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George At 

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Last Action Hero


In 1993, moviegoers had waited two years since T2 for the next Schwarzenegger big-budget summer bonanza. What they got instead was the all-time box office bomb LAST ACTION HERO.

Loud, obnoxious and horribly written, the movie aches to be clever but smothers under its inability to strike a tone, land a joke or engage the viewer.

Young Danny (Austin O'Brien, earnestly fine in an impossible role) lives in pre-clean up Times Square, escaping to a run down movie palace to watch all the latest Jack Slater action movies. Slater is played by Arnold Schwarzenegger too and the films within the film look like standard Arnold flicks of the day.

The grizzled old, kind of creepy projectionist Nick, played by Robert Prosky (Broadcast News, Mrs. Doubtfire) gives Danny a magic ticket that suddenly transports him INTO the new Jack Slater movie! Isn't that exciting?

No, it turns out it's not. In one of the many, many missteps of the horrible screenplay by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) and David Arnott (who also wrote the Andrew Dice Clay bomb "Ford Fairlane" and then moved to acting...wisely) Danny is almost immediately annoyed to be in the movie.

The film would have been so much more fun if Danny would have immediately enjoyed being immersed with his favorite movie action character, riding along in the adventure and having fun! Then maybe we would have fun watching too. Instead, Danny bitches and moans incessantly, driving Slater nuts.

Meanwhile, poor Arnold, who we know can blend comic lines & action from "True Lies" and "Predator", is stuck with painful one liners.

He asks a guy if he wants to be a farmer and then kicks him in the nards, saying "There's a couple of achers..." That's not even funny on paper.

With an $85 million budget, there are some very enjoyable action sequences, but with no real stakes in play, they are just moments of entertainment in a painful mess.

It's a HUGE waste of talent and movie star cameos, with everyone from Sharon Stone in her "Basic Instinct" costume to Robert Patrick as the T-1000 from Judgement Day walking past the camera.

Anthony Quinn, F Murray Abraham, Art Carney, Jim Belushi, Harold Sakata (Oddjob from "Goldfinger") and hundreds of others parade through the two hour plus running time.

Only Charles Dance (Alien3, Game of Thrones) manages to escape with dignity as a cool hit man with plenty of interchangeable eyeballs.

By the time Ian McKellen shows up as Death from an Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" and Laurence Olivier's wife Dame Joan Plowright shows up to introduce a Hamlet joke, you wonder if perhaps the writers have strayed a bit far from their target audience.

Director John McTiernan (Die Hard) manages to sneak in references (including music cues) from that much better Bruce Willis film, but the structure never really creates any world you care about.

When your sense of humor includes a twenty minute sequence centered around a mafia guy named Leo The Fart, you've pretty much set the level of sophistication of your efforts.

Relentlessly stupid, LAST ACTION HERO opened the week after "Jurassic Park" in theatres and died a very quick death, losing $35 million against its budget in the USA.

Arnold would bounce back the following year in James Cameron's "True Lies", and McTiernan came back two years later with "Die Hard with a Vengance" and Pierce Brosnan's terrific take on "The Thomas Crown Affair".

This remains the biggest whiff in both of their careers, a gigantic celluloid turd that has not improved with age, thudding to the ground with a D-.

I remember seeing this in theatres and thinking it would never end. Yep, played exactly the same today.

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