Forget the film that inspired it. Even if it's tied to one of the era's biggest Hollywood flops, the Last Action Hero soundtrack has significant lasting value, serving as a wonderful snapshot of the turbulent early-'90s hard rock scene. It pools together previously unreleased songs from enduring hard rock favorites (AC/DC, Def Leppard, and Aerosmith) as well as mainstream metal thrashers (Megadeth, Anthrax), alt-metal fringe dwellers (Queensrÿche, Fishbone), new-breed prospects (Alice in Chains, Cypress Hill), and the customary Hollywood soundtrack schlock (Tesla's over the top title theme and Michael Kamen's album-closing symphonic metal [anti]climax). It's a mixed bag, for sure, but such was the nature of hard rock during the early '90s as both alt-rock and gangsta rap rocked the boat and ultimately siphoned off much of the fan base. In addition to standing as an interesting microcosm for the greater hard rock scene and all of its turbulence, Last Action Hero thankfully features quite a few above-average inclusions. Most notably, the pair of Alice in Chains songs ("What the Hell Have I," "Little Bitter") are on a par with those featured on the band's recent (and magnificent) Dirt album. Elsewhere, the ageless AC/DC and Def Leppard prove yet again that they are able to continually revive themselves year after year, with a big, loud anthem ("Big Gun") and a sappy, singalong acoustic ballad ("Two Steps Behind"), respectively. Less impressively, former thrash kingpins Megadeth ("Angry Again") and Anthrax ("Poison My Eyes") make their bids for Metallica-style crossover success by dumbing down their once cutting-edge styles. Then there's the odd yet welcome late-album inclusion of Cypress Hill ("Cock the Hammer") and Fishbone ("Swim") efforts, clear evidence that Lollapalooza and its alternative-minded patrons had indeed begun to make their mark on the American hard rock scene by summer 1993. Scattershot times warrant scattershot portraits, and Last Action Hero is precisely that: a snapshot of the upheavals, both popular and stylistic, that were besetting hard-edged, guitar-driven American rock during the early '90s.
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier