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Last Action Hero (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 13, 2010 by  



Similar to its 2003 DVD counterpart, “Last Action Hero” on Blu-ray is still a barebones release.  But when it comes to picture and audio quality, the Blu-ray release of “Last Action Hero” is quite solid for a film that came out in 1993.  Audiophiles who are a big fan of this film will definitely enjoy how great this film sounds via lossless!

Images courtesy of © 1993 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Last Action Hero

DURATION: 131 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Widescreen 2:40:1, English, French and Portuguese DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese

RATED: PG-13 (For Strong Action Sequences)

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: January 12, 2010

Directed by John McTiernan

Story by Zak Penn and Adam Leff

Written by Shane Black and David Arnott

Executive Producer: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Produced by John McTiernan, Stephen J. Roth

Co-Producer: Neal Dorlinger, Robert E. Relyea

Associate Producer: Robert H. Lemer

Music by Michael Kamen

Cinematography by Dean Semler

Edited by Richard A. Harris, John Wright

Casting by Janet Hirshenson, Jane Kenkins

Proudction Design by Eugenio Zanetti

Art Direction by Marek Dobrowolski, Rick Heinrichs

Set Decoration by Cindy Carr

Costume Design by Gloria Gresham

Starring:

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Jack Slater

F. Murray Abraham as John Practice

Austin O’Brien as Danny Madigan

Art Carney as Frank

Charles Dance as Bendict

Frank McRae as Lieutenant Dekker

Anthony Quinn as Tony Vivaldi

Ian McKellen as Death

Action-adventure superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger bursts through the screen as a larger-than-life movie hero in this nonstop adventure from acclaimed director John McTiernan (Predator, Die Hard).

A year after Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”, in 1993, he followed up with the summer action film “Last Action Hero”.

The film was directed by John McTiernan (“Die Hard: With a Vengeance”, “The 13th Warrior”, “The Thomas Crown Affair”) and a screenplay by Shane Black (“Lethal Weapon” films, “The Monster Squad”, “The Last Boy Scout”) and David Arnot (“The Adventures of Ford Fairlane”).  The film featured cinematography by Dean Semler (“Bruce Almighty”, “The Alamo”, “The Longest Yard”, “2012”) and music by Michael Kamen (“X-Men”, “Band of Brothers”, “Frequency)”.

An expensive film which cost around $85 million, the film was literally a spoof on action films and would feature cameos from many stars around that time.  From Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ian McKellen, Tina Turner, Robert Patrick and many more.

The film revolves around a boy named Danny Madigan (played by Austin O’Brien) who is a big fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger action films, especially his character Jack Slater.

The problem with Danny is that he rarely goes to school and it’s become a problem since he spends his time watching movies and his mother covers up for him.

With the release of “Jack Slater IV”, his friend Nick (played by Robert Prosky) who runs a very old rundown movie theater that is not doing so well, Jack gives him a sneak preview to catch the movie.  Nick also talks about how he was given a gold-ticket by Harry Houdini but never used it.

Nick tears the ticket in half and gives Danny the other half and as Danny is getting involved and enjoying the film, the ticket starts to magically work and next thing you know, Danny is inside the film for “Jack Slater IV” and in this world, things work like the movies and not real life.

As the film progresses and Danny sticks with Jack Slater and the two take on the bad guys which include the evil Englishman Benedict (played by Charles Dance).  But somehow along the way, Benedict steals Danny’s ticket and has now cross over to the real world where Danny has come from.

In the real world, Benedict starts to learn that bad guys can win and starts killing people and noticing that the police are not there to stop him.  So, Benedict comes up with an idea to stop Jack Slater and that is by killing off the real actor that plays him…Arnold Schwarznegger.

Can Jack Slater and Danny stop Benedict in time?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Last Action Hero” is featured in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1).  Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has given this film a pretty good treatment as they have with “Cliffhanger” and “Air Force One” in which they kept the film as close to what we see on the big screen, including the fine layer of grain.

For a film that is 17-years-old, the film looks good for its age and because there is so much happening throughout the film.  For example, in Danny’s world, you can see how run down the theater is, old-style seats and everything is dark and there aren’t any vibrant colors.  Until he goes into Jack Slater’s world, then colors are vibrant and much better visuals.  Definitely a major improvement from the 2003 DVD of “Last Action Hero”.

Now, where this film shines is with its lossless audio soundtrack.  Featured in English, French, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Spanish 5.1, one thing that “Last Action Hero” had when it was first released in theaters was the fact it was the first film to utilize Sony’s Dynamic Digital Sound.  Granted, at that time, many theaters weren’t equipped to play SDDS but there was concentration on the film’s audio and that is where this Blu-ray shines.

The opening sequence alone shows you that the film is going to utilize all channels and thus bringing a more immersive soundscape as you hear gun shots, explosions, crashing metal, booms all through your front, surround and rear surround channels.  Subwoofer utilizes the booms and for the most part, this is the best I have ever heard from this film.  The lossless audio soundtrack for this 1993 film is very well-done!

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Last Action Hero” comes with no major special features but is BD-Live enabled with movieIQ which allows people to obtain real-time information of the cast, music, trivia while watching the film.

When “Last Action Hero” first came out and when I watched in the theaters, I figured a pairing with director John McTiernan and Arnold Schwarznegger (known for their action films) would be a wonderful pairing.  But I can remember how impatient I was getting because the film seemed so long (especially at 131 minutes).  I felt that the arc where Danny is in Jack Slater’s world tend to drag quite a bit.

But I admit that I enjoyed how it was a satire of action films and also featured cameos by many celebrities.  By the third and final arc, things started to get more interesting as Jack Slater is pulled out of his magical world and now having to deal with this new world that he is quite unaware of.  For the most part, “Last Action Hero” was a good popcorn flick but I do remember that since it came right after “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”, there was high expectations.

Needless to say, despite what the critics may have felt about the film, “Last Action Hero” did well in the worldwide box office and even some appreciating the film much more now than when it first came out in theaters back in 1993.

For those who purchased the 2003 DVD and are big fans of the film, you maybe wondering if the Blu-ray is worth buying.  The bad news is that there are no special features on this Blu-ray unless you have BD-Live and you can take advantage of the movieIQ function.  But other than that, I’m still amazed that for a film that was quite expensive, featured so many talent did not have any featurette created for it.  No commentary, no theatrical trailer, there is no special features and to me, that’s surprising.  But the Blu-ray is a major step up in picture and audio quality and that is where fans of the film will appreciate its HD release on Blu-ray.

Overall, “Last Action Hero” on Blu-ray is literally a barebones Blu-ray release but for Schwarzenegger or McTiernan fans and those who truly enjoyed this film will definitely enjoy it much more with its video and audio upgrade.






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Comments

  • The most important thing is that director Len Wiseman stays true to the original formula. He could have gone for showy CGI or tried to be too self-referential. Instead, we get an uncomplicated plot, real stunts and a script which makes the most of Willis.

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