DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


John McTiernan
Arnold Schwarzenegger, F. Murray Abraham, Art Carney, Charles Dance, Austin O'Brien
Writing Credits:
Zak Penn (story), Adam Leff (story), Shane Black, David Arnott

Did Someone Say Action?

Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien) knows all the first 3 Jack Slater (Arnold Schwzrzenegger) movies in and out. The 4th one is just about to be released too, and with a magical ticket Danny really gets to know that movie in and out too, literaly speaking. During one of the action climaxes Danny is transported into the movie, into a world following other rules than the real one. Benedict, one of the evil guys, gets hold of the ticket and escapes out to the real world, a world where evil guys can actually win. Danny and Jack follow him back to the real world to get back the ticket and stop Benedict from killing the actor playing Jack.

Box Office:
$85 million.
Opening Weekend
$15.338 million on 2500 screens.
Domestic Gross
$50.016 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16X9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 130 min.
Price: $14.94
Release Date: 10/7/1997

• None


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Last Action Hero (1993)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 14, 2010)

Prior to the summer of 1993, many expected to see a box-office showdown between Jurassic Park and Last Action Hero. Basically, the season was billed as Arnie vs. the T-Rex, with all the other films left to pick up their crumbs.

It didn't quite turn out that way. Jurassic Park went on to make hundreds of millions of dollars and earned a spot among the top grossing films of all-time. Last Action Hero, on the other hand, didn't even make it near $100 million dollars, and it almost ruined Schwarzenegger's career. Chief Wiggum summed it up for millions of mocking moviegoers: "Magic ticket my ass!"

Young Danny (Austin O’Brien) adores movies, and he can’t wait for the new effort from Arnold Schwarzenegger. His projectionist pal Nick (Robert Prosky) gives Danny the chance to preview Jack Slater IV at an exclusive midnight screening.

To enter this show, Danny must use a special ticket. It turns out that it possesses magical properties, and Danny ends up sucked into the world of the film. There he interacts with Jack Slater himself (Schwarzenegger). Danny tries to figure out how to get back to the real world and stop some baddies who want to leave the movie themselves and wreck havoc on our side of the screen.

It may not be a popular position to take, but I have to admit that I actually liked Last Action Hero. I didn't bother to see it theatrically until it had made it to the bargain theaters, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was no classic, but it was much more entertaining and watchable than the absurd mess I expected to find.

I think Last Action Hero was a film that confused the audience. Previews made it hard to tell if the film was a comedy, an action film, a spoof, or fantasy. The film itself made the situation worse. Frequently movies comes with bad ad campaigns that misrepresent those flicks. However, not only did Last Action Hero's promotional message muddy the issue, the film itself frequently seemed unclear as to what it wants to be.

Most likely this happened because the filmmakers really wanted to have it all. They wanted Last Action Hero to be the biggest, boldest, most exciting action film made, but they also wanted to make a loving spoof of the genre. As such, the film offered plenty of straight action scenes - especially toward the end - along with liberal doses of attempted wackiness and irreverence.

In the end, they ended up with a very mixed bag. In truth, I find the concept compelling, and the makers of Scream used a similar self-referential tone to great effect. The main problem is that Hero attempts to reach beyond the grasp of its participants. Had Last Action Hero been made by more skilled and deft filmmakers, it could have been exciting and funny all at the same time. The problem stems from the fact that at no point is the film half as clever or witty as its creators seem to think it is.

Nonetheless, I find Last Action Hero to be a compelling and exciting joy ride. It's one film that has to be cliché; much of its point is to show the hackneyed conventions of action movies, so it gets to revel in these sorts of scenes. Because of the purposefully artificial nature of the film's universe, it also gets to ratchet the action up a notch with ridiculously absurd sequences; it's all part of the joke.

In the end, it's really best to take Last Action Hero as a fantasy action film and basically ignore the attempts at humor, as these invariably fall flat. Though many of the jokes aim to mock the genre and come from the "so lame they're funny" style of comedy, they don't get there; the jokes are just bad, period. Get past that and the film can offer a fun diversion.

The DVD Grades: Picture D+/ Audio A-/ Bonus F

Last Action Hero appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Hero hit DVD barely half a year into the format’s existence, and it crammed 130 minutes of movie onto one crummy little layer.

That meant problems became inevitable. I will admit that I expected Hero to look worse than it did; while clearly flawed, it wasn’t an awful viewing experience. Nonetheless, it came with a consistent array of problems.

Sharpness occasionally looked pretty good, though not on a consistent basis. Close-ups tended to be fairly tight and well-defined, but wider shots showed more concerns. Moderate edge haloes marred these segments, and they tended to seem tentative and fuzzy. Occasional instances of jagged edges and moiré effects appeared, and sporadic instances of source flaws also came into the picture. These weren’t major, but I saw more than a handful of specks and marks.

Colors tended to be drab. Even with a bright, broad palette, the hues usually lacked vivacity. They took on a dull sheen that meant that failed to deliver much life. Blacks were inky and flat, while shadows tended to be heavy. Much of the movie looked too dark, especially in low-light scenes; those suffered from a denseness that made them tough to watch. Again, this wasn’t the worst transfer I’ve seen, but it had a lot of problems.

On the other hand, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack for Last Action Hero came with very few reasons for complaint. Indeed, if I had to gripe about one thing, it would be the excessive low-end response, and I don’t think that was an accident. Given the movie’s bigger than life tone, it made sense for the track to provide exaggerated bass. I found it to become something of a distraction, but it did fit with the film’s sensibility.

Otherwise, audio quality was solid. Speech seemed natural and concise; the large number of looped lines became a mild distraction, but they sounded fine. Music was rich and vibrant, and effects provided good pop. Again, bass was more prominent than I’d like, but the overall quality of the various effects seemed positive; those elements came across as full and clear.

The soundfield provided a nearly constant level of activity. With one action scene after another, the flick offered an environment that used all the channels in a satisfying manner. Gunfire and explosions filled the room, and car chases zoomed around the setting. Quieter sequences seemed pleasing as well; rain and other elements used the speakers to flesh out the environments. Even after 17 years, this remained a very pleasing auditory experience.

Alas, no extras appear on this DVD. Not even a trailer makes an appearance – boo!

After almost 17 years, Last Action Hero remains a much reviled flick. If you were like most people and skipped this one because of all the negative reactions, you may want to give it a chance and see what you think. I won’t claim it’s a classic, but I think it’s more entertaining than its awful reputation would indicate. The DVD boasts very good audio, but it suffers from flawed visuals and it includes no extras. I think this is a fun movie, but the DVD doesn’t serve it especially well.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.9482 Stars Number of Votes: 58
8 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main