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Total Recall (**)
directed by Len Wiseman
Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback,
based on the 1990 film of the same name by Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon, Jon Povill, and Kurt Wimmer,
which was based on the short story "I Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick
Total Recall
Principal Cast
Colin Farrell -- Douglas Quaid / Hauser
Kate Beckinsale -- Lori Quaid
Jessica Biel -- Melina
Bryan Cranston -- Cohaagen
Bokeem Woodbine -- Harry
Bill Nighy -- Matthias
John Cho -- McClane
Will Yun Lee -- Marek
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

There was really no point in making a mindless action film based on another equally mindless action film based on a cute short story by Philip K. Dick. The basic plot of both movies and of the short story starts out with a character who longs to go to Mars, arranges to have memories of a trip to Mars as a secret agent implanted in his brain, and during the implant discovers that he really is a secret agent who went to Mars. From that point on, the three versions of the story diverge almost totally. For one thing, the woman in the Dick story only has two breasts. F&SF issue containing 'I Can Remember It For You Wholesale' by Philip K. Dick

I rented the original film, but after about fifteen minutes decided that it really was as bad as I had remembered and gave up. The new film takes off in a new direction, literally, involving tunnels through the Earth from Great Britain to Australia. The tunnels may have been inspired by a Freshman Calculus exercise: how long it would take a train falling under the force of gravity through an evacuated tunnel to travel between any two points on Earth. The answer is something like 45 minutes, and is the same no matter how far apart the two points are. This sounds like a good deal until you calculate the cost of building such a tunnel, of keeping the inside a perfect vacuum, and of insulating it against the hot magma inside the Earth. In any case, the people who made the movie must have flunked calculus, because the gravity on the train would not be anything like what they show in the movie. It would not "flip," with zero g in the middle. If the train went directly through the center (a train from Great Britain to Australia would not) it would be zero g all the way. Otherwise the direction of gravity would be toward the center, and the strength of gravity would depend on the component perpendicular to the direction of motion. Those of you who remember your Freshman calculus can work it out for yourselves.

The short story has a mildly clever twist ending that both films ignore. Just as well. It is not the kind of twist ending that would work at all in an action film.

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Copyright © 2012 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon. Visit his web site at

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