Last Action Hero [Blu-Ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (4th April 2010).
The Film

Let me take you back to 1993, David Koresh and his kooky band of cultists locked themselves in the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas which was raided by the ATF, Michael Jordan retired from professional basketball (the first time), Lorena Bobbitt who cut off her husband penis went on trial, the biggest selling boy band of the last several years; The New Kids on the Block called it quits to the dismay of their millions of fans, The final episode of "Cheers" (1982-1993) was broadcast, drug overlord Pablo Escobar is shot dead in Columbia, Prince changes his name to that stupid symbol thing, Wrestling great André the Giant died, the U.S. raid on Somalia fails with two black hawks are shot down and 18 soldiers lost their lives and the biggest movie showdown took place in the summer, Schwarzenegger vs. CG dinosaurs. What a crazy year! It was an incredible showdown that was publicized everywhere, Steven Spielberg's immense blockbuster "Jurassic Park" (1993) was the one to beat, and Columbia Pictures thought they had their trump card with "Last Action Hero" and after the bankability of the film's star in the 90's it's not hard to see why Columbia thought they had a winner on their hands... but to go against "Jurassic Park" was just foolhardy, no film could have stopped that mammoth production steamrolling right along and claiming the top box office of that year (which proved to be a fantastic year for Spielberg who would later win an Oscar with that other film he released that year... "Schindler's List" (1993)). Needless to say Schwarzenegger and crew tried their best but unless your film had photo real dinosaurs I don't think anyone really cared.

"Last Action Hero" isn't a band film despite being Schwarzenegger's first major flop. It's an entertaining film but there's nothing much more to it, it's a thin plot and overall a gimmicky premise, but features some comedic moments and entertaining action, however the film tends to fall flat with hammy acting and dialogue, and a mountain full of cheesy moments that'll have you roll your eyes. In many ways this plays out like a tongue-in-cheek spoof of the over-the-top action films that the star has been a party to for the better part of his career... it's just not as funny or clever as it tries to be, and that's one of the sore points of this film that hurt it's reception. That and it was competing again CG dinosaurs... seriously CG dinosaurs option was way better than anything released that summer.

"Last Action Hero" tells the story Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien), an action movie fan. Danny's favorite hero is Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a popular action character whose featured in numerous films. The new Jack Slater adventure is coming out and Danny really wants to see it, his pal Nick (Robert Prosky) a projectionist at a rundown theater gives Danny a magic ticket. Danny sneaks out one night to see the film and finds himself transported into the movie and finds himself teaming up with Jack Slater to defeat the bad guys, including one of Slater's most feared enemies, the hitman Benedict (Charles Dance). However, things don't go according to traditional Hollywood action movie principles as Benedict gets a hold of the magic ticket that transports him to the real world.

The whole basis of this film is taking the excesses and cliches of the Hollywood action movie and turning it on its head and poking fun at the whole establishment... instead the filmmakers delivered a patchy and flawed picture that seemed to embrace the cliches more than make fun of them. The jokes tend to fall a little flat and the delivery is hammy at best, the latter is not the fault of the script but rather the actors who don't really know anything about comedic timing... even Schwarzenegger, whose taken a hand at comedies before doesn't fare too well here. The script by Shane Black and David Arnott seems like it needed further development. Either that or Columbia Pictures hired the wrong writers, if you want serious satirize a genre then you hire Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer et al... can you image an action/comedy/satire written by the guys that brought you "This is Spinal Tap" (1984), "Waiting for Guffman" (1996), "Best in Show" (2000) and "A Mighty Wind" (2003)? It could either have been one of the greatest satires of action movies or a total mess... but guaranteed better than what Shane Black and David Arnott have cobbled together, or perhaps they could have gone with Adam Leff and Zak Penn's original script entitled "Extremely Violent" before studio decided to water it down and soften it up for a 'PG-13' rating. Shane Black would later redeem himself with the brilliant "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" (2005) and David Arnott never wrote again, probably for the best.

