Last Action Hero
Last Action Hero is a 1993 American fantasy action comedy film directed and produced by John McTiernan and co-written by Shane Black and David Arnott. It is a satire of the action genre and associated clichés, containing several parodies of action films in the form of films within the film. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Jack Slater, a Los Angeles police detective within the Jack Slater action film franchise, while Austin O'Brien co-stars as Danny Madigan, a boy magically transported into the Slater universe, and Charles Dance as Mr. Benedict, a ruthless assassin from the Slater universe who escapes to the real world. Schwarzenegger also served as the film's executive producer and plays himself as the actor portraying Jack Slater.
Last Action Hero
Last Action Hero failed to meet the studio's expectations at the box office, and was both a critical and commercial disappointment. The film later found commercial success with its VHS release, establishing itself as a cult classic. The film was also Art Carney's last appearance in a motion picture before his death in 2003.
Danny Madigan is a ten-year-old boy living in a crime-ridden area of New York City with his widowed mother, Irene. Following his father's death, Danny takes comfort in watching action movies, especially a series featuring the indestructible Los Angeles cop, Jack Slater, at his local movie theater owned by Nick, who also acts as the projectionist. Nick gives Danny a golden ticket once owned by Harry Houdini, to see an early screening of Jack Slater IV before its official release.
Slater becomes despondent upon learning the truth, as well as his mortality in the real world, but cheers up after spending some time with Irene. Meanwhile, Benedict devises a plan to kill the actor portraying Slater in the movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, after which he can bring other villains from other movies into the real world and take over. To help, Benedict brings the Ripper, the villain of Jack Slater III, to the premiere of Jack Slater IV to assassinate Schwarzenegger. Danny and Slater learn of this and race there. Slater saves Schwarzenegger and kills the Ripper. Benedict appears and shoots Slater, critically injuring him. Danny subdues and disarms Benedict, allowing Slater to grab his revolver and shoot Benedict in his explosive glass eye, killing him; however, the blast causes the stub to be lost. With Slater losing blood, Danny knows that the only way to save him is to return him to the fictional world, where he is indestructible.
Last Action Hero was an original screenplay by Zak Penn and Adam Leff, meant to parody typical action-film screenplays of writers such as Shane Black. Penn himself noted that the studio ironically then had Black rewrite the script. The original screenplay differs heavily from the finished film and is widely available to read online. Although it was still a parody of Hollywood action films, it was set almost entirely in the film world and focused largely on the futile cycle of violence displayed by the hero and the effect it had on people around him. Due to the radical changes, Penn and Leff were eventually credited with the story of the film, but not the screenplay.
At the time of its release, the film was billed as "the next great summer action movie" and many movie insiders predicted it would be a huge blockbuster, especially following the success of Schwarzenegger's previous film, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The film premiered in Westwood, Los Angeles on June 13, 1993, and entered general release in the United States five days later.
Schwarzenegger states that he tried to persuade his coproducers to postpone the film's June 18 release in the United States by four weeks, but they turned a deaf ear on the grounds that the film would have lost millions of dollars in revenue for every weekend of the summer it ended up missing, also fearing that delaying the release would create negative publicity. He told the authors of Hit And Run that while everyone involved with the production had given their best effort, their attempt to appeal to both action and comedy fans resulted in a film that appealed to neither audience and ultimately succumbed to heavy competition.
