John Carpenter's Escape from L.A. Reviews
Snake is back! he's still bad, he's all in black and grunts more than ever (did he really need that heavy full length trench coat?! oh wait...it was for the coolness factor wasn't it). Was this specific adventure required? no not really, the plot is exactly the same as the first film, swap a President for a black box. I think the problem here was everyone wanted to see more from Snake and we all knew damn well it had to go down the same route really. I mean sure we could see any kind of action thriller with Snake but it had to have that same kind of lingering dread, the same countdown threat for Snake to feed off. In that sense the film works well and does offer another nice apocalyptic atmosphere.
Yet despite Snakes awesomeness we all know how badly this film turned out. I think the main issue was the fact the film simply plods along from one set piece to another like a videogame, accept the plot in between is very thin. It also comes across very obviously that Carpenter wanted to include as many extreme sports/situations for Snake as possible with no real reason for them, just to boost the coolness levels. We see Snake surfing on a tidal wave!, hang gliding whilst using a sub machine gun, riding a motorbike (although admittedly that was uber cool), playing basketball like a pro etc...Like many sequels/reboots/remakes Carpenter makes the classic mistake of going totally totally overboard with everything when he didn't need to. The first film didn't have all these extravagant set pieces, it was just Snake being the epitome of a badass in that epic Clint Eastwood/man with no name kind of way.
From the very beginning the film just follows the first film too closely. Plus the initial narration makes little sense, the President seems to know about the pending quake yet no one else does? no one does anything? It conveniently leaves LA as an island...like the President said it would? wut? how did he know?? Why didn't they just create their own area for the unwanted instead of waiting for a quake which may or may not do what they were waiting for?...or so it seemed.
The other main poke in the eye was the absolutely horrific CGI and bluescreen work all the way through the film. I saw the film when it was first released in the cinema and I do recall thinking even back then it looked a bit hokey, of course at the time it was fine but looking back now its dreadful! The sequences of CGI look amateurish at best, the underwater sub sequence is bordering on the kind of B-movie trashy CGI you'd expect from The Asylum...if not worse. Lets not talk about that hideous Universal Studios homage with the 'Jaws' appearance. Coupled with that you then have some awful bluescreen work throughout which just sticks out like a big red sore thumb.
The casting in the film is good, again don't get me wrong not everything was bad, but it just wasn't utilised correctly. Did we need government men being all gruff like Van Cleef from the first film? Bruce Campbell and his plastic surgery nightmares were a good touch but all too brief and again highly campy, Pam Grier is in the dictionary under cult movie star but her role here is just plain lame and not fully realised, Fonda's character is pointless and the main bad guy Cuervo was like an old campy Bond villain...plus he has been clearly modelled after Guevara.
It really is such a shame as everyone wanted more Plissken badassery and this film was like a bit of an insult really. There are some nice touches dotted around don't get me wrong, Snake on the bike was cool, seeing an old Snake was cool, the brief showdown with Bangkok rules was nice errr...I'm struggling. Carpenter pretty much rehashed everything from the first film but made it more campy, the grittiness was gone and replaced with lame characters from a panto. Name of the game...campy.
Its a strange mix really, a blend of top ice cool imagery and quips alongside watered down camp hijinx, with a small small smattering of blood. The film seems to be almost parodying the genre yet at the same time going along with it and trying to be semi serious. Myself I do like it to a degree mainly because of Snake but I just wish there was another chance to make up for this damp entry. The film does end with a good setup for 'Escape the Earth' or maybe how about some Snake Chronicles? we need to see Snake once more before its too late (and no new casting with reboots thank you very much).
Escape From L.A is pointless, and it's a waste of what could have been a good film, if there could have been a different angle on the story established in the first one. Maybe an expansion of the events of the first film fearing Snake would have been interesting. But the filmmakers went the same route, and simply changed the setting and tried to make it seem less dark and atmospheric, unlike the first film which was a fine action film that blended Science Fiction and action very well into one film. With Escape From L.A, John Carpenter has easily made one of the worst films of his career. I think that this had the potential of being a superb film; instead it misses the mark on so many levels.
