Even before the film was released in theaters, Len Wiseman's Total Recall created loads of confusion among fans of Paul Verhoeven's 1990 action film as well as Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” For months the "remake" filmmakers attempted to distance Total Recall 2012 from the prior movie, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of Douglas Quaid, asserting that the new film would be truer to the short story source material.
Ultimately, "truer" seems to mean more grounded - considering the new film swaps out Mars, mutants, and aliens, for a more terrestrial conflict featuring a post-apocalyptic Earth landscape, robots, and corrupt politicians. As a result, how does Total Recall (2012) compare to Total Recall (199o) as well as the "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" storyline? We've taken the time to breakdown various elements of the three plots - to help fans distinguish between Dick's original idea and Verhoeven as well as Wiseman's creative liberties.
It goes without saying that the following comparison contains MAJOR SPOILERS for both Total Recall films as well as Philip K. Dick's original narrative. If you do not want to be spoiled, look away now - and catch Total Recall (read our review) in theaters, pick up the 1990 version, and read "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale."
Start reading our Total Recall: 2012 vs 1990 vs... 1966 feature for a look at the various protagonists, locations, and conflicts in the film...