January 4, 2014
Action Hero (1993)
Austin O'Brien, and Charles Dance
Between the years 1984 and 1993, Arnold Schwarzenegger was
of the biggest sure things in the history of Hollywood.
EVERY one of his movies was a hit. Every one of his action
was a really big deal. Heck, all of you have to do is say
Schwarzenegger movie", and if a person grew up in the 80's or 90's they
know exactly what genre of movie you are talking about.
Schwarzenegger movies were big. They were loud.
badass. And they were hits. Every time.
Enjoys the lamentations of your women
And then, of course, we come to 1993. And Last Action Hero.
The first Arnold Schwarzenegger bomb.
movie that not only ended his string of some of the greatest and most
beloved action movies in the history of Hollywood, but the movie that
pretty much killed his reputation as the #1 movie star in the world.
Yes, if you read interviews with Arnold Schwarzenegger about
movies he has made over the course of his career, go read his comments
about Last Action Hero some time. Check out how bitter he is
this movie was a flop. In fact, I have seen him come right
and say it in a couple of interviews. On a couple of
he has said "Last Action Hero was the movie that made me realize that I
didn't want to be an actor anymore."
Because this movie bombed,
and because it bombed so loudly and so famously, Arnold Schwarzenegger
would never again be the presence that he was prior to 1993.
After 1993, as an action star, he would only be a shadow of
Is going to ask you a bunch of questions. Would appreciate if
you answered immediately.
here is the thing. Last Action Hero wasn't a flop.
I mean, if you go on the internet and you look at its box
it actually made a pretty good profit. And if you go through
comments at the Internet Movie Database, it seems like practically
everyone who has seen it loves it. In fact, I can't think of
another movie that I have seen called "underrated" as often as Last
Action Hero is called underrated in the IMDB user comments.
it made a good profit. It isn't a bad movie at all.
talk about it glowingly today as one of those long lost movies that
they love, but most of their friends have never even heard of before.
It is one of those movies that is just sitting out there,
for an entire new generation to discover it and realize how fun it is.
its reputation persists. Even to this day. It is
called "one of the biggest flops in Hollywood history:" Its
is still throw out there in the same sentence as movies like Gigli, or
And that is not even remotely fair.
Action Hero isn't the best movie that Arnold Schwarzenegger ever made.
But it sure isn't the worst one. It's not even
close to the
worst one. In my opinion, this is a movie that is so clever,
and was so far ahead of its time, that movie
1993 just weren't ready for it yet.
Probably for this reason. This isn't an action movie, it is a
and right there, that is the reason why this movie never
like the other big Schwarzenegger Action Movies all caught on.
Last Action Movie isn't an action movie at all. It
satire of action movies. It is much closer to
like Pleasantville, or Rustler's Rhapsody, than it is to
And that is the variable that I don't think audiences were
for when this movie came out in 1993. They went into it
the Terminator, and they were shocked that what they got was Galaxy
Simply put, this is a fucking brilliant parody of
action movies and action movie cliches (and Schwarzenegger movies in
general), and I don't think that Arnold's audience wanted to see that
from him right at peak of his career.
I love this shot. Very few movies have as many background
gags as Last Action Hero.
Last Action Hero is the story of a boy named Danny Madigan.
Danny, as played by Austin O'Brien
loves movies, and he spends every waking minute of his day skipping
school and heading down to watch movies at the local movie theater.
In particular, he loves to go to the movies to watch his all
favorite movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger. As you can see,
are already heading in the direction of "a movie within a movie" here.
Danny at the movies, ready for the latest Arnold
at this point in his career, Arnold is playing an action hero named
Jack Slater. And as you can guess, Jack Slater movies are the
biggest thing in Hollywood at the moment. Just like every
other Schwarzenegger movie, Jack Slater movies are big, they
loud, they are dumb, and they are fun. And Danny can't get
of them. He -loves- watching Jack Slater movies. He
every big dumb loud implausible thing about them. Movies like
this are what kids like Danny were made for.
Slater driving through walls and blowing shit up and never getting
injured, because the good guy in a movie can never get injured
so a lot of stuff happens in Danny's life that I am going to gloss over
because you have to watch the movie to understand it, but in the end
what happens is that one day Danny gets a present from
Nick. You see, Nick runs the theater that Danny hangs out in
every day. And he knows how much Danny loves movies.
day Nick gives him an item that he once received as a gift from Mr.
