THE LAST ACTION HERO (1993)

The problem with THE LAST ACTION HERO is not the film itself, but the film-within-a-film it's poking fun at, named after the super-cop character JACK SLATER, which in itself is a lame title for a franchise that seems very made-up. So basically THE LAST ACTION HERO is bagging on an Action Movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, which would be like Jerry Lewis looking down on lovable klutzes or Rod Serling sneering at a twist ending...

The main problem is, Arnold did this movie way too soon. After TERMINATOR 2 he was at the peak of his powers, and he winds up showing audiences how stupid those kind of movies are. The funny thing is, Arnold's most popular "Action" films are really Science-Fiction... Not just TERMINATOR 1 and 2 but TOTAL RECALL, THE RUNNING MAN and PREDATOR... plus the CONAN films which are sci-fi's sibling, Fantasy...

Many of the cliches through the JACK SLATER universe do NOT exist in actual action movies... In those they're part but here they are glaring stereotypes that serve no purpose at all. Especially unfitting is the CARTOON CAT that shows up as a working cop in the police station. No Arnold or Sly Stallone or Bruce Willis movie has EVER had a cartoon mix in with humans (and the central kid actor is a bore)...

The only two good things are the tall/lanky, totally scary-looking Tom Noonan as an ax-killer who should have been the ONLY MAIN villain instead of Charles Dance making fun of Charles Dance.. And F. Murray Abraham as Jack's fictional cop partner turned backstabber could have had more merit than two quick scenes, so the fact is, the film-within-the-film is treated with no respect, and it's simply not entertaining (like Arnold's following years' comeback, a real action movie, TRUE LIES): For instance, JACK SLATER IV opens with a five-minute scene between two very old men having a conversation (Tony Quinn and Art Carney), which would bore the daylights out of any kid watching on opening night. And, after all the nonsense, by the time the fictional characters do a TIME AFTER TIME meets THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO and enter real life, the audience is exhausted. A shame since THAT movie was far better than the other. SCORE: **


 

MIRACLE OF THE ORIGINAL 'GHOSTBUSTERS'

Dan Aykroyd wrote a totally farfetched film that would not have worked had Bill Murray not dissembled all the serious attributes along the way. His dry wit in not believing the things that happen right in front of his face made the original movie great, and made Dan Aykroyd funny despite playing the straightest of straight man roles. In that, any sequel (including THE HORRIBLE second movie) doesn't work because Murray's character is no longer a cynical and hilarious non-believer of the story itself. And Murray is the kind of presence that just cannot be replaced… not by female SNL stars (the infamous reboot) and not by children either (AFTERLIFE). Not even by Murray himself, who was completely lost in the second movie… and who never wanted to be in a third movie BECAUSE OF how bad the second movie was... 

Basically, the original GHOSTBUSTERS was a shocking success that no one saw coming (including all those who were THERE on opening night). Had John Belushi starred alongside Akyroyd as intended, it probably would have not worked since Belushi, as great as he was and always the craziest guy in the proverbial crazy train, didn't have the subtle skill of undoing all the work done by others. Murray was there all along to say, "This story is silly and I don't know why I'm here" which was needed given the insane premise and, without him OR Harold Ramis to make Dan's character that much more serious-minded about all the mind-boggling, fantastical science, there's simply no use of trying to trap the same lighting in the same bottle… which, as noted several times, wasn't even possible in 1989 for an unnecessary sequel attempting to tread the same ground that was miraculously successful to begin with.

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