In 1993, Last Action Hero hit the big screen…and promptly flopped. The film already had a dino-sized obstacle stacked against it: it opened a week after Jurassic Park, and people wanted to keep seeing Jurassic Park over and over again, not Last Action Hero. But there were other problems, too. The script was never where it needed to be, but studio execs were convinced audiences would show up for an Arnold Schwarzenegger regardless of quality. They were wrong. Early reports of disastrous press screenings didn’t help, either. But in the years since its release, people have re-evaluated the action-comedy, and while it still has problems, it’s better than its reputation suggests. And now it’s getting a 4K Blu-ray release.
The Last Action Hero 4K Blu-ray release is being billed as something fans demanded. In 2019, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment ran a fan poll where they provided a list of some of their films and asked participants which of the movies on the list they would want to see on 4K. Believe it or not, SPHE says that with over 30,000 responses, Last Action Hero was the most selected movie. And now they’re giving the fans what they want, as Last Action Hero heads to 4K Ultra HD on May 18.
In Last Action Hero, “Young Danny Madigan (Austin O’Brien) is a lonely 11-year-old boy who escapes from his bleak reality by watching the action adventure movies of his favorite film character, Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger). When his best friend, Nick the projectionist, gives him a special ticket to the new Slater film, Danny is magically transported into Jack’s world, where the good guys always win. Danny becomes his helper as Jack battles a trio of nefarious bad guys, Benedict (Charles Dance), Vivaldi (Anthony Quinn), and The Ripper (Tom Noonan). But things get out of hand when Benedict steals Danny’s magic ticket stub and transports himself into the real world, where crime can, and often does, pay. Jack and Danny must leave fictional Los Angeles for real-life New York and battle the villains without the aid of movie magic or stuntmen.”
By now you probably know the story of Last Action Hero. When the film entered production, Arnold Schwarznegger was box office gold. It seemed like he could do no wrong – audiences wanted to see him on the big screen. With that in mind, the folks at Sony were convinced that signing Schwarzenegger to Last Action Hero would guarantee a hit. Behind-the-scenes, problems arose, specifically on a script level. The initial draft was written by Zak Penn and Adam Leff, and Penn and Leff’s script was much different than the finished film (note: I’m not saying it was better; just different). The studio kept tinkering with it – they brought in Shane Black, the high-paid screenwriter responsible for Lethal Weapon and more. Schwarzenegger insisted on more rewrites from William Goldman, one of the best screenwriters in the biz (he wrote All the President’s Men, The Princess Bride, and more). Goldman did uncredited script doctor work; so did Carrie Fisher and Larry Ferguson. In the end, the script was credited to Shane Black and David Arnott. And, by all accounts, it was never where it needed to be (although most comments about the script being a mess came in hindsight of the film flopping).
No matter. The producers were convinced that as long as they had Arnold Schwarzenegger the script didn’t matter. To quote Last Action Hero: big mistake. Critics tore it apart and it fizzled at the box office. In the years since its release, though, Last Action Hero has become kind of a cult curiosity. Does it have problems? Oh yes. But it’s also a lot better than its reputation suggests, and I’m glad Sony is giving it a 4K so we can have a new chance to reappraise it. On top of that, the release is going to feature a brand new commentary track from director John McTiernan, which should be interesting. Here’s a full list of the special features.
DISC DETAILS & BONUS MATERIAL
4K ULTRA HD DISC
- Newly remastered in 4K resolution from the original camera negative, with HDR10
- All-new Dolby Atmos audio + the original theatrical SDDS mix presented as 5.1 + original theatrical stereo audio
- Audio Commentary with Director John McTiernan
- Deleted & Alternate Scenes (presented in 4K with HDR10)
- Alternate Ending (presented in 4K with HDR10)
- “Big Gun” Music Video by AC/DC
- Original Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
- Theatrical Teaser
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