It is a magical ticket.
And it grants a person the power to put himself right in a
Nick giving Danny the magic ticket
doesn't believe that the ticket is real at first. At first,
thinks it is just a prop that some confused old guy was holding onto.
But just when he doesn't think it is real, that is when the magic
Danny is sucked right into the movie. And all of a sudden he
is a comedy sidekick in the latest Jack Slater movie.
of course you have seen movies like this before. Somebody
sucked into the TV world or the movie world, and all sorts of chaos
ensues when they know that they are living in a movie world but nobody
else does. I mean, come on, it was no accident that I
Last Action Hero to Pleasantville a couple of paragraphs ago.
might as well have called this movie Pleasantville version 1.0, because
it came out a good five years before Pleasantville. In fact,
many ways, it is the exact same thing.
It is also very similar
to Scream, Galaxy Quest, uh let's see, what else? The Matrix?
Yep. There is also a lot of The Matrix in Last
Where one person can control the realities of the world
him and nobody else can figure out why.
Action Hero came out way before any of these other movies, and they all
have the exact same premise. Only because this one was first,
because Arnold Schwarzenegger audiences weren't ready for a subtly
wicked comedy from their beloved action hero, that is why it was
considered a flop. And to be honest, it kind of pisses me
It has always pissed me off. Shit, if you like any
other movies (especially Galaxy Quest and Pleasantville), you will
appreciate Last Action Hero. It is the Exact! Same!
explaining to Jack that good guys never have to reload their guns.
Because this is a movie. And that everything he
will always blow up.
Okay, so Danny winds up in a Schwarzenegger movie. And as you
guess, all the Schwarzenegger action movie cliches are there.
The corny one liners. The stereotypical characters.
cutout bad guys. The explosions. The fact that the
guys can never get hurt. The rock music soundtrack.
starts telling Jack exactly what is going to happen to him every single
step of the way. And of course Jack has no idea that he is in
movie, so he spends every waking minute arguing with Danny that this is
real world, and that this is the way that things have always worked.
And that yes, every phone number here can possibly start with 555.
Because Los Angeles has something called area codes.
am not going to give away the entire plot of Last Action Hero, because
I really do love this movie and I really do think it got a bum deal
where it first came out in 1993. Like I said, it really was
of its time. It is a really funny movie. And it has
wonderful little inside movie jokes.
this one. Danny walks into LAPD Headquarters and he passes
T-1000 robot from Terminator 2. You have to look quick though.
and here is maybe the funniest scene in any Arnold
movie ever. Danny is so convinced that he is in a movie, and
Arnold Schwarzenegger is only an actor, that he drags Jack down to the
local Blockbuster Video store to show him the evidence. And
is where he is faced with this little prop, which never fails to make
me laugh. And which got a huge pop from the audience when I
this in the theater back in 1993.
What the fuck? Sylvester Stallone was the Terminator??
Arnold in the background: "He was great in that! It
was his best role!"
note: One of my favorite things about action movies in the
was the constant one-upmanship between Stallone and Schwarzenegger.
They were -constantly- taking digs at each other in their
This T2 gag in Last Action Hero was a direction response to
Stallone making fun of Schwarzenegger being president in Demolition
I loved when they used to do stuff like that in movies.
great Last Action Hero moment. Danny pointing out that Arnold
going to say "I'll be back" right before he says it.
Last Action Hero perfect? No, of course not. It is
too long for its own good, and it drags a bit in the
a subplot at a mob funeral. However it has some fantastic
and it has some amazing plot twists. Culminating in Arnold
Danny jumping back and forth from movies into the real world and back
again. Where Jack learns that when you punch a window in the
world, or you play chicken with your car, you crash and it hurts.
And that sometimes in the real world, you might actually miss
Oh and of course I can't leave out this fun little gag right towards
the end of the movie.
Jack Slater meets the douchy Arnold Schwarzenegger. And he
tells Arnold to fuck off.
can't end this review without pointing out that, aside from
the wonderful little inside movie jokes, Last Action Hero also has two
great villains in it. In fact whenever I talk about this
with people, the villains are almost always what people remember about
First you have Charles Dance as Benedict, the assassin with the ever
rotating glass eye
And then you have Jack's nemesis, The Ripper. Played by a
delightfully creepy Tom Noonan.
