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    DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

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    Hardware Reviews


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    Last Action Hero Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Mill Creek

    Jul 23 2014 10:10 AM | Todd Erwin in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    What goes up, must eventually come down. Such was the case with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career with his pet project, Last Action Hero, an overly long spoof on action movies where most of the jokes fall flat and the action set pieces too over the top for most audiences. Releasing the film theatrically one week after Jurassic Park would seal the film’s ultimate fate. Twenty years later, is the film as bad as most critics made it out to be?

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Sony
    • Distributed By: Mill Creek
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Audio: English 5.1 DD
    • Subtitles: None
    • Rating: PG-13
    • Run Time: 2 Hr. 10 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type: Blu-ray Eco keepcase
    • Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
    • Region: A
    • Release Date: 07/22/2014
    • MSRP: $9.98

    The Production Rating: 3/5

    Danny Madigan (Austin O’Brien) is a big fan of movies, using them as an escape mechanism to forget about the loss of his father and living in a rundown section of New York City with his mother, who often works nights. Skipping school at the neighborhood movie palace (which is about to be torn down to make way for a multiplex), Nick the projectionist (Robert Prosky) invites Danny to a special midnight screening of the new Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Jack Slater IV, handing him a gold magic ticket once owned by Harry Houdini as his admission. The ticket has the power to transport Danny into the movie he is watching (and vice versa), allowing him to become Jack Slater’s sidekick in the new film as they try to take down hit man Benedict (Charles Dance). Danny loses the ticket in a scuffle with Benedict, who uses it to leave the movie and enter the real world. Danny and Jack must then return to the real world and stop Benedict.

    Last Action Hero tries to meld Woody Allen’s Purple Rose of Cairo with the action movie genre (referencing themes from the Lethal Weapon and Die Hard series), and as a whole, while not a truly awful movie, it’s not a very good one, either. Schwarzenegger ended up taking much of the blame for the movie’s failure at the box office, since he served as the film’s executive producer, overseeing nearly every aspect of the finished product. On paper, the film should have worked, with a screenplay by Shane Black and an uncredited William Goldman, and direction by John McTiernan (Die Hard, Predator). But the movie within the movie (Jack Slater IV) overstays its welcome, taking up more than 3/4 of Last Action Hero’s 130 minute running time. The audience (and Danny) knows that Jack Slater IV is essentially beating a dead horse that has run out of fresh ideas, resorting to over the top action scenes that often defy the laws of movie physics. While McTiernan may have been a good choice for action, his ability to direct comedy is rather lacking, particularly in this film, with jokes falling flat in their execution. And while Charles Dance’s Benedict may make for an interesting villain, I found him to be too similar to his Sardo Numspa character in The Golden Child. With all of its faults, though, Last Action Hero is a mildly entertaining but forgettable movie that, had the studio moved the theatrical release date several more weeks away from Jurassic Park, it probably would have, at the very least, made back its money at the box office.

    Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

    The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer used on Mill Creek’s release appears to be the same one used for Sony’s 2010 Blu-ray. The average Joe may think this was a botched transfer, with muted colors, occasional softness and additional grain during the “real world” sequences that bookend the film, yet the “movie world” is bright with vibrant colors and heightened detail. This is likely more of a stylized approach by director McTiernan, and works rather well. This is by no means what I would call a reference quality transfer, but is a high quality transfer, something most videophiles would expect from Sony.

    Audio Rating: 3/5

    This is, perhaps, the biggest disappointment with Mill Creek’s bargain bin release. While Sony’s 2010 Blu-ray contained a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, Mill Creek’s release contains a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track, encoded at 448 kbps. In other words, DVD-quality audio. Dialogue is still clear and mostly contained to the center channel, with excellent use of surrounds, overall the track suffers from a compressed dynamic range and fidelity.

    Special Features: 0/5

    Mill Creek’s release contains absolutely nothing but the movie itself. The disc ignores the main menu when first started, cycling through the opening logos before starting the movie, bypassing the main menu (which only consists of a “Play Movie” button). The only feature on Sony’s release was MovieIQ, which provided a trivia track over BD-Live, courtesy of Gracenote.

    Overall Rating: 3/5

    Fans of Last Action Hero would be better off tracking down the previous Sony release for the better, lossless audio option. Otherwise, this Mill Creek release, with an MSRP of $9.98, would be an acceptable alternative.

    Reviewed by: Todd Erwin
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    4 Comments

    Todd with only a lossy soundtrack I'm glad I picked up the Sony BR sometime back.

    Thanks for the review

    Al

    Photo
    Carlo Medina
    Jul 23 2014 01:11 PM

    WTH a lossy soundtrack?!?! Time to go bargain bin hunting and see if I can find the old Sony release...disappointing Mill Creek, disappointing.

    Thanks for the review Todd.

     

    Not so uncoincidentally, I just ordered the Sony BD the other day (I have the DVD). Was hoping for a BD a lot better than the Sony one, but had heard rumors the MC one was similar PQ-wise but with a lossy soundtrack. The MC one is actually a tad more expensive than the old Sony one here, and the Sony one is not getting any easier to get now...

     

    Though I'm a bit of an audio "snob", I won't pretend that all lossless soundtracks are better than their DD equivalents. Sometimes there's just not much to work with, for the budget given. I've even seen the odd case where I thought the DD one was better; IMO the DD masterer did a better job than the lossless re-masterer. [Similarly I've got some VC-1 transfers that look a lot better than the AVC transfers; guess the AVC compression settings used were lousy for the given source material, as that shouldn't happen for "similar" bitrates.]

     

    In this case it's hard to presume it's not just a cost-cutting measure considering it's MC: the lossless soundtrack already exists, plus no extras and the film with lossy audio was all they could fit on the (very slightly) cheaper BD25 (compared to on Sony's BD50).

    Too bad it doesn't have the 8 channel SDDS that could have been encoded with left-centre, right-centre onto the rear stereo back and all that is needed is simple re-wire of AVR or re-plugging the RCA outputs to extra set of matched speakers at the front.

     

    I'll keep the DVD I see no need in spending £20.00 for the same 5.1 mix,