the near-future world and the surface of Mars to brilliant life. Director Paul Verhoeven, hot off of the equally incredible RoboCop, squeezes every last ounce of entertainment and excitement out of every shot in Total Recall.

The script might be the film’s greatest aspect, though. Total Recall is based on a Philip K. Dick story called We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, but the film isn’t all that much like the story. Usually I’d complain about this kind of thing, but in the case of Total Recall the screenplay takes the ideas from the short story and creates a thrill ride for the ages. Most importantly, it doesn’t just use the ideas, but also the overarching themes that run through so much of Dick’s work. Dick’s major theme — the nature of reality and what is truly real — is in full effect in Total Recall. The lines between reality and dream are constantly blurred, and even at the end of the film this question is never answered, just as Dick ends many of this novels.

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The Glass Shield (1994)

Starring Michael Boatman, Lori Petty, Richard Anderson, Michael Ironside, M. Emmet Walsh, Ice Cube, Elliott Gould, Bernie Casey, Don Harvey, Sy Richardson, Natalia Nogulich, Wanda De Jesus, Victoria Dillard

Directed by Charles Burnett

Expectations: Moderate. Corrupt cops usually makes for a good movie.


I tried to research these movies a bit beforehand to avoid this, but apparently, unlike the characters in this film, I didn’t dig deep enough. The Glass Shield may showcase Ice Cube at the forefront of every poster, DVD cover and promo material I came across during my evidence gathering phase for Ice Fest, but he’s literally only in it for a few minutes and has just as many lines. Argh. It’s not just frustrating because of Ice Fest, it’s also frustrating because Ice Cube plays a man on trial but we don’t know anything about him. Pretty much all we know is that he’s innocent and wrongly accused by some corrupt cops, so that’s probably why the movie revolves around his trial and not around his character.

Deputy Johnson (Michael Boatman) is fresh out of the Police Academy (No, not that Police Academy) and is assigned to a station full of mustachioed white men who immediately treat him as an outsider. He finds a friend in Fields (Lori Petty), the previous outsider of the force and the only women assigned to that station. One night, Johnson assists another officer when he arrests Ice Cube at a gas station while he ain’t doing a got-damn thing but filling up his VW Bug with gasoline. Ice admits to having a gun under the front seat for protection and is immediately arrested by the officer. This starts the tangled web of corruption and murder trial proceedings to follow, and while I’d love to say that it’s a joy to unravel it, it’s more of a chore.

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Scanners (1981)

Starring Jennifer O’Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane, Michael Ironside, Robert A. Silverman, Lee Broker, Mavor Moore, Adam Ludwig

Directed by David Cronenberg

Expectations: Very high. I’ve seen the head explosion like fifty times, but have never seen the movie.


Oh man, this is gonna be a tough one. One one hand, I loved Scanners. It has a strange vibe with incredible visuals and some really intense moments (not to mention the gore). On the other hand, it belongs to that era of film that I almost always find slow, plodding and hard to watch. So yeah, I kinda loved Scanners while also kinda hating it. In the end, the two emotions blended into a definite liking of the film overall, but I can’t dismiss the fact that the film was kind of hard to sit through. Part of that is me, I had a super long day and I was exhausted when I started it. I knew going in it was a sticky situation, and if the film didn’t completely hold my attention I’d be quickly counting sheep. I fought—and I fought hard—but Scanners just didn’t do it for me like I expected it to. Fucking high expectations, ruining a perfectly good telepathy movie for me.

Scanners is about scanners, genetically special people who can read minds and, in certain cases, control them. Without going too in-depth, there’s one “good” scanner, Cameron, sent to hunt down Revok, played by a young Michael Ironside who’s looking very Jack Nicholson-esque. Revok is an evil scanner who blew up a dude’s head in his introduction scene a few minutes into the movie. While you might think that signals a film filled with insane, gory special effects, that’s not the case. That head explosion is the lion’s share of the gore, but there are a few other choice moments. So anyway, the drive of the movie is Cameron trying to hunt down and kill Revok, but that makes it sound action-packed (or somewhat similar to Blade Runner) and it’s not really.

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