Next year marks the 30th anniversary of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Last Action Hero, and the debate continues to rage as to whether or not the box office disappointment was too far ahead of its time, or simply an underwhelming blockbuster.
Perhaps the single biggest reason it flopped was that the self-aware action comedy had the misfortune of going head-to-head at the box office with Jurassic Park. Steven Spielberg’s classic was viewed as stiff competition for the proven drawing power of Schwarzenegger’s signature blend of biceps and one-liners, but nobody could have predicted it would go on to become the highest-grossing movie in history.
While it’s become a firm fan favorite that still delivers plenty of smart and subversive entertainment, Redditors have once again been picking through the pros and cons to try and decide on the true merits of Last Action Hero as a whole.
There’s a case to be made that Last Action Hero ended up becoming a victim of its own ambition, with the spec script by Zak Penn and Adam Leff originally written to be a takedown and satire of the action tropes popularized by the likes of John McTiernan’s Die Hard and Shane Black’s Lethal Weapon, only for the very same duo to be brought on board as director and scribe when the project went through development.
That only served to add another interesting wrinkle to Last Action Hero, even if it wasn’t self-aware enough to fall into the category of self-awareness, as oxymoronic as that sounds. Either way, it’s become clear that the high concept caper continues to prove polarizing three decades on from landing with a thud and being left in the dust by Jurassic Park.