Follow us on

Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Last Stand

May 19th, 2013

The Last Stand - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack

The Last Stand was important for two reasons. Firstly, it was the first starring role for Arnold Schwarzenegger in a decade, while it was also the English-language debut for Kim Jee-woon. Unfortunately, while I wanted the film to do well, it made less in total that I predicted it would make during its opening weekend. Is it really that bad? Or should moviegoers who skipped it the first time check it out on the home market?

The Movie

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Sheriff Ray Owens, who is the sheriff of a small border town of Sommerton Junction, Arizona. He only has three deputies, Sarah Torrance, Mike Figuerola, and Jerry Bailey, but considering how little crime happens here, there's not much need for more than that. In fact, there's so little that goes on in that town, that Mike and Jerry spend their time shooting guns at Lewis Dinkum's gun museum shooting comically oversized guns. While Ray is happy to have moved from Los Angeles to Sommerton Junction, Jerry wants to make the move to Los Angeles and asks Ray for help getting a job there.

Meanwhile, there's a hint of action approaching the town when Thomas Burrell comes through town and acted a little suspicious around Ray. It is enough that Ray gets Jerry to run Burrell's plate. We quickly see that his instincts were on the money, as Burrell kills a local farmer, Parsons, and uses his farm as HQ for something big. That something big involves helping Gabriel Cortez escape while he's being transferred to death row. In the process, Agent McKay is murdered and Agent Richards is kidnapped. Agent Bannister immediately begins the investigation on how this escape happened, when the transfer was supposed to be top secret. However, his bigger concern is catching Cortez before he makes it to Mexico. Of course, in order to get to Mexico, he's going to have to get through Sommerton Junction, Arizona.

There are already some parts of this plan in effect in Sommerton Junction, as we've already seen. However, the situation is about to get a lot more serious. Christie, the lass who runs the local diner, calls Ray, because the milk delivery is late. Normally this wouldn't be a police matter, but Parsons has never been late and she's worried he's had a heart attack. Ray agrees to look into it and sends Sarah and Jerry to investigate. Finally Jerry has some police work that involves more action that rescuing a cat from a tree. However...

At this point we begin to run into spoilers, at least as close to spoilers as we get in this movie.

Have I been using the term, "Generic" a lot lately? It feels that way. Unfortunately, that's the best term to use to describe this movie. This was a real disappointment, as I had higher hopes for the film. Given its January release date, I wasn't expecting an award-worthy movie. That said, the director, Kim Jee-woon, previously directed The Good, the Bad, the Weird, among other films. The Good, the Bad, the Weird was a stylistic western, so I had high hopes he would be able to give this modern day western a sense of style. That didn't happen. There were plenty of action scenes, but none of them stood out in a good way. How can you have a prison escape plan that involves a car magnet on a crane and make it dull? Additionally, the characters ranged from flat and uninteresting, to cartoonishly over-the-top, but not in a funny way. I don't think it is a spoiler to reveal Johnny Knoxville played the cartoonish character, but while he can handle this role very well, here his character, like all of the characters, wasn't deep enough, well, anything to be effective, even as just comic relief. Any time characters were required to do something emotional, it nearly always failed. Even normally reliable actors, like Forest Whitaker, couldn't work with this material.

I'm being a little harsh. If all you are looking for is a mindless action film, then this one is competently made. It doesn't break any new ground, not even in the action scenes, but at least you get the needed number of car chases and gun fights during its 107-minute long running time. "Competently made" is not the type of quote you put on the back of a DVD / Blu-ray case, but that's as enthusiastic as I'm willing to go.

The Extras

There are plenty of extras on the DVD and Blu-ray, starting with a quartet of making of / behind-the-scenes featurettes. The longest of these is Not in My Town, which runs nearly 30 minutes long and is your standard making of featurette. Cornfield Chaos is shorter and focuses on one of the car chase scenes. The Dinkum Firearm and Historic Weaponry Museum Tour is an 11-minute look at the weapons in the movie. Actor-Cam Anarchy is a behind-the-scenes featurette with Johnny Knoxville and Jaimie Alexander. Finally there are six deleted and seven extended scenes.

The technical presentation is excellent, for the most part. The colors are not as vivid as one might expect, but this was mostly a aesthetic choice. (The film mostly takes place in Arizona, much of it under the harsh Sun, so having slightly bleached out colors makes sense.) The level of details was always great, while the blacks are inky deep. It goes without saying that there are no compression issues. The 7.1 surround sound track is arguably better than the video in terms of quality with great use of the surround sound speakers with lots of ambient sounds, directional effects, etc. The bass is used to its full effect, while the dialogue is never compromised by the sound effects.

Currently on, the Blu-ray costs just three pennies more than the DVD at $14.99. It is hard to argue with that price.

The Verdict

The Last Stand isn't exactly a bad movie and the technical aspects are well-done. However, there's not a lot here that we haven't seen done before, and done with more of a sense of style. If you are a fan of the genre, it is worth a rental. If you are interested in buying, then the Blu-ray Combo Pack is worth the extra money over the DVD.

- Submitted by:

Filed under: Video Review, The Last Stand, Forest Whitaker, Luis Guzman, Johnny Knoxville, Eduardo Noriega, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harry Dean Stanton, Peter Stormare, Kim Jee-woon, Eddie Fernandez, Jaimie Alexander, Zach Gilford, Genesis Rodriguez, Christiana Leucas