Last Action Hero has such a reputation that a big release is never likely to be on the cards. It is never going to see by the bucket load, so Sony have never treated it properly on home formats. Unfortunately that hasn't changed here. The picture is presented in the correct theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 and is a 1080p transfer as one would expect. Whilst this is a vast improvement over the DVD picture, it is not likely to be one you would use to demo your system.
The first thing to notice is the increased level of detail and clarity within the image. Things that you previously haven't noticed leap out at you. The engraving on Slater's belt, the detail on the weapons, the depth to the image. All these put the previous releases to shame. Just look at the scene with the wrecking ball to appreciate the 3D pop that is evident.
Colours are also vibrant - Slater's shirt, the blue of the sky. All these look suitably impressive, and black levels are also deep and inky. One major disadvantage, however, is the grain. Now I am not one who dislikes grain in an image - it gives it a pleasing filmic quality to me. But this transfer does not handle grain too well - and there is plenty of it. This means the picture can exhibit high levels of noise and even some blockiness.
The original DVD, however, did suffer from edge enhancement so I was bracing myself for this. It is almost entirely missing here, which is pleasing. Those who are familiar with the original SD release are likely to find much to admire here, as long as you remember the fact that the perceived reputation of the film means a full restoration is never likely to happen.
1993 was a big year for cinema sound. Jurassic Park debuted DTS, and Last Action Hero debuted 7.1 SDDS. This is down-mixed to a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix on the disc.
At the time, they would have tried very hard to make an impressive mix, being the first to show off a new system, and it certainly shows on the disc. The surrounds are used extensively throughout the film, with bullets zinging around your head with great precision and accuracy. Front separation is also wide and vibrant, with the dialogue well placed and accurate.
The only draw back is the sub which really doesn't seem to underpin the explosions as much as you would hope. The bass seems a little bit anaemic. It is a LONG time since I saw this in the cinema (sometimes this review lark makes you feel old), but I do remember this being a flaw on the DVD as well so maybe it is a fault of the original mix.
Well, guess what? Sony presents this disc to us with a disc packed with....absolutely nothing! Well, this isn't strictly true. Their much vaunted Movie IQ features here, which can be quite useful to keep up with all the cameos and in-jokes. There is also a portal to the Sony BD-Live page, but that is totally it. Not even a trailer is evident on this disc. I know that the film is never likely to get a big budget release, but considering the German DVD release had a music video and some documentaries as well as a trailer, it would be nice to see some of those here.
Last Action Hero, in my opinion, deserves much more respect than it has been given and I am going to stand up for it here. The film has a good story, very funny moments, and great action sequences, and a fantastic cast! What is there not to like here? Ok, some of the comedy scenes are overdone and the ending is too much of a tonal shift from the rest of the film, but these are minor flaws in a very enjoyable couple of hours. If you have never seen the film, don't allow it's reputation to proceed it and give it a go. It really is better than you have heard.
As for the disc, the picture and sound are both well above average, and surprisingly impressive for a film that is now 16 years old, although there is a criminal lack of extras here. Bearing in mind the treatment the film has had over the years, I cannot imagine a double dip ever appearing so I have no hesitation in recommending this. If one person discovers an underrated film from reading this review, then I will be happy.
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