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The Last Stand (iTunes HD Digital Download Review)

The Last Stand (iTunes HD Digital Download Review)Like my curious flirtation with Mama in my last HD Digital Download review over here, I really wanted nothing to do with The Last Stand.  Why?  Quite simply…I felt embarrassed for Arnold Schwarzenegger in it after seeing how much he makes fun of himself in the trailers.  It was funny at first, but I have heard and seen enough of it in the Expendables films.  However, unlike the boring and painful experience of sitting through Mama, The Last Stand was actually a decent/fun movie and a great action vehicle for Arnold to launch his feature film comeback with his first starring role since 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.  So join me, if you’re brave enough, at taking a behind-the-scenes look at a fun action and adrenaline charged film, which hit theaters this past January.  Complete with outrageous stunts and humor, I promise you’ll have a good time with it.  I did.  So I know you will too.  Moving on…

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Film 

The Last Stand was written by Andrew Knauer and directed by Kim Ji-woon.  As I mentioned above the film is the governor’s first lead role since 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, as well as the first American production for the South Korean director Kim Ji-woon, cinematographer Kim Ji-yong and composer Mowg. Sounds exciting, huh?  Something fresh?!  Well…it is!  And we’ll talk about it some more in detail, but essentially the film focuses on a small town sheriff and his deputies (think Jackass’ Johnny Knoxville here for a moment) who must stop a dangerous drug lord driving through town in a very, I mean VERY fast car from escaping to Mexico.  Sounds easy enough, huh?  Sure!

So in addition to everyone’s favorite Austrian, the film features notable appearances by funny man Johnny Knoxville, Forest Whitaker, Zach Gilford, Jaimie Alexander, Genesis Rodriguez and more.  The Lionsgate flick made its go around in theaters on January 18th, just covering its 30 million dollar budget.  But I have a feeling it will do pretty good on home media formats in a few weeks.  So let’s take a closer look at the story now.

So initially, our story is all over the place as Act 1 serves to introduce us to all the characters, their problems and the various fires they are putting out.  We meet Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold) living the life in quiet Sommerton Junction, Arizona and learn a little about his former LAPD life he left behind.  We also meet all his deputies and the one man I wish we saw more of in the film, vintage arms collector Lewis Dinkum (Knoxville).  We are also treated to the daring and mostly thrilling escape of international drug lord Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) from FBI custody in a breathtaking brightly light night time sequence in downtown Las Vegas.  Good God…how I love the Vegas nightlife and night time cinematography shots within feature films.  I love those lights!

So Arnold’s character, I guess you can say, loves the quiet life in Sommerton Junction, Arizona where nothing too out of the ordinary really happens.  His young deputy Jerry Bailey (Gilford), on the other hand, feels very different as he longs for wild action and excitement in Owens’ former stomping ground, Los Angeles.  I think before moving on I should also make mention about three things regarding Cortez’s escape.

1. Gabriel Cortez escaped the custody of FBI Agent John Bannister, Forest Whitaker’s character.

2. He takes the beautiful FBI Agent Ellen Richards (Genesis Rodriguez) with him.

3. And last but certainly not least, he drives one of the coolest, fastest and loudest cars ever to grace the silver screen…a modified Chevy Corvette C6 ZR1 complete with night vision that’s able to top speeds of over 200 mph.  Vroom!  Talk about cool!

So eventually the multiple storylines converge and what we’re left with is one hell of a showdown…or should I say throwdown?  All that’s left in the way of speeding villain Cortez is an old Sheriff and his misfit band of deputies, which at this moment in time also includes Knoxville’s character.  Do they have the skills to pay the bills, or in this case the ability to stop Cortez and his army?  Oh yeah.  I said army.  I did not mention that before, did I?  Well Arnold and his boys better bring the fire power.  It’s going to be one hell of battle!  And that you can take to the bank and cash…even in this bad economy.

So let’s be honest.  Let’s talk about the “real” star of this flick.  Let’s talk about that car…or should I say cars.  Not since I saw Cage’s Eleanor in the remake of Gone in 60 Seconds have I drooled over an onscreen car so much.  This Vette is an absolute monster.  Wait until you see what it’s capable of.  Also impressive is this red Camaro SS in the film, but it fails in comparison when talking about this Vette.  That’s like talking apples versus watermelons.  However, the two cars do provide one heck of a romping car chase that takes you through a certain terrain you’re not normally accustomed to seeing cars race through on purpose.  I must admit though that the diehard Mustang fan in me wanted to see a Cobra in there too, but I was just as happy with these two Chevy vehicles as well.  Nah I’m lying.  I loved them!

And the main reason we are here is to talk about the man, Arnold’s comeback feature.  I have to say that it’s painful at times watching his elder body move and speak, but also very welcoming too.  I really missed his onscreen charisma and charm these past ten years of life.  But man does he ever resemble Clint Eastwood now in his elder years.  To me, the resemblance is uncanny.  And the rest of the cast, while forgettable, seems to be having a good time with this action vehicle and I’m also A-Okay with them all too.  Just wish Knoxville had more screen time, dammit!

