'Last Action Hero' [2014, Blu ray]
(Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin O'Brien, F. Murray Abraham, et al / Blu ray / R / (1993) 2014 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: Young Danny Madigan is a big fan of Jack Slater, a larger-than-life action hero played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. When his best friend, Nick the projectionist, gives him a magic ticket to the new Jack Slater film, Danny is transported into Slater's world, where the good guys always win.
Blu ray Verdict: By pure fluke, and not knowing this Blu ray was going to arrive, a few months back I watched 'LAST ACTION HERO' from an old DVD I came across. And boy, was it as exciting as I recalled! Indeed, now that the Blu ray arrived for review I broke it out and re-watched it and had ANOTHER incredible movie-viewing evening!
So, I am totally amazed that most of the so-called "expert" film critics at the time didn't seem to have a clue what this movie was doing! It is positively one of the tightest, most brilliant, sly, wickedly satirical action movie spoofs of all time. I am also rather amazed that Arnie actually agreed to this one; it's almost like he's biting the hand that fed him.
The biggest clue of this movie is in the opening shot, when the whole picture wipes into frame in the shape of a "movie" screen (hint, hint!) From then on, anyone with any experience at watching blockbuster action movies at all should have picked up how the scene was taking the standard setup-action pieces of the time, and then pushing them a little bit further than normal; so that they become an obvious (to most people) parody of the situation.
The close-up of the feet as Jack exits from the car is just a little closer and off-angle than normal. The ranting chief yelling at the hero that he's gonna get fired if he disobeys orders is just a little bit more heated that the standard action movie would do it. Come ON people, couldn't you get the tongue-in-cheek nature of this?
Then we fuzz out and see the "real" story - introducing Danny, our viewer's representative (played by a very adorable and very chatty Austin O'Brien). The one scene I dislike in this movie is the actual "real-life" robbery scene at Danny's home, which comes across as a little too bleak and depressing; even though it does set up the thematic contrasts in the story very well.
On the other hand, one of my all-time favorite scenes is when Danny is in school watching the Olivier version of 'Hamlet'; and he starts to drift and re-imagines the story in a modern action style. (Gee, if I had a penny for every time I've done that with a pretentious old film - well, anyway ...!)
Of course the two outstanding highlights of this movie are the police station/video store scenes in the Jack Slater movie; and the climactic show-down at the big premiere, especially when the action hero confronts the movie star: "You have caused me a lot of pain. I don't like you very much." (Y'know, I've often felt that is movie characters could come alive, some actors would have great reason to worry. Just a thought.)
All I can say is, if you can't get this, you don't really deserve to be watching movies, or even let out to the cinema. It's too complicated for you! Now re-released on Blu ray here in 2014, enjoy it for yourself - and at a cheaper-than-usual-for-blu ray price re: Mill Creek Entertainment! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.