Monday, May 5, 2008

Last Action Hero

Last Action Hero; action comedy, USA, 1993; D: John McTiernan, S: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin O'Brien, Charles Dance, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Noonan, Art Carney, Robert Prosky, Anthony Quinn, Mercedes Ruehl, Ian McKellen, Joan Plowright, Noah Emmerich, Bridgette Wilson, Tina Turner, James Belushi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Danny DeVito (voice), Damon Wayans, Maria Shriver, Chevy Chase, Sharon Stone

The 11-year old Danny is a big fan of action star Arnold Schwarzenegger and currently watches the 4th part of his "Jack Slater" movie franchise. With a help of a magic ticket, the boy finds himself inside the movie and becomes a protagonist alongside his idol. He tries to convince Slater that he is just a movie character, but he won't listen until the bad guy Benedict finds the ticket and goes to the real world. Slater and Danny follow him, but in the real world he can get killed. Slater kills Benedict and manages to survive his deadly wound by going back into the movie.

Rare are the movies that managed to successfully develop the theme of a real character entering the fictional media world or vice-versa, some of which that did were "The Truman Show", "Pleasantville" and "Sherlock Jr." Even though mildly received back in 1993, action comedy "Last Action Hero" is actually one of the better contributions, a clever satire that opens our eyes and shows us just how dumb all those action cliches really are and how naive we were for taking them seriously. The first half of the film is enormous fun full of self-irony, showing how the 11-year old Danny finds himself in the middle of a "Jack Slater" film, alongside his idol Arnold Schwarzenegger, and completely deconstructs his illusion of reality: the car of the bad guys explodes and Danny points that out, but Slater is unimpressed because these things happen to him every day. Danny goes to a video store to find the action section and convince Slater he is just played by Schwarzenegger, but only finds out that in that alternate world the main role of "The Terminator" is played by Stallone. Also, it's very satirical how all the women in the film are supermodels, attractive and "just happen" to always walk in underwear, ridiculing the cliche of male "fan service" - Danny even looks around the streets and asks: "Where are all the common women?!" Even the action is well choreographed, while the screenplay is full of ironic one-liners - for instance, one bad guys can't manage to hit Slater, who just shows up, grabs his machine gun, says: "Don't give up your day job!" and throws him across the room. The movie is a lot of fun while ridiculing the cliches, but in the second half it becomes a victim of some cliches itself when it overstretches its idea and catapults Slater into the real world, leaving a lot of potentials unused and making the mistake to use a few dumb ideas, like the animated detective cat.


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