Shorts! Blu-ray Reviews Done Quickly (Last Action Hero 4K Blu-ray, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot Blu-ray, Almost Famous 4K Blu-ray)

We take a look at three recent home video releases: One is a notorious flop from a tried and true action star, one is thought to be a flop by a tried and true action star, but wasn't, and the last is a from the heart coming of age story about a kid who just wants to write about music. 

Release Date: June 18th, 1993 (theatrical)
                            June 15th, 2021 (4K blu-ray)
Run Time: 2 hours 10 minutes 55 seconds
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 2160p (2.39:1 aspect ratio) (4K disc)
                1080p (2.39:1 aspect ratio) (2K disc)
Sound: English Dolby Atmos
               English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 
               English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 
               English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 
               Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
               French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
               German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
               Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1
               Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
               Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
               Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
               Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
               Thai: Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English
                   English SDH
Slipcover: No
Digital Copy: Yes
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin O'Brien, Charles Dance, F. Murray Abraham, and Ian McKellen
Written by Shane Black and David Arnott
Directed by John McTiernan
Rating: PG-13 (strong action sequences)

Let's start with LAST ACTION HERO. Released in the summer of 1993, and posed to be one of the biggest films of the year, LAST ACTION HERO came out the week after JURASSIC PARK wowed audiences and no one really cared. The film had an insane amount of promotion behind it. Hell, they even paid NASA to paint the title of the film on a space shuttle that was launching close to the film's premiere. Just think about that. They spent millions of dollars to paint the name of the film on a rocket that would be seen for no more than twenty seconds. All that money for little results. I really highly doubt that more than five people who watched this rocket shoot off into space thought they should go see LAST ACTION HERO because they saw the film's title on the rocket that just took off. Anyway, the film was hated by critics and those who saw it alike. I saw the film in the theater on opening day and I was pretty indifferent to it. I liked it enough, but I was also disappointed by it. The film was hyped beyond anything that people can comprehend nowadays, and it didn't live up to this hype. The action scenes are pretty well done and are a really fun time. The satire can be on point, but it can also miss the mark completely. This is a film that needs to be a lot bigger in its targets than it is. There are moments of brilliance, though. After falling into the Lebrea Tar Pits, Schwarzenegger is able to clean off all of the tar with one single napkin. It's scenes like this one that show that the filmmakers weren't asleep at the wheel, but then the film takes its time getting to the climax of the film, and when it does, it is completely underwhelming. Like I said, I like the film, but I know now, after 25 years, that the film isn't everything that it was supposed to be.

LAST ACTION HERO is a film that never really got the respect that any film deserves. The film has always been released as a budget title. The DVD and the Blu-ray releases were movie-only releases with transfers that were ok but left a lot to be desired. That is until this 4K blu-ray release. Sony has gone back to the film's original negative and given us a true 4K transfer. This means that not only do we get a massive uptick in detail, but we also get a much richer picture than we have ever had before. The early scenes of New York have never looked so dirty and the scenes that take place in the movie with a movie have never looked bolder. The HDR grading gives the film fuller and truer colors and the nighttime scenes have some incredible shadow detail. There are three included audio tracks that my audience will want to sample. We have a Dolby Atmos 7.1 track, a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, and a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. All of them sound great with the Atmos track really leading the way. Great highs and lows and everything sounds how it should. 

The extras on the disc are a mixed bag. We get a brand new audio commentary from director John McTiernan. McTiernan clearly likes the film but does apologize for it not hitting the high mark that he sets for all his films. He also has some great stories throughout the track. Some might be put off by the frequent gaps of silence as McTiernan stops to watch the film, but his stories are worth sitting through the gaps. There is also a selection of deleted scenes to take it. Most of them are short scene extensions, but there are a few whole scenes here. None of these scenes are memorable and they were rightfully cut. There is also a music video, a short making-of shot during production, and the film's teaser that is marked as the theatrical trailer. The actual trailer is not found on this disc. All of the special features are found on the 4K disc this time around, which is always nice. A digital copy is also here for those who use them.