Last Action Hero received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 39% based on 51 reviews and an average rating of 5.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Last Action Hero has most of the right ingredients for a big-budget action spoof, but its scattershot tone and uneven structure only add up to a confused, chaotic mess." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 44 out of 100 based on 19 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4, writing that despite some entertaining moments, Last Action Hero "plays more like a bright idea than like a movie that was thought through. It doesn't evoke the mystery of the barrier between audience and screen the way Woody Allen did in The Purple Rose of Cairo, and a lot of the time it simply seems to be standing around commenting on itself." Vincent Canby likened the film to "a two-hour Saturday Night Live sketch" and called it "something of a mess, but a frequently enjoyable one".Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly wrote: "Last Action Hero makes such a strenuous show of winking at the audience (and itself) that it seems to be celebrating nothing so much as its own awfulness. In a sense, the movie's incipient commercial failure completes it aesthetically." Variety called it "a joyless, soulless machine of a movie, an $80 million-plus mishmash of fantasy, industry in-jokes, self-referential parody, film-buff gags and too-big action set-pieces." Halliwell's Film Guide described it as "a film that tries to have it both ways, simultaneously mocking and celebrating the conventions of action movies, which leaves audiences, as well as the actors and director, in a state of bewildered confusion". John Ferguson of Radio Times was more positive, awarding it four stars out of five and stating, "An Arnold Schwarzenegger backlash had been on the cards for some time and when this extravaganza was released the knives were well and truly out. It was actually all a little unfair, because this is a smart, funny blockbuster [...] Schwarzenegger has rarely been better and he is backed up by a never-ending stream of star names in cameo roles [...] And, although McTiernan has fun spoofing the conventions of the action genre, he still manages to slip in some spectacular set pieces."
Schwarzenegger blamed the film's poor performance on bad press and the election of Democratic president Bill Clinton, which he said influenced audiences to see 1980s action film stars as lowbrow. In 2017, he said streaming services gave the film its chance to reach new audiences unencumbered by the bad press.
Early in "Last Action Hero," a small boy is watching a movie when suddenly a bundle of dynamite comes bouncing out of the screen and lands near him in the theater. He runs for his life, but there is an explosion, and somehow he is catapulted through the membrane between the audience and the actors. He is in the movie. More exactly, he is in the back seat of a speeding car in a chase scene, and the driver is Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger), his hero.
Other movies have also played with the boundaries between reality and cinema. Woody Allen's "The Purple Rose of Cairo," for example, and Robert Zemeckis's "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." But they've used the gimmick primarily as a springboard for their stories for love and action. There is a lot of action in "Last Action Hero," but the underlying story never ever quite works. From beginning to end, the movie is about its gimmick, without ever transcending it.
Forget the film that inspired it. Even if it's tied to one of the era's biggest Hollywood flops, the Last Action Hero soundtrack has significant lasting value, serving as a wonderful snapshot of the turbulent early-'90s hard rock scene. It pools together previously unreleased songs from enduring hard rock favorites (AC/DC, Def Leppard, and Aerosmith) as well as mainstream metal thrashers (Megadeth, Anthrax), alt-metal fringe dwellers (Queensrÿche, Fishbone), new-breed prospects (Alice in Chains, Cypress Hill), and the customary Hollywood soundtrack schlock (Tesla's over the top title theme and Michael Kamen's album-closing symphonic metal [anti]climax). It's a mixed bag, for sure, but such was the nature of hard rock during the early '90s as both alt-rock and gangsta rap rocked the boat and ultimately siphoned off much of the fan base. In addition to standing as an interesting microcosm for the greater hard rock scene and all of its turbulence, Last Action Hero thankfully features quite a few above-average inclusions. Most notably, the pair of Alice in Chains songs ("What the Hell Have I," "Little Bitter") are on a par with those featured on the band's recent (and magnificent) Dirt album. Elsewhere, the ageless AC/DC and Def Leppard prove yet again that they are able to continually revive themselves year after year, with a big, loud anthem ("Big Gun") and a sappy, singalong acoustic ballad ("Two Steps Behind"), respectively. Less impressively, former thrash kingpins Megadeth ("Angry Again") and Anthrax ("Poison My Eyes") make their bids for Metallica-style crossover success by dumbing down their once cutting-edge styles. Then there's the odd yet welcome late-album inclusion of Cypress Hill ("Cock the Hammer") and Fishbone ("Swim") efforts, clear evidence that Lollapalooza and its alternative-minded patrons had indeed begun to make their mark on the American hard rock scene by summer 1993. Scattershot times warrant scattershot portraits, and Last Action Hero is precisely that: a snapshot of the upheavals, both popular and stylistic, that were besetting hard-edged, guitar-driven American rock during the early '90s. 041b061a72