• Last Action Hero, The (DVD)



    Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment
    Released on: March 22nd, 2014.
    Director: John McTiernan
    Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin O'Brien, F. Murray Abraham, Art Carney, Charles Dance
    Year: 1993
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    The Movie:

    A fun mix of action, comedy and satire, The Last Action Hero should have been an action movie fan’s dream come true, what with Arnold Schwarzenegger, then the biggest star in the world, getting in front of the camera for director John McTiernan for the first time since they made Predator. The guy who made Die Hard directing the guy from the Terminator? Sign me up! What the made together, however, was a PG-13 rated kid friendly comedy that at the time seemed to take a lot of people by surprise with its playfulness and its flat out goofiness.

    The movie follows a kid named Danny (Austin O’Brien) who loves the action packed Jack Slater movies so much he’s seen the third one six times in the theater. With the release of the fourth film just around the corner, Danny’s pretty stoked, especially when the local theater’s weird old projectionist invites him to a special advance screening of the movie. What kid wouldn’t want to see the summer’s hottest film before everyone else on his block? What Danny’s doesn’t realize is that Houdini once played in this same theater and that his magic is still alive and well. Before you know it, Danny’s in the film with Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger) himself. Once he realizes he’s in the movie, he’s able to help Jack solve crime after crime but Jack, not knowing anything outside of his movie life existence, doesn’t believe Danny when he continually tries to prove to him that what’s happening to them isn’t real. Soon, however, Jack starts to realize that Danny really does know more than a kid should and starts to give his theories a bit more credence. The two pair up to stop the criminals in Jack’s world from ruining the day while trying to figure out how to get Danny back to his own world without bringing any of the villains back with him.

    The film is full of references to Hollywood blockbusters, action films specifically but not wholly. Watch when Danny and Jack show up at the police station for the first time and you’ll see Sharon Stone and Robert Patrick reprising familiar roles and Jean Claude Van Damme pops up in a small cameo as do MC Hammer, Chevy Chase, James Belushi and more. The scene in the Blockbuster Video store features a cardboard stand up display with Sylvester Stallone in place of Schwarzenegger promotion Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Arnold uses pretty much all of his catch phrases, ‘I’ll be back’ in particular while on the shelves in the video store VHS boxes for Die Hard and The Hunt For Red October, both directed by John McTiernan, are prominently displayed. There’s even a reference to Amadeus. Little bits like this make the film a lot of fun for movie fans, as much of the referential humor is on the subtle side and isn’t always obvious. Referencing everything from buddy cop movies like the Lethal Weapon films to The Twilight Zone, there’s always something going on in the movie, be it an appearance from Humphrey Bogart himself or a fun poke at one of Schwarzenegger’s own filmography.

    The film suffers from pacing in some spots and maybe runs a little longer than it needs to, but Schwarzenegger and O’Brien have a surprisingly good chemistry together there, both handling the comedic aspects of the picture better than you’d probably expect them to. The plot is interesting in that it takes all of the action movie clichés we all know so well and essentially turns them into a large part of the story, but there are still enough fun twists and surprises worked in the script, which was rewritten twice before filming started, that the movie works quite well.

    Lots of big, dumb action ensures that the film is a pretty exciting one while some fun supporting performances from the likes of F. Murray Abraham, Sir Ian McKellen, and Art Carney round out the cast nicely.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Last Action hero was released on DVD years back but the transfer was fullframe. A Blu-ray came out from Sony afterwards, but there was no DVD of the film released in its proper 2.40.1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio in North America until this recent reissue from Mill Creek. The transfer on this disc looks like it was taken from the same master used for the Blu-ray and that’s a good thing. The image is clean, colorful and stable, free of any major print damage. Skin looks natural, blacks are solid. There are a few minor compression artifacts in some of the darker scenes but otherwise, this disc looks good.

    The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track on the disc is also solid. There’s good channel separation evident throughout, strong bass response and there are no issues with any hiss or distortion.

    Aside from menus and chapter stops, there are no extras on the DVD.

    The Final Word:

    The Last Action Hero may not be in the upper echelon of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies but it’s a fun mix of action and comedy that pokes some good natured fun at the Hollywood machine. It’s a fun film in the truest sense of the word and it’s hard not to have a good time with this one. Those who haven’t gone Blu-ray and want this one in its proper aspect ratio will definitely appreciate this reissue from Mill Creek.