I think my only nitpick here is that damn digital blood.  I know they also used squibs throughout, but that damn spray of digital blood took me out of the element every time, not to mention this one bullet hole effect they had in a baddie’s forehead.  Boo.  It reminded me of that horrible Stallone film Bullet to the Head, which also came out this year.  Now with that being said, I will say this.  I really enjoyed the action in this one.  Yes, it’s embarrassing seeing an elder Arnold fumble and look all awkward, but the fighting style and action sequences on display here were all done semi-realistically given Arnie’s limited range of motion now and not unbelievable like say a 70-year-old Indiana Jones taking on men one-third his age.  So I applaud that.  There was nothing too over-the-top in regards to the hand-to-hand combat and fighting scenes that Arnold partakes in save for him falling off a roof.  LOL. But even then he had a hard time getting up.  Love it!  Ha ha.

So now that you know what to expect from the film, let’s say you and I take a closer and more detailed look at the A/V vitals of this iTunes HD Digital Download and everything you can expect to discover in the Extras section so there are no surprises should you decide to purchase this weeks before its Blu-ray brother hits the scene.  What say you?

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Video 

Being an HD Digital Download, things looked relatively well here.  Of course, there’s always room for improvement, but I was quite happy with what I saw.  My biggest nitpicks would be the sharpness.  I have seen much sharper pictures in a HD Digital Download, but having never seen this one theatrically I can’t comment on whether it’s inherent in the print or a result of compression.  Speaking of compression, I saw very little of that here.  Thank baby Jesus!  The colors, although not the most vibrant, looked natural throughout.  Black levels were always deep.  Skin tones were accurate.  The sandy/dusty and sun drenched landscape of Arizona made me feel like I was there…and also very thirsty.  So all in all, I think this video transfer did it’s job efficiently.  It’s the little download that could so to speak.  Ha ha.  I saw no instances of any ugly artifacts or noise in the picture.  Like the film, it’s decent, but not perfect.

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Audio 

While the video was almost perfect, the audio is what really engages you in this film.  It’s wildly fantastic and over-the-top ferocious.  And I mean that in a very good way.  From the constant barrage of gunshots to the VROOM of the muscle cars SPEEDING by (and I mean s-p-e-e-d-i-n-g), my rears and subwoofer haven’t got this much work in a long time.  And that’s good.  They needed their exercise.  My neighbors on the other hand, I don’t think are too happy with me today.  Oh well.  So I guess it goes without saying that I was literally and audibly blown away by this Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track.  I think I’ll press play on this title every time my surround speakers need a good workout.  I was that impressed.  And of course, let’s not forget the dialog.  I never once had any problems understanding a word or any Arnoldism.  Now that’s truly important…not to miss any Arnoldism.

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Extras 

In the infancy of these HD Digital Downloads, you have to take what you can get.  In our case, we are treated to two rather beefy, for a Digital Download that is, featurettes plus Lionsgate trailers and chapter/scene selections here in the iTunes Extras department.  There’s not too much to brag about like there would on your typical Blu-ray release, but if you like the feature, I think it’s “warrants” look.  Get it?  Warrants!  LOL.  I crack myself up.  So let’s take a closer look, boss.  And don’t forget, unless you have the ability to beam it to your HDMI connected Apple TV, which you should, the below supplements are only available for viewing on your Mac and unfortunately your PC.

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  • Not In My Town: Making The Last Stand (28:12) – How about that?  Finally!  It’s an iTunes Extra with some girth and meat.  I’m so used to the lean.  It’s like you don’t even need a reason.  Can I get a hell yeah?  Cast and producers talk about director Kim Ji-woon and how’s he able to make the simple rich.  Kim dons a pretty cool hat throughout.  They also touch base on how this was a good role for Arnold to come back on.  Arnold says he picked this film because it was a fantastic script.  The cast all talk about how surreal it was to share the screen with Arnold.  Aw.  Why am I the one blushing?  They pretty much all grew up watching the man.  And wow!  I’m impressed seeing Arnold doing as much as the stunts as he did.  Arnold really does bring in a lifetime of experience as they say.  But truth be told, I don’t know how they all did it since Kim doesn’t speak English.  That must be one hell of a good translator on set.  That’s all I’ll say.
  • The Dinkum Firearm & Historic Weapon Museum (11:23) -If you love guns, then you’ll love this featurette.  Make sure you check it out for the Smith & Wesson 500 alone.  Wow!  So the cast and crew basically get together here and talk about the firearms, the training and the authenticity of it all, including the museum.  Good stuff though!

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Summary 

So yeah!  I was surprised to like this one as much as I did.  I had fun with it.  It was a trip down memory lane.  And Gerard Iribe was relentless in encouraging me to watch it so I thought what hell…I’ll give it a “shot.”  And I’m glad I did.  It’s not the greatest script to ever be produced, but unlike Mama or the Ghost Rider films, it’s actually an enjoyable good time that I highly recommend giving it a chance for a nonsensical evening of action enjoyment.  You can enjoy it now on iTunes or you can wait for another three weeks for The Last Stand to make its “stand” on the Blu-ray or DVD format on May 21st.  Enjoy!

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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