See How Total Recall Used Practical Effects To Create Hover Cars

By Brent McKnight | Published

If science fiction has taught us one thing it’s that in the future things will hover. In the years to come we should see hover cities, hover skateboards, and, of course, hover cars. Nearly every promo video for director Len Wiseman’s impending Total Recall remake prominently features a sweet looking hover car chase. That’s not surprising, every action film needs a big car chase centerpiece, and a new featurette takes a look at how the production went about creating this scene.

Much has been said about the necessity of this remake, and how it looks like the exact same story as Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember it For You Wholesale.” One thing that you can appreciate, however, is that, whenever he can, Wiseman takes the most practical approach to visual effects possible.

While most movies these days would have simply rendered the hover cars in a computer, Wiseman and company actually built cars to zip around the streets and run into one another. In order to make the cars appear to be floating off of the ground, they mounted the futuristic vehicles on top of chassis that were then digitally removed. The shells bounce around, controlled by a sort of joystick, moving in a way that makes it appear they’re actually flying.

This method allowed the actors to appropriately react to other cars slamming into theirs, taking hairpin turns, and everything else that comes with high-speed pursuit. Instead of pretending, they’re legitimately responding. It gives the shots a feel of authenticity you don’t get with actors sitting in a jiggling model, feigning fright. In the end the film combines these almost-real chase scenes with some CGI streets and digitally embellished backgrounds. Stars Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel aren’t really driving hover cars at breakneck speeds, but this is about as close as you’re going to get.

Total Recall opens this Friday, August 3rd.