The Ripper and Danny
Ripper and Benedict are just part of the wacky adventure that Danny and
Jack Slater share through the movie world and the real world, and at
this point that is really all I want to say about this movie.
Other than to say that Last Action Hero is a personal
that in -no way- should have been as hated as it was, and I would
probably put it in my top five Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.
couldn't possibly put it as my #1, because True Lies is without
question my all time favorite Schwarzenegger movie. But
there is something to be said about a movie where Arnold Schwarzenegger
is constantly making fun of his own name and repeatedly referring to
himself as "Arnold Braunschweiger." I mean, come on.
Say your prayers, Braunschweiger
Action Hero. A movie that was considered a huge flop at the
(indeed, it was considered one of the all time biggest flops) but I
have no doubt it will one day develop a strong cult following and a
devoted legion of fans. In fact, if you look around the IMDB
seems like it already has. It is a movie that was so far
its time and so far ahead of its theme that audiences in 1993 just
weren't ready for it yet. But people are ready for it now,
suggest you track down a copy and you give it a chance. Like
said, it is a little too long for its own good, but the good stuff in
Last Action Hero is -really- good. And as a bonus, it even
features a cameo by M.C. Hammer. Who doesn't love Hammer?
the way, I saw Last Action Hero with my parents on opening night in
1993. And if you had told me this movie was going to be a
that night, I never would have believed it. In fact, I still
don't believe it. I laughed my ass off. In fact, I
it to my wife for the first time a couple of days ago, and I was
curious what she was going to say about it since she hates Arnold
Schwarzenegger movies and she hates action movies even more.
wife's review of Last Action Hero? Well it's still
thing, but for what it was she thought it was funny. She
out loud a couple of times. And she thought it was impressive
that Arnold actually had to act. It is one of the only movies
his career where he actually had to act, and she said he actually did a
pretty good job in it.
Trust me, coming from my wife that is like her saying that an Arnold
Schwarzenegger movie is Citizen Kane. That's high praise.
Happy New Year from the Ripper
Oh yeah, want to know the main reason Last Action Hero
Well it opened a week after Jurassic Park. That sure didn't
favorite IMDB user reviews about Last Action Hero:
If you get the joke, you'll love
it. If you don't, then stay away. - 11 April 2010
was this actor called Arnold Schwarzenegger, see. He was Austrian, and
he wasn't actually that good an actor, but he was very impressive
physically and had tremendous screen presence. As a result he ended up
making a string of action movies which traded on that presence: they
grew in popularity until he became the top box office draw in the world.
And, when he was at the height of his popularity, he made Last Action
Last Action Hero, Schwarzenegger plays Jack Slater, who is exactly the
sort of character Schwarzenegger plays. Oh, and himself.
main character is young Danny Madigan, who finds himself in possession
of a magic cinema ticket which takes him into Jack Slater's movie
world. It also enables both Slater and Slater film villain Benedict to
come into the real world, where the rules are somewhat different -
bullet wounds can be fatal, and villains sometimes win.
This film is original, visually great fun, and is full - crammed,
absolutely jam-packed - with movie-based gags and references.
saw it when it first came out, and I loved every second of it. I was
absolutely mystified at the negativity towards it at the time, and I
could only put it down to people simply not getting it.
verdict is - if you get the joke, you'll love it (and familiarity with
a lot of movies, particularly from the action genre). If you don't,
then stay away.
Arnold and Danny explore
literary theory - 10 April 2005
remembered going to see this movie when I was about 8, and taking it
quite seriously. Now I am about twenty and last night, after much
trepidation, I put the disc into my DVD player to see it again after
about nine years. It was a completely different film than what I
remembered. You know what the man says about not being able to cross
the same river twice?
Most obvious was the shockingly corny
"action movie" sequence. I could remember things like the women wearing
funny clothes, people not being able to say cuss words, the hero always
winning, etc. But now, having seen over the years so many Miami Vices,
Lethal Weapons, and Die Hards, not to mention the "traffic thriller"
scenes in Terminator 3, I realize "Hey, they're making fun of it!"
(They killed my favorite second cousin. Big mistake!) It was always
obvious that Arnold was going to meet the characters that he played,
but at the time I first saw it I didn't realize the deeper meaning to
all that. (Mom wouldn't let me go see very many action films)
film doesn't work for some people because it slips from action parody
into literary criticism too easily. They should have spent more time in
the real world at the beginning to highlight difference between the
real world and the "fairy tale" world of Jack Slater. There were alot
of things I'd forgotten about when they come back. Arnold --"I've never
just sat down and talked to a women. It feels good." "I like classical
The crux of the movie comes when Death from "Seven
Seals" walks up to Jack and Danny in the theater. The moral: the
hardships of life come to us all, but not in the movies. In the movies
everything is OK.
