Total Recall (1990)
Schwarzenegger’s character leads a rather mundane life (albeit with a very attractive wife), so he seeks out a virtual vacation at Rekall. Unfortunately, things go awry, reality becomes questionable, and he encounters a woman with three breasts. This was really when Arnold was at his cheesy action sci-fi movie best, complete with some fantastic one-liners… “Consider that a divorce!”
To be sure, the CG and special effects pale in comparison to what we can have today, but the original Total Recall was well ahead of its time. We have some great “mutant” makeup, more than a few visual effects that would have astounded audiences at the time, and an intriguing multi-layered story that keeps you guessing about what is and isn’t real. Total Recall is a thoroughly enjoyable Martian romp with ample action, crude comedy, and even some drama. The special features on the DVD/Blu-ray are quite interesting too, giving you insights into a movie that is now over 20 years old.
The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
There is just something positively beautiful about the work of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. From Spirited Away to My Neighbor Totoro, the films are positively gorgeous and they do a stellar job of drawing you into the stories of their characters. We saw this with Ponyo on the Cliff, just as we did with Howl’s Moving Castle.
So imagine how excited I was to see The Secret World of Arrietty on Blu-ray. Arrietty is a Thumbelina-like character who lives between the floors of people’s houses. They “borrow” the little things that they need–a sugar cube can last them a month or more–and carry on with their little existence, trying not to get noticed. But then, not surprisingly, she does get noticed one day by a young boy who is visiting the home.
The young boy is terminally ill with some unnamed disease and, although she is naturally hesitant, Arrietty forms a bond and a friendship with this boy. Meanwhile, the maid also discovers Arrietty’s little family and endeavors to capture or eliminate them. As with all other Miyazaki films, the visuals here are breathtaking (especially on Blu-ray), but my heart wasn’t touched quite as much as it was with movies from Studio Ghibli. It’s still endearing, but there is far less a sense of “adventure” than other Miyazaki films, most likely because the action rarely extends beyond the house.
As an aside, I opted to watch it in Japanese, though an English dub is also available. I feel movies like this are just better served in their original language, but that’s another discussion for another day.