I wrote this review for a friend’s zine that it looks like may or may not ever come out. But, I’m really proud of the review, and I hope you like it-
The Last Action Hero is Smarter Than You-
I know, I know. You think I’m fucking with you. You think I’m affecting some stance so I can defend it with ironic statements, and I’m just trying to be a hip dick. But I’m not. I really, really like this film.
Now, keep in mind, I hadn’t seen Last Action Hero since it was in theaters…almost 20 years ago. I was 16 in 1993, and there’s no way I was prepared for the film I was about to see. I don’t think the damn world was ready for the film. Now, stick with me here- I’ll get to the WHY this film is so good soon enough. To prep for this article, I just re-watched it, and here’s a quick run-down/ refresher on the plot:
Kid (Danny Madigan) is a huge movie nerd, skips school to watch films in a run-down old cinema palace run by old-guy, much to the disappointment of his single-mother. His favorite movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger is starring in a new release, Jack Slater 4, and the old guy who runs the theater has a print of it before the premier and the kid comes over to watch it at a midnight screening just for him. Once there, old-guy gives kid a ticket given to him by Houdini, and during the screening, kid gets sucked into the film-world, and starts interacting with the fictional wold there. Because kid has seen the first 10 mins or so of Jack Slater 4, he knows a bit about the plot and helps Slater foil some bad-guy plans. Bad guy in the film gets his hands on the ticket and uses it to come into the ‘real world.’ Jack Slater and Kid have to stop bad guy from killing the real Schwarzenegger, which would end Slater’s life as well. The good guys win, Slater goes back to the movie-world, and Kid keeps ticket. Somewhere in there is a cartoon cat. The end.
I remember when The Last Action Hero came out. It wasn’t what I wanted to see at the time. In fact, I don’t think it was anyone’s idea of what they wanted to see. The movie is a victim of audience expectations of what a Schwarzenegger movie SHOULD be. But if this movie came out now- I firmly believe the critics would be falling all over themselves to say how brilliant it is.
Put yourself in this position- Terminator 2 was Arnold’s most recent film…the man was an action god, a stone-cold killer, and could do no wrong. And THEN- he’s starring in a film who’s main intent was to play with and make fun of the trappings of the action movies you loved him for. In essence, LAH is making fun of the very audience it was being marketed to. And not only that- the REAL story going on is one about fictional characters transcending the bounds of the stories they’re trapped in, and wanting to run their own destiny, as opposed to the one written for them to act out on the screen. No fucking way was that going to work in 1993. Hollywood didn’t know how to market this, and audiences didn’t even know how to watch it.
Holly wood still doesn’t know how to market this thing- does this looks like the DVD cover for a movie where the hero gets rescued by a cartoon cat?
READ THE REST AFTER THE JUMP!