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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.97%
Worth A Look: 20.51%
Average: 19.23%
Pretty Bad: 14.1%
Total Crap37.18%

5 reviews, 48 user ratings

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Escape from L.A.
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jack Sommersby

"See Snake Sputter Rather than Hiss"
1 stars

For those of us hungrily awaiting this sequel 15 years after the original, one gave it the benefit of the doubt for a while but soon had to admit we were watching a bona-fide disappointment. Then again, 1996 was a crappy year for summer movies.

Co-writer/director John Carpenter's 1981 Escape From New York had both snap and style. This remake, again co-written and directed by Carpenter, has none of the former and only a smidgen of the latter. In fact, it's a largely joyless affair, one that follows the story template of the original to such a high degree it's almost as if you're seeing a rotoscoping of it with only small changes. In the original, the criminal rate in the country in 1997 rose to such a catastrophic rate that the island of Manhattan was turned into a maximum-security prison where the prisoners were sentenced to serve out their life terms; in the remake, after a massive earthquake hits California, an anal-retentive, Bible-thumping president makes Los Angeles, now an island, a similar prison, where those not embracing moral values are banished to. Kurt Russell again stars as Snake Plissken, the biggest criminal in the country, and he's again blackmailed into carrying out a mission at the bequest of the president of the United States: this time, he must retrieve a top-secret black box that can shut down the power supplies of entire countries; it's in the possession of a revolutionary from a Latin country, who keeps an army of well-armed thugs around his person. And, again, there's a beat-the-clock element to it: in the original, Plissken had twenty-four hours to carry out his mission; now, he has ten. Yadda, yadda, yadda. The film has more than a few novel touches (a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and his facially-deformed patients; a trashed-out, sleaze-filled Hollywood Bowl), and while they're more organic and imaginative than the satiric touches in the original, they're lingered over as if they were more witty than they are, and the narrative drive takes a back seat to them. Carpenter's handling is often lumbering and lazy, counting more on the writing to carry things over than the execution, which was the main plus to the original; and the supporting cast and characters are second-rate (compare these with the stellar cast of the original, and there's just no contest). Even more unfortunate, Kurt Russell, who seemed to be channeling Clint Eastwood the first time around, seems aesthetically tired rather than dramatically cynical here, giving a lethargic performance as if there were quicksand in his veins -- there isn't an iota of freshness anywhere in it. Escape From L.A. is the kind of film that throws in chases involving motorcycles, hang gliders and surfboards, and still can't elicit any excitement, with the main culprit Carpenter's poor staging, which has a boat-payment perfunctoriness to it. Suffice to say, any fifteen minutes from the original bests this remake's entirety in spades, making this a long-awaited but lame disappointment from a director and star who should have known better.