Now let's talk about the cast... Schwarzenegger is the consummate entertainer, he tries his best and it's a 50/50 mixed bag, the action is fun and exciting and light enough to entertain the kids as well but the comedy is roughly delivered. I never really liked Schwarzenegger in any of his comedic films, he's far better suited kicking ass and taking names later. The balance here is never spot on, which is a major problem with this film and the least that can be said about co-star Austin O'Brien the better... he is simply terrible, annoying and irritating. Every other actor in this film hams it up to extremes that you'll be rolling your eyes often, even the seasoned pros like F. Murray Abraham, Charles Dance and Tom Noonan. Ian McKellen as Death was about the only one that didn't ham it up too much.

"Last Action Hero" is not a terrible film, it's just not a good one. Some of it works and some of it simply doesn't, a better script and some extra time in the casting department could have made this a classic, instead it's a film that Dinosaurs drove into the ground and it was the start of Schwarzenegger downfall as a major box office draw (aside from "True Lies" released the following year) Schwarzenegger would follow this film with "Eraser" (1996), "Jingle All the Way" (1996), "Batman & Robin" (1997), "End of Days" (1999), "The 6th Day" (2000) and "Collateral Damage" (2002), every single one a major disappointment.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 in 1080p 24/fps HD mastered with AVC MPEG-4 compression. The result is pretty good for a film that's 17 years-old, it's far from being reference quality but for what it is it does a pretty decent job. Sharpness is consistent, however there are a few soft shots here and there, some close-ups look a bit waxy, with some DNR applied. This can be distracting at times. The real world scenes are a little too dark, with visibility suffering the most, the drab colors are accurate to the aesthetic of these scenes. The in-movie scenes are nicely lit with golden sun-kissed hues, resulting in a more naturalistic picture. Detail is good, but not consistently solid as some shots fare better than others (the night scenes are an obvious example). Textures are fine, some specks are seen here and there so a full clean-up of the transfer hasn't been done. Overall it's an average image that could use a bit more sprucing up but it's far from unwatchable.

Audio

Sony has released this film with an option to view in four languages. The primary default track on the disc is the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track mixed at 48kHz/24-bit, other options include French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround also mixed at 48kHz/24-bit, Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 in 48kHz/24-bit as well and finally in Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. For the purposes of the film I chose to view the film in it English DTS-HD audio. This audio track is a significant improvement over the standard 5.1 track from the older DVD edition. First impressions are that depth and clarity are vastly improved, with a decent amount of range balancing the dialogue with the big action set-pieces seen throughout the film. The mix is solid, offering a wide-range of natural sound effects and ambient sounds that immerse the viewer in both the reality world and the in-movie world of the film. Capping off the overall sound track is the score and the rumbling bass that kicks in during those exciting action moments. It's a terrific track that presents the film's audio well, my only quibble is that the track is mixed a little too loud at times I found myself having to lower the volume during the action scenes only to increase it again once the dialogue kicks back in.
Optional subtitles are included in English, English for the hearing impaired, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Extras

The only thing Sony has included on this disc are a collection of bonus trailers and the "MovieIQ" interactive feature. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

The bonus trailers are for:

-" The Da Vinci Code" runs for 1 minute 6 seconds.
- "Ghostbusters" runs for 1 minute 23 seconds.
- "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" runs for 1 minute 34 seconds.
- "A River Runs Through It" runs for 2 minutes 42 seconds.
- "Angels & Demons" 1 minute 11 seconds.
- "Michael Jackson's This is It" 2 minutes 31 seconds.
- "Armored" runs for 2 minutes 31 seconds.
- "The Stepfather" runs for 2 minutes 32 seconds.
- "Soul Power" 1 minute 58 seconds.
- "It Might Get Loud" runs for 2 minutes 26 seconds.

The only Blu-ray exclusive extras are the BD-Live access for profile 2.0 players that allow users access to the Sony online portal.

The other extra is the "Sony's MovieIQ" interactive feature, which is essentially a trivia track that offers up information as you view the film. The information is nothing that you couldn't already find online so it's a rather weak extra, I;d have much rather preferred at the very least an audio commentary from the filmmakers offering up their explanation for this patchy mess of a film.

Overall

The Film: D Video: C+ Audio: B+ Extras: F Overall: D+