Last Action Hero (1993)
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Die Hard helped kill the 80s action film, the one where the hero is an unbeatable hulk, usually Arnold or Sylvester. The paradigm shifted to more human, more vulnerable action stars like Bruce Willis' John McClane, guys you could believe would get HURT. The man responsible, director John McTiernan nevertheless says goodbye to the era with some fondness in Last Action Hero, a loving spoof of 80s action cinema. Schwarzenegger had some massive hits in the years following (he's hard to kill), but in 1993, people were maybe getting sick of his brand, so the film didn't do well (and his fans would have grumbled at the self-parody). It's aged rather well out of its historical context, probably because it's easier to tickle our nostalgia now than it was in the waning years of the genre. It is a LOT of fun. McTiernan opens with gorgeous action cinematography that wouldn't look out of place in Hong Kong cinema. The action sequences aren't any more ridiculous than Fast and Furious fare - give or take jokes about genre tropes - and are still up to snuff. Arnold's character is as cool as he is corny. The "action movie" universe quite amusing. The magic ticket fantasy Amblin-esque (so watch for the Spielberg call-back). The cameos a lot of fun too. I wasn't expecting such a fun ride (my memories of it were dim indeed), but yeah, put me in the convinced column.
Back in the 1990s, this was one of my favorite movies. At the time, I was very burned out of action movies, and I loved how this movie skewered them and I didn't understand why most other folks didn't see the brilliance I saw.
25 years later, I still love this movie, but I can see the flaws now. This is a movie that has several very clever bits, but they never quite gel into one great whole. I think Pleasantville and The Purple Rose of Cairo do the whole "reality and fiction" converge far better and with more heart.
Last Action Hero sometimes is a satire, sometimes a straight action-fantasy movie, sometimes a drama about a kid without a father, but these disparate parts don't mesh well, IMO, and none of them runs very deep.
It's still a very interesting movie, but it could have been so much more.
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #173 in Geoff King's Film Comedy
This movie ranks #234 in Marshall Julius's Action! The Action Movie A-Z