Good movie! Escape From L.A is an underrated classic that gets better with repeating viewings and is a film that deserves more respect and is one of John Carpenter and Kurt Russell's best films. Highly Recommended.
The year is 2013 and Snake Plissken is back but this time it's L.A., which through the agency of earthquakes has become an island of the damned. But something has gone wrong in this new moral order, because the President's daughter has absconded to L.A. with a detonation device, and Snake is commandeered to retrieve it. But just below the surface there is a coiled Snake ready to strike.
"Snake is Back"
Okay, so Escape from LA isn't a prototypically good movie. The effects are awful, the plot and action stupid, and the acting is below average. Still John Carpenter, in his decline, is able to create a fun and cool film. Maybe it isn't good, but there's still so much enjoyment to get out of Escape from LA. That's something Carpenter, for the most part, has always been able to do. Maybe by this point of his career he wasn't making movies like Halloween or The Thing, but somehow movies like Prince of Darkness, Village of the Damned, and this are still able to be fun to watch while not particularly being good.
Snake is again captured and proposed a deal by the US government and the president who now in dystopia 2013 is president for life. Also all undesirables, which range from atheists to smokers, are deported to the island of LA. LA was broken apart by a huge earthquake and now is the territory of a terrorist named Cuervo who has a doomsday device that was brought to him by the presidents daughter. Snakes mission; to secure the device and kill the daughter. Oh, and he only has nine hours to do it or the virus the government infected him with will kill him.
I was struck by a lot of things in this movie, but número uno was how bad the special effects were. This however fit the movie surprisingly well. Everything from Russell's whispering dialogue to the plot to the effects is so ridiculous and silly; but it all still winds up working in the end, even if just barely.
As a Carpenter fan, I'll watch anything he's made, and for the most part, van find enjoyment in most of it. That's how it was with Escape from LA. If you go into this knowing Carpenter's style and just allow the ridiculousness to take you over, you'll have a good time. If you go in expecting a great movie from Carpenter, you'll be disappointed. It's worth a look if you are able to not take it too seriously.
In the then distant 2013, America has become a fascist moral empire, and Los Angeles, now an island, has become to the U.S. what Australia once was for the British: a place to dump all the criminals and undesirables. The President's daughter has gone rogue, stolen a doomsday device, and gone to L.A. to shack up with a revolutionary named Cuervo Jones who is getting ready to stage a retaking of the country.
Snake Plissken once again is called in to save the day, being, you know, expendable and all, but of course he has to be coerced into it, given 10 hours to recover the device, and eliminate both Jones and the president's daughter. If he fails, then he will succumb to virus that's been implanted in him.
Once again, Snake is plunged into a world filled with all kinds of colorful people, including Peter Fonda as a hippie surfer, Steve Buscemi as a slippery huckster, Bruce Campbell as a creepy plastic surgeon, and Pam Grier as a deep-voice transgender individual. I also loved who the villain Cuervo Jones is modeled after Che Guevara. A lot of these performances are pretty hammy, but nothing unbearable. Russell ultimately saves the movie and is the reason to see it, mostly because both he and the character are just so damn cool.
As far as the effects go, I think the original holds up better, even if this one has the bigger budget. The CGI here is quite dated and laughable, and even the non-computer trickery is fairly obvious in places. Still, the film has some cool sets, and takes some nice jabs at the culture of the location. That's another thing: this movie is really all over the place as far as tone, and it seems confused about whether it is a legitimate action movie, or a cheeky satire of one.
At least it's not boring, even if it is ultimately unnecessary and pointless. The music is good though, with a retooled, more western sounding theme, and some tracks by awesome contemporary bands like The Deftones, Clutch, Stabbing Westward, and Tool.
I don't totally recommend it, but it does have its moments, so if you feel you must, then go ahead.
