Last Action Hero was Sony’s big 1993 summer movie and up against Universal’s Jurassic Park – and we know how that fight turned out, although if you haven’t seen this Arnie actioner, you really should as it deserves much better press.
Okay, so this film took a real beating in critical terms, but I still really enjoyed it and it’s a great piece of entertainment, but due to the occasional violence in it, it ended up getting a 15-certificate which stopped it from appealing to the kind of 10-year-old kids we see in Danny (Austin O’Brien). As such, while it’s great that it doesn’t compromise, this means it also falls between two stools as a lot of adults will see a whiny kid and avoid it, while a lot of kids will want to watch a film where someone of their age becomes part of a blockbuster movie, but won’t be allowed because of the age rating.
Still, about the film itself, young Danny Madigan is a massive fan of action hero Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger playing a rather neat parody of his then-massively popular screen roles, and most recently on the big screen again in Terminator: Dark Fate). He knows projectionist Nick (Robert Prosky) like a best mate and gets the chance to see the character’s fourth outing before the general public do – and who wouldn’t want to do that? Better still, Nick’s a bit… well… odd isn’t a kind word, but for some reason he has a magic ticket which Danny soon finds transports himself into the film itself, where Jack is doing battle against baddie Benedict (Charles Dance) and the heroine of the hour is Meredith (Bridgette Wilson).
However, things change when the action ends up in the real world and consequences are soon felt, which provides an interesting twist to proceedings as well as comic effect, such as when Jack ‘opens’ a car by punching through the window and is surprised how much it hurts.
Last Action Hero was big, bold and ambitious and it’s not a film which should be taken seriously. I still remember seeing this in the cinema*, at Manchester Showcase, and the room was packed and everyone enjoyed it!
I would say the only thing which affected the box office receipts is that while it’s a PG13 in the US, the action is a bit too violent for the BBFC, so instead of a 12-cert (at the time, before 12A came in, in 2002), so it was classified 15, thus reducing the audience… and it was clearly partially aimed at teenagers, given the presence of Danny.
(*to the point where the screen image was slightly masked in error, making the film look a bit wider than it should be, but it was corrected about 30 minutes after the start. Then again, these days, cinemas don’t even have projectionists checking anything on-the-fly, the cinema staff just put a hard drive in, program in the timings for the adverts and lighting – badly, in Vue’s case – and let it run by itself, only discovering problems on the film’s first playthough, as I’ve experienced myself with Mary Poppins Returns).
With the film looking at its best date, and the explosions as big as ever, the extras are an issue.
Like the 2010 Blu-ray, the cover is the same. The main menu of the 4K disc shows a muscly Arnie swinging out of a movie screen with Danny under his arm. This one? Erm… well, look and see. It’s rubbish. What on earth were Sony thinking? Again?!
The main menu of the Blu-ray features clips from the film, but for both menus, they feature a burst of the score to accompany them. For the 4K it’s more of a fantasy piece, while the Blu-ray is more rocky. Neither will be picked up, specifically, by Shazam.
In fact, while the Blu-ray never contained any real extras – and this is the same disc as the 2010 release – the only ‘extra’ on it is the link for BD Live – the service which allowed you to discuss the film with others, as if you were all somehow watching it from the beginning and all at the same time… So, Twitter, basically. It was rubbish, it never caught on despite a few studios using it, and the service was discontinued around 2016. Hence, when you click on the link, it tries to connect, but then says “Please confirm your player is connected to the Internet”. Well, it’s a PS5 so, yes, it is.
Concentrating on the 4K disc only, as that’s where the only real extras are – such that they are, and they’re as follows:
- Original Behind The Scenes featurette (6:36): While it’s nice to have something of this film’s age included, the extra is presented in 16:9, so movie clips are cropped. Then again, some of them were 4:3-cropped clips stretched to 16:9, just to add insult to injury.
- Deleted and Alternate scenes (9:08): 6 scenes including a fun one where some kids come up to Jack in the real world, thinking he’s Arnie.
Of course, 28 years on, it’s a bit late in the day for me to suggest it should go back into the film.
- AC/DC – Big Gun video (4:46): The music video featuring Arnie.
- Theatrical Trailer (1:27): More a teaser, really. It’s in 16:9, and is the one with content not from the film, where Arnie approaches the cinema screen, says, “Not now, later…” and it ends soon after. It’s pretty cool.
- Audio commentary: from director John McTiernan
Languages and subtitles for both discs are detailed below. There are 16 chapters for the film on both discs, which is better than most studios, who just use 12, but still could do with more, especially for a film running over two hours. I go by the rule of thumb of one every five minutes.
Running time: 131 minutes
Released: May 17th 2021
Chapters: 16 (on both discs)
Picture: 2160p High Definition (4K Blu-ray); 1080p High Definition (Blu-ray)
Widescreen: 2.39:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: BD100 and BD50
4K Blu-ray disc:
Languages: English (Dolby Atmos – Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible, 5.1 DTS-HD MA, 2.0 DTS-HD MA), Czech 5.1, French (5.1, Dolby Surround), German 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Hungarian 5.1, Italian 5.1, Polish 5.1, Spanish (Castilian) 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish (Latin American) 5.1, Thai Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American), Swedish, Thai
Languages: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English, French, German)
Subtitles: English SDH, French, German, Arabic, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Swedish, Turkish
Director: John McTiernan
Producers: John McTiernan, Steve Roth
Screenplay: Shane Black, David Arnott
Music: Michael Kamen
Jack Slater: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Danny Madigan: Austin O’Brien
Benedict: Charles Dance
Nick: Robert Prosky
Lt Dekker: Frank McRae
Ripper: Tom Noonan
John Practice: F. Murray Abraham
Tony Vivaldi: Anthony Quinn
Irene Madigan: Mercedes Ruehl
Whitney/Meredith: Bridgette Wilson
Frank: Art Carney
Death: Ian McKellen
Teacher: Joan Plowright
The Mayor: Tina Turner
T-1000: Robert Patrick
Catherine Tramell: Sharon Stone
Whiskers (voice): Danny De Vito
Themselves: James Belushi, Chevy Chase, MC Hammer, Little Richard, Maria Shriver, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Melvin Van Peebles, Damon Wayans
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.