Total Recall, director Paul Verhoeven's mega-budget sci-fi action blockbuster from 1990, began its production life as a very different movie. An adaptation of the Philip K. Dick short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale", it was originally conceived of with Richard Dreyfuss starring as a Walter-Mitty-like character who experiences a variety of artificially induced fantasies. But with Arnold Schwarzenegger on board, the final version took a rather different direction. The Austrian Oak plays a normal working man who discovers his entire reality has been invented to conceal a scheme for planetary domination on Mars. Oscar-winning special effects and violent action propel the twisting plot, in which Arnold manipulates his manipulators in a world of dazzling high technology. Verhoeven (Robocop, Starship Troopers) indulges his usual penchant for gratuitous bloodshed, but the movie has enough cleverness to rise above its excesses.