With the remake of Total Recall starring Colin Farrell due out in theaters tomorrow, The Man-Cave wanted to discuss how the original film has mimicked the current technology in our everyday lives...
Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall is a science-fiction/action yarn with a complicated plot about an agent who has his memory suppressed by the bad guys so he can lead them to the leader of the mutant resistance movement trying to overthrown them on Mars. It was made back in 1990 when Ah-nuld Schwarzenegger ruled cinema and was a major box office draw and it even spawned a TV series (yuck!) as well as the aforementioned upcoming remake (totally unneeded). As great as the film was, it still hold up to this very day. Not only does it hold up because of its originality and deep plot, but because the director's film, with the writing of legendary author Philip K. Dick from his story the film was based on, predicted our future.
Dick wrote the short story We Can Help You Remember It For Wholesale many years before Recall took to the screens, but let's concentrate on Verhoeven's film for the sake of the post since it will provide a more visualized take on how this high budget special effects in this flick became our every day reality. Now let's take a look at Dick and Verhoeven's best imitation of Nostradamus.
#1 - FLAT SCREEN TELEVISIONS MOUNTED TO WALLS
A large, flat screen projecting high-definition video that could be mounted to the wall in order to free up living space was unheard of back then. In 1990, we still had the enormous back ends on our television sets that held the tube and all sorts of parts covered by plastic. No matter the size, they also took up a great deal of space we could have used for better purposes in the household. With rounded, reflective glass screens, they projected lousy quality and they certainly were not as big as the one Arnold is watching in this screen cap above. Nowadays, it seems like everyone has flat screens and tubes have gone way of the dinosaur.
#2 - PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION X-RAY SCANNERS
We used to just go through a metal detector. If it beeped, you were searched and that was it. But thanks to terrorist activity, the TSA has beefed up security at airports with full body scans, so you are not hiding anything anymore on your person before you even get close to a gate. In Recall, law enforcement had these set up for the subway and in our current time, the same sort of scanner is now live in every airport all over the U.S. It's only a matter of time before it extends to other forms of public transportation.
#3 - VIDEO CONFERENCING
Everyone talked to each other via videophone through Recall and it was seen as a part of a future we could only dream about. Today, businesses use videoconferencing all of the time for both domestic and international purposes. At the same time, people use webcams to talk to each other using their laptops and services such as Skype to the point where this innovation is merely blase in 2012.
#4 - GPS Tracking Devices
Arnold was tracked through most of the film's first half by a chip inserted into his skull that he had to remove in a painful way. This seemed like an invention we would never achieve, but with the advent of devices such as GPS and Lo-Jack, it is basic gadgetry by today's standards. You can insert microchips into your pets and now even your children, so they can be tracked at all times as well as your vehicles.
#5 - ON DEMAND VIDEO LANDSCAPES
Arnold's flat screen in his apartment (see #1) had a channel that showed a lush background of a woodsy area that Sharon Stone's character selected to stop him from watching the news and triggering his real identity. But she played it off as she was just setting a happy mood in their cramped living quarters. Nowadays, you can select landscapes on the fly using your standard On Demand service to show mood videos such as the same kind of wooded region, or a rain forest, or a desert, or even a fireplace around the Christmas season.
#6 - CONSUMERS HELD HOSTAGE FOR NATURAL RESOURCES
In Recall, our antagonists held the inhabitants of Mars as their slaves and undeserving lower class by controlling the oxygen distribution on the planet. They were essentially locked down to live in shanty towns because if you went outside, you'd explode from lack of air. Nowadays, the government and their business deals with overseas oil tycoons have caused gas prices to skyrocket, while the nation depends on oil/gas as their main source of fuel for everyday transportation to and from work...or else they will starve and die. Thus, the government holds citizens hostage when it comes to purchasing gas at ridiculous prices whether they can afford it or not.
#7 - HAND HELD BLENDERS
Arnold kept his manly physique by drinking health shakes using his high tech portable hand blender. Nowadays, you can buy these for $10 or less from any "As Seen on TV" stores or off of home shopping channels like QVC.
#8 - MOTION-CONTROLLED VIDEO SPORTS
While Arnold drank shakes and worked construction to keep his muscles strong, Sharon Stone's character kept her body-busting physique trim by using a motion-controlled tennis racket device along with a hologram to instruct her how to deploy proper serving form. Nowadays, every one and their mother own a Nintendo Wii after the craze of Wii Sports went mainstream several years back. Now people don't have to leave the house to play tennis or any other sport, actually.
#9 - ARNOLD WAS HIDING A DARK SECRET
Arnold's character had his brain screwed with to conceal a dark secret of being an evil secret agent. So he was leading a double life all this time. As of a year or two back, we all found out that Arnold was concealing a real life dark secret and double life by having an affair and child with his wife's housemaid.
#10 - SHARON STONE'S CAREER WOULD DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH
Sharon Stone's character gets what's coming to her when she dies a horrible death at the hands of Arnold's character and falls out of the film for good. Meanwhile in real life, Sharon Stone went from being a sexy leading lady siren to getting old looking faster than you could say Basic Instinct 2. Consequently, this led to her starring in some terrible films and being relegated to supporting actress roles. Life truly does imitate art.
So there you have it. In 1990, who would have thought that the improbable technology in Total Recall would become standards in our present-day reality. Verhoeven and Dick were geniuses and innovative thinkers that realized mankind could reach its potential in their advancements some day. Now if only we could figure out making those "Rekall" vacations and easy space travel a reality. Then we'd really be on to something.