John Carpenter's Escape from L.A. - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

John Carpenter's Escape from L.A. Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 15, 2007
So the first film was set in the distant future of 1997. In this sequel a massive earthquake hits LA and practically wipes it out in the distant future of the year 2000. And now in the present day of the year 2013 Snake Plissken is brought back to once again rescue the USA. I just find it amusing how these now old films are out of date with their distant future dates. Also on a personal note it sorta affects the films impact for me, dunno why, I guess it doesn't hold the same futuristic feel obviously.

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 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 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 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).
Super Reviewer
July 18, 2014
Sequel to John Carpenter's action classic, Escape from New York is a mediocre picture that recycles old ideas, except now, you've guessed it, the setting is in L.A. This was a completely unnecessary sequel that failed t9o really grab your attention, and it's basically the exact same film, except they've changed a few things around so that it looks like it's something new and exciting. This is disappointing, and it lacks anything really engaging and it's not worth your time, as it is just a pointless sequel that doesn't do anything with its concept. There might have been a great film here, but the fact is, is that it uses old ideas, and it becomes predictable in a way that just doesn't make it interesting. Not only that, but the material is laughable and there are scenes which are plainly ridiculous and stupid. Fans of the original, should definitely not give this one a shot because you're not missing much. This is a bland film with nothing new to offer, and it's lacking in any ideas and good entertainment value.
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.
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2010
Snake Is Back.

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.
Super Reviewer
February 14, 2013
Snake Plissken: Fuck you, I'm going to Hollywood...

"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.
Super Reviewer
June 13, 2006
This is an unnecessary, though admittedly enjoyable sequel to Escape From New York. It's a reasonably fun guilty pleasure, even if it pretty much rehashes the first film, only with a bigger budget and more outlandishness.

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.
Super Reviewer
March 25, 2007
Ok, so this isn't quite the pile of manure people would have you believe it to be. But on the other hand, it's not a very good movie, either. Just based on the comparisons to the original, it's very much laughable at some points. I think a lot of the CGI doesn't really fit in either. I think they were attempting to recapture some of what made Escape from New York so special, but with some goofy ideas and much more modern film techniques. Had it been done the old fashioned way, even with the goofy ideas, it might have fared better. It's not complete crap, but it's worth seeing the character of Snake again. For that much, I'm thankful. I just wish it were as edgy and raw as the original was.
The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
½ June 18, 2011
The unnecessary and atrocious "Escape from L.A." has all the qualities of what makes a sequel bad with its forced, recycled plots and misguided action sequences.

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.
Super Reviewer
December 7, 2010
John Carpenter's ``Escape From L.A'' is an action extravaganza~! its a dark vision of a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles,leveled by a MASSIVE earthquake, and cut off from the mainland by a flooded San Fernando Valley, and converted into a prison camp for the nation's undesirables.
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.
Super Reviewer
½ June 27, 2010
More of a remake than a sequel. This has Snake going into LA (now a prison) to retrieve something for the president. He's blackmailed into it, he gets into a fight, has one of his legs injured etc. etc. It's too similar to be really enjoyable, but there are some nice moments. The plastic surgery people were comical, grotesque, and a dig at the world of Hollywood. The effects are so terrible that they add to the charm. See Russell and Fonda surf with the poor CGI. Picks up towards the end, but you may as well watch Escape from New York.
Super Reviewer
May 6, 2007
The most famous war hero turned bank robber of America's near future manages to get himself caught (again) to be blackmailed (again) and sent on a mission into a lawless L.A. to retrieve a doomsday weapon for the government. Again. This film reminded me of "Dancing In The Street" by David Bowie and Mick Jagger. Escape From L.A. basically rehashes all of the ideas from New York, but somehow manages to exclude everything about it that made it good. Russell swaggers around dressed as a refugee from a gay version of the Matrix on the site of a bad goth music video amongst an ill-fittiing jigsaw puzzle of weak social satire and overblown action sequences shored up by some really dated looking CGI. The supporting cast sound good on paper, but Buscemi is wasted as a kind of post apocalyptic used car salesman, an unrecognisable Bruce Campbell gets to say two lines (literally) and disappears without trace and Pam Grier slums it as a transexual and has to say all her lines through a voice distorter that makes her sound more like The Exorcist than a man in drag. And Peter Fonda is just DREADFUL. The action is actually rather better handled than in New York, but everything else is just so damn lame, the worst example being the laughable death by shooting hoops scene. It's basically a couple of old men who were well past their sell by date throwing money at a soulless cover version of a popular classic that manages to look even more dated than the original. Like I said. Dancing In The Street.
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2009
This is a true great classic with Kurt Russell I have seen couple of times.
Super Reviewer
November 18, 2009
It's almost sad to watch. It's worth watching for Kurt Russell, but the movie is a disgrace to everything Escape From New York stands for. It's corny and fake looking. I mean, Snake surfs and plays basketball. Kurt Russell tried so hard, hopefully he'll have another chance at redemption somewhere down the line.
Super Reviewer
July 1, 2007
A fun movie done in the same template as "Escape from New York". The surfing scene looked silly. Not enough Los Angeles landmarks were shown. It was goofier. Not a classic like the original. It was like how "The Crow: City of Angels" related to the original "The Crow". I liked the energetic soundtrack by John Carpenter. The social commentary played for laughs was well done. Kurt Russell does a great job as Snake Plissken again. The action never seems to let up, with a nice variety of sequences involving cars, explosions, basketball, surfing, underwater and aerial assaults. The kickass ending made me smile.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2007
A reasonable sequel to Escape from New York which was made 15 years earlier! Starting to look a little dated now but it has a certain retro action flick charm about it.
Super Reviewer
May 30, 2006
President: You'll be given a full pardon for every moral crime you've committed in the United States.
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.
Super Reviewer
January 30, 2008
The right type of cheesy fun this world needs more often.
Super Reviewer
½ October 23, 2007
This one is pretty fun. I like Bruce Campbell as a plastic surgery mutant.
Super Reviewer
½ October 16, 2007
Snake Plissken doing it again. I thought that he'd be taller though.The story is as interesting as it is entertaining. Good, but not great. The movie itself is somewhat slow, action wise, but moves at a quick pace, which keeps it from becoming completely boring. The film does a nice job of throwing different and weird characters at you throughout to keep things fresh, but there are some characters/segments that seemed entirely useless with no real reason to show up in the plot. But, that doesn't mean that their parts aren't entertaining to watch. Its almost always a hoot to see Bruce Campbell on screen. The basketball scene is also a favorite of mine, although the shot selection is somewhat unrealistic.The one shining point of this film is the acting, along with the dialogue. There are a ton of recognizable faces in this film. Valeria Golino, Pam Grier, and Steve Buscemi do what you expect them to do. The real stars of the show are, of course, Kurt Russell and Stacy Keach. Both perform their characters well. I also enjoyed Michelle Forbes' character.This film also uses CG at certain points and while it isn't all that bad for its time, it is still disappointing. Its just a good thing that this film doesn't depend on it much.For those of you that enjoyed the dark Escape from New York, then you should give this a try. Just don't expect to have a classic on your hands like the previously mentioned title."What's it going to be, Plissken? Them or us?"
Super Reviewer
July 1, 2007
"Escape from New York" is to me a classic film, it's memorably dark, seedy, suspenseful and even funny. Alas, "Escape from L.A." is not nearly as memorable - in fact, it plays out as nothing more than a remake of its far more thrilling predecessor.

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 just ain't the original. A fun film to watch but not a great film
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