Delightful Spoof - 20
continue to foist this film off on my friends, demanding that they
watch it. Some actually do. And generally they agree with me that it is
far better than they expected it to be---which pleases me to no end.
there is one moment in the film that is not to be missed it is when
Arnie confronts himself (as his alter-ego Jack Slater) and is faced
with a less than enthusiastic response. This is a perfect summation of
the "real-vs-fantasy" motif of the film.
The running gags, the
spoofing of the Action genre, the ridiculous ending and how Arnie
manages to play it all with such a deadly seriousness makes this a
completely delightful comedy. Surprise!
Tell me, why is this a
bad movie again? - 7 October 2013
saw this movie advertised online and decided to check it out. What I
expected was another Arnold-style shoot 'em up. In short, I was
COMPLETELY unprepared for what this movie served up.
This is not
a serious action film. It is definitely an action picture, but not one
that is meant to be taken seriously. This is an action film that spends
about 3/4 of its time laughing at everything it has: the explosions,
the car chases, the silly lines, the unbelievably cliché characters,
ANYTHING that makes an Arnold movie an Arnold movie. While it does take
a little while to get off the ground, the first bit spent establishing
just how boring and scary the real world is, the movie sucks us in
(literally) and takes us on a joyride through the explode-happy world
of Jack Slater, the most stereotypical of loose cannon cops right down
to consistently being yelled at by his boss for saving the day.
movie is 100% self-aware of how over-the-top it is. It flat out refuses
to take itself seriously. It even provides us with a slightly annoying
but ultimately laughable comedy sidekick to point out the inside jokes
when we are too busy recovering from shell-shock to notice them. Why
did it tank at the box office? Well, I guess because it set itself up
as a metaphysical action movie rather than a satire/parody of action
movies in general (even Hamlet, which is labeled "The First Action
Hero" by this movie). Yes, it's Arnold. Yes, it's an incredibly surreal
picture. But that's all part of the fun. And if you choose to take it
seriously, you're going to have a bad time.
A little confused, but
very fun and totally under-rated. - 2 June 2004
ACTION HERO went down in the books as a notorious, hopeless bomb,
putting it in the same company as films like HUDSON HAWK, BATTLEFIELD
EARTH, and GIGLI. And although it was a huge financial dissapointment
back in 1993, this film stands head and shoulders above those other
stinkers, and has certainly found an appreciative audience over time.
Perhaps it wouldn't have earned such awful word-of-mouth had it not
been advertised and released as a straightforward action film. No doubt
1993 audiences were expecting a TERMINATOR- or TRUE LIES-style
adventure. Instead, LAST ACTION HERO is fairly misleading, and it
shifts tones pretty dramatically, from a free-wheeling action
adventure, to something much more dramatic, set in the "real world",
and back and forth again. This can be quite jarring upon a first
viewing, and certainly unappealing for anybody who doesn't enjoy
Hollywood satire. Eleven years later, the American public is a little
more film-industry-savvy (its seems like every Mom and Pop follows the
salary rumors and box office races these days), and may appreciate the
insider jokes a little more. If you prepare yourself for a cheeky
spoof- and DONT expect TOTAL RECALL!- you'll definitely find LAST
ACTION HERO better than you remember.
Funny, comedic look at
action blockbusters - 30 May 2010
didn't get this movie back in the day. Back in 1993, Arnold was fresh
off of 'Terminator 2: Judgement Day' and everything else would pale in
comparison. But this is a different type of movie altogether.
fact is, this movie is a funny look at the action movie genre, of which
Arnold was the king of at the time. The one-liners, which people
panned, were meant to be corny. "Big Mistake" is part of the fun. Many
action movies had famous one-liners at that time, and this was the
homage to that.
The jokes about never running out of bullets,
flesh wounds, cleaning tar off quickly, people showing up
coincidentially, police coming as a person is shot, are all easily
verifiable as action movie staples from the time and earlier.
it with this in mind, and you'll see that it's a great movie for what
it is intended to be, and that's a comedic look at the action genre.
Enjoy it for what it is, not what it isn't.
at the IMDB
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