Film vs Novel – Total Recall

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You never decide to die – but you must decide to live!

I can’t believe I haven’t compared this trio yet… one of the first books I ever read back in high school when I was mad about all things Piers Anthony.

Now I didn’t picture the Mars landscape or Douglas Quaid quite like they are in the film adaptations, but nonetheless I geeked out over all three. The closest character I’ve come across in the literature to Douglas Quaid would have to be Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt – they both have that rugged, balls-to-the-wall leading man vibe (so if you enjoyed one, you may get a kick from the other.)

The book is certainly true to the classic sci-fi adventure, and is woven with plenty of mystery and intrigue, gadgets and an alien planet… and for the young pimply teen, I ate it up!

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The 1990 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger remains pretty true to the novel, while the 2012 release with Farrell, Beckinsale and Biel is clearly a loose adaptation. Although I can’t fault the special effects and storytelling of the latest cinema release – I was definitely engrossed. But I did miss the traditional ending that brought in a whole other dynamic into the story… because it’s all about the twist!

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I can see how the Farrell version kept with the secret agent/ political intrigue trope and left Mars out of the equation completely to give it an edgier feel and concentrate on the action scenes. Although when picking up the book, the fact it took place on another planet was the big draw card. But still, this mammoth film was able to produce top quality entertainment with some of my favourite actors. I’m just sad I didn’t get to a new experience on many of the other elements this film left out.

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With Schwarzenegger’s adaptation, although cutting edge effects at the time, seems somewhat camp now – and even when I first watched it I laughed out loud… especially the suffocation scene. In the book I remember the desperation as they were losing consciousness – instead I was giggling away at the bulging eyes and comically horrified expressions. I’d could explain the scene more, but given it’s near the conclusion of this story I don’t want to spoil you… and those of you who’ve only seen Farrell’s version will have no clue what I’m writing about. So go read the book, or watch the earlier film adaptation, the original story line will blow your mind!

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Another notable mention – we also got Sharon Stone while still blazing the trail of her burgeoning career (Playing Quaid’s wife).

This franchise is also famous for the three breasted woman (which they keep in both films) although the context in how he appears is completely different in each, illustrates just how different each creation is. So this is by far the most difficult comparison I’ve done to date in picking a winner. Farrell’s film adaptation has the eye candy, SPFX and political intrigue going for it, Schwarzenegger’s remains true to the original story, but loses some of the seriousness of Quaid’s dilemma through the limitation of SPFX, but the performances are great from all actors – (not like now, when all that runs through my head every time I see Arnold is ‘I’ll be back,’ or ‘It’s not a tumour.’)

The novel captured my imagination about being a spy, walking in the shoes of a big action hero, and exploring life on Mars (if only we had a female lead).

Hmmm… I guess it will have to be the novel for the win by a very narrow margin, but really it’s like comparing apples, oranges and a banana! Because really, all of them are awesome!

Total Recall Film vs Novel Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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