Last Action Hero
-Columbia Pictures (1993)
A kid is given a magical ticket that allows him to go into his favorite film hero's newest release.
Unlike what many may believe, this film isn't a complete loss. In fact, it's really funny up to a certain point. The protagonist is Jack Slater, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who's an action hero of enormous proportions. His world is every film action movie stereotype rolled into one, and there are some great laughs when we are treated to it.
It takes to long to get there, though. We are forced to follow the back-story of Danny Madigan; a kid whose life sucks and his only escape is seeing his favorite hero Jack Slater on the big screen. The kid's setup is interesting, but rather boring. It takes forever for all the crappy things to happen to him before he gets the magical Houdini ticket, which is one of the stupidest things Iíve ever heard of. The ticket is what allows him to go into the movie world of Jack Slater, and I think the screenwriters couldn't think of a better way to get there so they had a contest to see who could come up with the dumbest idea with the Houdini thing winning hands down.
When we finally get to Jack's world the movie actually becomes fun to watch. The self-reflection on Arnold and the life that Hollywood presents to us is hilarious. Fun and hi-jinks ensue until the movie becomes a horribly complicated mess. The main villain, Benedict, figures out how to get into our world and begins to cause havoc. Jack follows him into the "real" world, and both must deal with the radical differences in the real world. This isn't all bad, but the film starts taking itself a little too seriously at this point with the whole issue of bad guys can win in our world concept floating about.
Benedict realizes that he can get villains from other films and bring them into our world in an effort to become a god. At one point he mentions the idea of bringing a villain like Dracula to have free reign in our world. I have to question this guy's intelligence. Who would be dumb enough to think that they could control the worst evil imaginable, but also an evil that is ten times more powerful than themselves? Benedict killed his own boss to be number one, how could he expect others like him to obey his will? Nevertheless the first plan of action is to destroy Jack Slater. To do so Benedict pulls nemesis, film named Ripper, out of Jack's previous film. This move makes a lot more sense than the stupid idea to bring Dracula and Freddy Kruger to life.
There's still some life left in Last Action Hero despite the screenwriters' best efforts to kill it. There are some great gags that involve the "real life" Arnold and Maria Shriver that are hilarious. Unfortunately, this about where the movie stops being intentionally funny.
After Jack dispatches his two greatest enemies, the filmmakers commit a huge breach of structure by deciding that resolving the film's biggest problem wasn't enough, but the damn thing had to keep going.
Jack is fatally injured by Benedict and it's a race against time and the audience's patience to save him. For some ungodly reason the writers thought it was a good idea to have Death stalking around to make us think that Jack is going to die from a gunshot wound that wouldn't even hurt in his world. Instead, it creates an urge to stop watching. The worst part of this whole situation is that by the time Death reaches Jack it is revealed that he wasn't after Jack in the first place. He was just kind of checking things out. Ha Ha viewer, there never was any danger to Jack! We just wasted your fucking time!
So Jack lives, goes back home, and the audience has been screwed by two endings to a film that was a lot longer than it should have been. I've read before what a disaster it was to make the film, and how often the screenplay was rewritten or tweaked. If it's any indication, there are four writers credited with story and screenplay. It really shows when you watch this film. I think Last Action Hero is best watched about halfway through; you get a pretty decent comedy until you do yourself a favor and turn it off if your not a big Arnold fan.
There are some really great extras on this disc that include interactive menus, a Dolby digital 5.1 mix, multiple languages, subtitles, chapter selections, and widescreen/fullscreen picture formats. Come on! An interactive menu is not an extra. At least the disc has 5.1 Dolby digital.
If you like this movie buy this version, because I doubt it will come out in a form any better than this.