Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 03/25/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Granted, LAST ACTION HERO (1993) is probably aimed at pre-teen boys, yet it's a personal favorite. I'm one of this film's loyal fans.
At the time it was making the theatrical rounds I worked at Sears Brand Central in their electronics division. We had a dedicated laser disc player that repeated every 30 minutes a selection of movie promos, plus Sears and other commercials. These discs were changed monthly.
For a couple of cycles, "Last Action Hero" was a featured item. The ad included some fine concert footage of AC/DC's "Big Gun." A portion of this track opens the picture's final credit scroll. Arnold appears in character during the Sears video while Angus Young does his famous schoolboy prance on stage.
The soundtrack of LAST ACTION HERO is a metal or rocker fan's delight. It includes cuts by Alice in Chains, Megadeath, Fishbone, Def Leppard, Anthrax, Cypress Hill, Queensryche and Aerosmith. Tesla has the title track.
The reason I'm particularly fond of this one is its references to classic movies, including Hamlet, in a fab b&w scene where Arnold as a grungy machine gun packing Dane says, "To be or not to be" and lights a bomb off his stogie. He tosses the TNT. Big explosion behind him and then a drolly given, "Not to be" ends the sequence.
Best of all is Ian McKellen's take on the Grim Reaper from Ingmar Bergman's THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957). Honorable mention to Tom Noonan's horribly scarred axe-wielding villain. He and Arnold play dual roles: themselves the actors and their action film characters.
It's a great concept: young Austin O'Brien (as Danny Madigan) steps into a movie and then he and other fictional characters cross back into the real world. That L.A. police station on the other side of the screen is great. We also get a holographic glimpse here of Arnold's Terminator foe in cop drag, and Danny DeVito provides the voice of 'Whiskers,' a cartoon cat detective. Also here, Austin/Danny I.D.s a confused F. Murray Abraham as Mozart's killer (remember AMADEUS?).
At the video store, Sylvester Stallone is seen on a lifesize cardboard stand up display as THE TERMINATOR. Jack Slater (Arnold) raves about how good Sly is in the role to a shocked Danny. It's too funny! Oh, and other bad puns, like when Slater kills a villain with an ice cream stuck in the eyeball, he quips: "Iced that guy... to cone a phrase!"
Yes, I've seen LAST ACTION HERO many times and will many more!"