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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 Rob Gonsalves

"Carpenter's tongue-in-cheek sequel/remake."
4 stars

Watching 'Escape from L.A.' is like attending a huge reunion concert where the aging band members prove they can still rock.

They get into character and play tried-and-true hits, and the fans pretend it's 1977 again. When the opening chord of a familiar song pierces the arena, everyone goes nuts. Bands like Kiss and the Sex Pistols offer time-machine events that turn nostalgia into self-defining incantation: I wanna rock and roll all night. I am the anti-Christ. Call me Snake.

Movies, of course, are a different medium. Yet Escape from L.A., John Carpenter's hard-driving sequel to his 1981 cult thriller Escape from New York, comes close to duplicating the ritualistic highs of a concert. Shamelessly Xeroxing the basic story of the 1981 film, it breaks little ground. The resolute sameness of the movie is part of its point. It's really a remake, or, more precisely, a remix. Carpenter can still rock.

In Escape from New York, set in 1997, the criminal anti-hero Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) was sent into Manhattan, which had become a walled-off prison, to rescue the President. Now, in 2013, another President (Cliff Robertson) has decreed L.A. -- split off from the country by a 9.6 earthquake -- an island for "undesirables." The President's daughter, rebelling against his fundamentalist politics, is holed up in L.A. with Latino rebel Cuervo Jones (George Corraface), who has a "black box" that spells global doom. Snake's mission: retrieve the box and whack the brat.

The Escape movies have a built-in trap. Snake couldn't care less about his missions -- his "employers" must inject him with delayed-action bombs or viruses to get him to comply -- and we share his apathy. In an odd way, John Carpenter dabbles in deconstruction: he invites contempt for his own plot. The ride, though, is fast and almost festive -- more fun, actually, than the entertaining but dour original. Escape from L.A. finds Carpenter in a playful mood. He brings in such West Coast targets as Disneyland, plastic surgery, surfing, and Hollywood (talk about biting the hand that fed you $50 million) for satirical spanking. That Escape from L.A. itself is a standard-issue Hollywood copycat sequel only sharpens the satire.

Shooting and snarling his way through the chaos, Kurt Russell wrings wit and personality out of Snake's two basic expressions. Snake is what it takes to get things done in L.A. (He rang no satirical bells in New York, where everyone was as surly and grungy as he was.) Carpenter, writing with producer Debra Hill and Russell, gives Snake a menagerie of eccentrics to hiss at: weaselly Steve Buscemi, surfin' bird Peter Fonda, gender-bending lioness Pam Grier.

Escape from L.A. is, in Carpenter's words, "cowboy noir." Perched on his motorcycle, wearing a slick black overcoat that reflects the flames in the streets, Snake is the coolest gunslinger in the West Coast. The color scheme is perfect noir: midnight black and fiery orange -- the colors of Halloween.

'Escape from L.A.' is John Carpenter's greatest-hits concert album. Now let's hear some new songs from the band, okay?

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 01/13/07 09:57:53
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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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