The original is now available in a 2-disc DVD special edition, which possesses the John Carpenter/Kurt Russell audio commentary that first appeared on the LaserDisc back in 1993.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 06/11/06 02:03:11
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2013 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell cheesy fun 3 stars
4/21/14 Chidwell The "bad" special effects are a huge part of the fun. 4 stars
6/08/12 Monday Morning Tom McNulty was in it. That's good enough for me, the other Tom McNulty. 5 stars
9/14/09 Jeff Wilder Great purely fun B movie 4 stars
1/03/08 mrsinister A much better cast than the story deserved. Oh well 3 stars
11/02/07 Skip A stylish thrill ride with an ending that makes it all worth it. Grows on you. 5 stars
12/03/06 David Pollastrini great action with a few comedy bits 5 stars
11/03/06 AJ Muller great fun,clever satire,and John Carpenter,not to mention Snake Fucking Plissken AGAIN. 5 stars
9/13/06 Booksworm Makes a great double feature with Escape from New York 4 stars
6/11/06 San Lamar crap! pure crap! 1 stars
1/06/06 JM Synth Basically a big-budget remake. Okay, with some great satire, but shoulda been more fun 3 stars
12/01/05 Blutarsky All you naysayers are wrong. Get a clue guys. It's called satire. 5 stars
5/15/05 Indrid Cold A fairly cool hero makes it just barely watchable. 2 stars
1/17/05 Jeff Anderson Sad to say, a big disappointment from J. Carpenter & K. Russell. Not up to the original. 2 stars
12/06/04 Mr. Kags Escape from L.A is a piece of shiat. Don't even compare to NEW YORK 1 stars
10/18/04 Ian Worst fight scenes ever...What mr Pink said! 2 stars
4/11/04 American Slasher Goddess Watchable,but it doesn't come close to the original. 3 stars
11/28/03 john well there is Snake - which is good but there is also a terrible movie you have to endure 2 stars
9/27/03 Mr. Hat Music is OK, cast is cool, ending is classic. A bit 2 overdone & fake, though. 4 stars
5/22/03 mr. Pink Unbelievably bad sequel to an oriiginal that wasn't THAT good anyway. 1 stars
4/15/03 The Talking Elbow This could have been so much better, but l give it 5 stars cause of the ending, GREATending 5 stars
4/14/03 GMan Sucky villian. Snake rocks. New York version beats the West, hands down. 3 stars
4/14/03 Jack Sommersby A basic rehash of the original. It's cheesy, with a crushing bore of a villain. 2 stars
4/06/03 y2mckay Okay, it's cheesy as fuck and far inferior. But come on, it has SNAKE PLISSKEN 3 stars
2/11/03 spacecowboy HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHHAAHAHHA >:(.....TAKE ME NOW GOD. 1 stars
6/19/02 Charles Tatum Truly awful 1 stars
12/24/01 Jake I'm a fan of Carpenter but this movie has nothing worth understanding. Bad effects also. 1 stars
10/11/01 Andrew Carden Not As Good As The Original. 3 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk Carpenter fans understand, others need not apply. Great ending. 5 stars
7/15/01 Rampage I wanted to whomp Russell's arse after watching that horrid tripe! Jeez! 1 stars
7/07/01 TLsmooth "Hi, I'll have a shit burger with extra Escape from LA please." 1 stars
7/06/01 Craig Blanchard HOW DOES SHIT LIKE THIS GET MADE??!! The World is mad! 1 stars
7/03/01 taj One of Carpenter's worst. A few cool ideas lost amidst a cheezy screenplay. 2 stars
6/02/01 Thrillhouse laughably bad, make American History X look like Judge Dredd 2 stars
4/24/01 Spetters The supporting cast make this shit bearable. 2 stars
3/27/01 Jun I was too stupid to sit through this crap... 1 stars
3/04/01 Rael A failure even as a B-grade explotation flick. I saw it for free and felt ripped off. 2 stars
10/26/99 Karahde Khan If you've seen the 1st, you've seen this. If you haven't seen the 1st, skip this anyway. 1 stars
8/20/99 Japtalian I wanted to kick Kurts ass after I saw this piece of shit! 1 stars
12/15/98 Binky Shitful effort. 1 stars
10/27/98 Silent Rob Misfired idea whose original fire flickers through momentarily. Loved the duster at the end 3 stars
10/24/98 Vincent Oh Mr. Carpenter- what happened? You used to make good films 1 stars
9/16/98 Lonatic One of the worst sequels next to the 'Blues Bros. 2000'. Lame special fx! 1 stars
9/08/98 Swan If you aren't 'in sync' with Carpenter's idea, you won't line it. It's better, 2nd viewing. 3 stars
8/28/98 Mister Whoopee Snake Plisken is an anagram of "total and complete bastard". 2 stars
8/26/98 Pete I now know why Elvis shot tv's. I think AJ Langer could be good in a decent role. 2 stars
8/25/98 Miss Stress did this movie really need to be made? i don't think so 1 stars
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  09-Aug-1996 (R)



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