The charm Kurt Russell brings to Snake Plisskin is not enough to carry a film saddled with such unoriginal material. Fans of "Escape from New York" (as I am) will spend the film noticing the writers' lazy recycling of "New York" plot points transplanted to "L.A." Unfortunately "L.A." doesn't have the grit that urban New York has so the tone doesn't travel well and becomes too campy.
There are some nice moments in "L.A.": such as a clever plastic surgery sequence that should have been the tone the movie should have strived for and great cameos by Bruce Campbell and Pam Grier, but there is so little originality in "L.A." that it doesn't even warrant a layover visit.
couldnt really get into this one,even tho i am a fan of sci-fi films and though there were some good actors in it such as kurt russel,.it just didnt cut it for me.
Snake Plissken: Sounds familiar.
A fan of Carpenter/Russell collaborations has to be torn about this film. It has that initial factor, but it is also a rehash of the same movie they made years prior, only with a higher budget for effects and the change to Los Angeles.
Same basic plot here, Snake is back, he's been captured and is given a chance for freedom, provided he recovers a special government item. Snake is even tricked into being given something that will kill him if he isn't fast enough.
Before Russell went on to be Stuntman Mike in Death Proof, this was a film containing the same Grindhouse quality. It is an over-the-top campy ride that is not at all serious, especially compared to the first.
Further helping this film is its supporting cast, which includes: Steve Buscemi, Stacy Keach, Bruce Campbel, Pam Grier, Robert Carradine, and Peter Fonda as a surfer.
[facing four gunmen at once]
Snake Plissken: I'm gonna give you assholes a chance. What do you say we play a little Bangkok Rules?
[picks up a tin can. The four gunmen back up and get ready]
Snake Plissken: Nobody draws until this hits the ground.
[throws the can high into the air, then pulls his revolvers and kills all four gunmen before the can lands. Can hits the ground]
Snake Plissken: Draw.
Carpenter's style of film is once again present, but the fact that almost everything is the same doesn't really help. Its good to know that Russell had a lot of fun getting to play this character again, because he is what holds the movie together.
It works well enough, but only the original is necessary.
Duty Sergeant: What would you say to all of us who believed in you, who looked up to you, who thought you stood for right over wrong, good over evil? Be my guest. What do you have to say, Plissken?
Snake Plissken: Call me Snake.
Both films have essentially the same premise; corrupt government officials send criminal tough guy "Snake" Plissken to infiltrate the ruins of a once-great city and retrieve some MacGuffin for them. In both films, Snake is reluctant to cooperate, but the government secures his compliance by threatening his life. So, Snake duly treks off to an urban wasteland, wasting thugs and meeting a variety of wacky characters on his way to completing his desperate mission.
This sequel is a step down from the original movie. The villain is inferior, the president is inferior, and even the special effects are inferior (note the positively laughable CGI when Snake pilots his submarine to L.A.; the approach to New York in the first film is infinitely classier.)
And, though both films have some very dark humor, I find that the jokes in the first are simply better. In "L.A.," there are some attempts at social satire, but by and large they don't work to well. For instance, the much-praised "plastic surgery" segment feels really isolated and pointless to me. It's a one-joke sequence that goes nowhere and contributes nothing to the plot. Ultimately, I think the first film has the edge in the humor department because it was co-written by Nick Castle, who reportedly lightened up the script and was quite a wit in general (though Castle is credited on this movie, I believe it's only because he wrote the original film.)
One thing I loved about"Escape from L.A." is its social commentary. I agree with some of this film's criticisms of the religious right, some may find the presentation of these criticisms to be superficial, condescending, and obnoxious. To me I guess its just fun satire, even though some aspects of the film hit close to home. Suffice to say, if you're conservative, this movie will annoy you, and who knows even if you're an open-minded liberal, it might annoy you. To each his or her own.
To sum up here Escape From L.A. has got some good cameos, a few decent scenes, but in the end...it just ain't the original. A fun film to watch but not a great film