Mill Creek Entertainment
Release Date: February 21st, 1992 (theatrical)
                            March 9th, 2021 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 27 minutes 7 seconds
Region Code: A
Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH
Slipcover: Yes
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Estelle Getty, JoBeth Williams, Roger Rees, Martin Ferrero, and Gailard Sartain
Written by Blake Snyder, William Osborne, and William Davies
Directed by Roger Spottiswoode
Rating: PG-13 (for a scene of nudity)

STOP OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT is a 1991 action-comedy starring Sylvester Stallone and Estelle Getty. Stallone plays a cop who doesn't want his mother to come out and visit him because she is always embarrassing him. She comes out anyway and witnesses a murder. She then helps Stallone find the killer. This is by no means a "good" film in the traditional sense. It is a well-made film from a technical aspect, but the jokes are all the "low hanging fruit" variety. This doesn't mean that the film isn't entertaining, and not in a bad way. I don't think that most of the jokes land, but I do like the film. This is the perfect "home sick" film. This is the type of film that you would catch on tv when you are home sick from school or work. You are flipping through the channels and you land on this film and you watch the whole thing. You might laugh. You might not. You had a good time watching it. 

The blu-ray from Mill Creek is fitting for the film that it is. The transfer is fine. It's definitely an HD transfer but there are problems with it. It is a rather flat-looking transfer, but the colors and skin tones look good. Like I said, it is a transfer that no one will talk about because it's just fine. The same goes with the audio. It's fine. It gets the job done. Dialogue sounds fine. There are no extras, not even the film's theatrical trailer. This release does feature a slipcover (while supplies last) that features the original VHS art from back in the day. While I do like this approach, I do wish that they would use the entire artwork instead of having it positioned off to the side while the rest of the art features a VHS tape. I get that it is supposed to be retro, but it looks kind of tacky. Mill Creek should look at how MVD does its Rewind Collection covers. That is how you do the retro look.

Release Date: September 22, 2000 (theatrical)
                           July 12th, 2021 (4K blu-ray)
Run Time: 2 hours 3 minutes 13 seconds (theatrical)
                     2 hours 41 minutes 29 seconds (Untitled)
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 2160p (1.85:1 aspect ratio) (both versions)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
               French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Slipcover: No
Digital Copy: Yes
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee, and Zooey Deschanel
Written by Cameron Crowe
Directed by Cameron Crowe
Rating: R (language, drug content, and brief nudity) (theatrical)
               Unrated (language, drug content, and brief nudity) (Untitled)

ALMOST FAMOUS is a 2000 drama/comedy about a 15-year-old writer who lands a job covering the band Stillwater for Rolling Stone magazine. He goes on tour with the band as he tries to interview each member of the band. It's a coming-of-age story that doesn't talk down to the audience and actually makes us feel good about life. I saw ALMOST FAMOUS in the theater in 2000 and did not like it. I thought that it was too all over the place and some things brought up did have a payoff. When the film was released on DVD, there was a director's cut version of the film titled "UNTITLED" that added 40 minutes back into the film. I gave this version a shot and fell in love with the film. So much heart and soul was added back into the film that we wonder why the film was cut down. I know that it was for time, but sometimes a film just needs to be released as is and this is one of those films. So many scenes that were removed are vital to the film even if they don't feel like it on the surface. There is a scene that was cut that shows the band at a radio station trying to do an interview with a host who clearly gets way into being high. Sure, the scene could be cut and was cut, but it is needed for the "world-building" of the film. It is also a very funny scene. There are tons more scenes that were cut that needed to be in the film and, thankfully, they are all here for the director's cut. 

ALMOST FAMOUS was never a good-looking film, electing to capture the look of the time rather than trying to be stylish. This means that earth tones are the primary colors of the film, and on the older DVDs and blu-rays, these were kind of smeary. Here, they are bold and not smeary. The HDR does a great job of making these colors natural. Detail is not as high as we would think it would be, but that is because the film has a soft focus to it that makes everything have a dream-like feel it like we are inside of a memory. The uptick in resolution does give us a picture that is film-like while being close to what Cameron Crowe had in mind when making the film. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track found on this release is the same on from the 2011 blu-ray and that isn't a bad thing. The concert scenes are all-encompassing and really make us feel like we are there while the dialogue scenes sound just right. 

The extras are mostly found on the theatrical version disc, mostly. There is a commentary track on the Bootleg Cut of the film with Cameron Crowe, his mother, and other people who were involved with the making of the film which is a fantastic track that really needs to be heard. The rest of the extras are also worth going through. There are some new extras like a new interview with Cameron Crowe, along with some new deleted scenes and behind the scenes stuff. The rest of the extras are from the previous blu-ray and include a solid making of, a short interview with the real Lester Bangs, and some of the articles that Crowe wrote for Rolling Stone. I had fun with these extras.

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