Sunday, August 1, 2010

Total Recall of the Future

I recently watched the movie, Total Recall again for the first time in eight or nine years. I've enjoyed that movie since the first time I saw it at the theatre near the college campus. But this time I was struck most by some of the director, Paul Verhoeven's 1990 vision of the future.

What made me think to watch the movie with this in mind is the London Underground from my last few trips to the U.K. In Total Recall there's video advertisements all over the subway station, with monitors and video instead of the old paper advertisements. The same things were alongside the escalators in some of the London Underground stations. Many of the real ones were timed so that as you move up or down, each monitor you pass is just a little farther in the advertisement than the previous one.

Near the beginning Arnold Schwarzenegger as Doug, and Sharon Stone as Lori, have breakfast in front a wall that's a TV. Doug keeps turning it to a news channel to find out what's happening on Mars and Lori keeps changing it back to a pastoral scene of a lake in the mountains. While science-fiction back then is a reality now (though maybe not cheap).

Throughout the movie the characters all talk to each other via video phones. While most of our stand-alone telephone units don't have video yet, we're on our way there. At work we have video conference units that are kind of similar, and for my recent job search I used Skype with video sharing.

Then in the movie there's the scene with Lori practising her tennis swing, following along with the hologram. There isn't much detail there, but somehow that makes me think of the Nintendo Wii. I've seen photos and read descriptions of the Wii, but haven't actually seen one yet. But it looks like fun with its controller that you wave around to control the games.

At one point when Doug checks into the Hilton on Mars the clerk says there's something of his in the vault. Both of them put their thumbs on a small scanner and the drawer opens. I don't know if they had biometric stuff like that in the 80's, but now in 2010 I get into the office door using a thumb scanner.

Of course, some of the futuristic stuff is kind of corny. The cars in particular look silly and look like a cheap shell put on top of a real car. The guns the agency operatives use look silly, too.

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