51 of 62 people found the following review helpful
When I first saw this film in the theaters, I really didn't like it. In fact, I was pretty let down! I had grown up with Escape From New York, and to my horror, John Carpenter remade his own film! I'm not kidding, REMADE it. Right down to Snake getting shot in the leg and limping for the last half of the film. Years later I revaluated my opinion. You can't make a film as corny as this on accident, especially if you're a veteran director like John Carpenter; It had to be done on purpose. I've read numerous interviews over the years and have found out two things, and I think these two things are the reason this film ended up the way it did. First, John Carpenter hates sequels. He never wanted to make sequels to his films. He never wanted a sequel to Halloween(let alone six! That's why he produced Halloween 3 which people hated so much, coz he was trying to take this series in a different direction and not retread the whole Michael Myers thing). I also understand that both Carpenter and Kurt Russell were under alot of studio pressure to make this film. I don't know what kind of favor Carpenter owed the studio, but he made this film. And my theory is that he made this film intentionally bad to say to the studio, "There, I made the stinking sequel you wanted, don't ask me to do it again!" I mean really, if he had wanted to make a sequel to Escape From New York, don't you think he would have struck while the iron was hot and made it at the height of the first film's success instead of waiting 15 years? Think about it. When I consider this scenario, I can watch Escape From L.A and have a good laugh thinking that John Carpenter may have played a big joke on the Hollywood studios. Really, there's no way Carpenter included that surfing scene with the intention of it being taken seriously. The film is just way too overblown, way too cheesy and obviously a carbon copy of the original to be anything other than a joke. Kurt may be older now, but he's actually still able to play Snake Plissken like it's 1980. The performance is great, it's just the film surrounding Kurt that's silly. Try watching it again and see what you think.
31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Sequels used to be about remaking the same film again and again (remember "Friday The 13th" or "Nightmare on Elm Street"?)with minor variations so the audience gets their fix. John Carpenter, Kurt Russell and Debra Hill inverted the paradigmn reprising the best elements from "Escape from New York" while introducing a heavy dose of satire aimed squarely at the Moral Majority and groups of that nature. While not as memorable as that film, "Escape from L. A." takes perfect aim at liberal Hollywood, the conservative religious right, sequels and skewers them all dead on most of the time.
Snake Plissken is back in trouble. Captured again he's put into the service of national security against his will. It seems a device that can detonate orbital nuclear devices has been stolen by the President's daughter and delivered into the hands of a self styled rebel leader named Cuervo Jones (George Corraface)in what's left of Southern California. Cuervo plans on using this device against the United States. Plissken is sent to the island of Los Angeles to retreive the device. Yes, folks the BIG ONE finally hit and a large part of the Los Angeles basin dropped into the ocean like a ten ton weight while the remainder floats off the coast of the United States making the perfect place to deport people who don't have high moral fiber or generally tick off the President for life (Cliff Robertson in a twisted performance). Infected by a deadly designer virus that makes Ebola seem like the flu, Snake has no choice but to take the job of retrieving. Malloy (Stacy Keach stepping in for the late Lee Van Cleef)and Brazen (the beautiful Michelle Forbes late of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", "Homicide: Life on the Streets" and the second season of "24")provide Snake with his only link to the outside world.
Along the way Snake meets surfers (Peter Fonda), the Surgeon General of Beverly Hills (Bruce Campbell in a hilarious role that truly is the highlight of the movie)in pursuit of the device. Oh and once again Snake has one of those huge digital watches attached to his wrist to remind him his days are numbered if he doesn't get the device back in time. Filled with great cameos by Steve Buscemi (as Map to the Stars Eddie), B-movie queen Pam Grier (as Hershe Las Palmas), Italian beauty Valerie Golino, the late Paul Bartel, Issac Hayes (in a cameo) and Robert Carradine "Escape from L.A." just might be Carpenter's most undervalued film (along with the great satire "They Live").
The weakest link in the film turns out to be the uneven visual effects done by Disney's Buena Vista Visual Effects. Some of the opticals look great particularly the scenes where Los Angeles gets hit by the 9.6 earthquake. The sequences involving the mini-sub and some of the helicopters look as if they were taken from computer games. While computer graphics were still developing at the time, I'm surprised that Disney's effects house wasn't able to come up with more convincing visuals for this sequence. Still, while they aren't what they could be they're not the focus of the story either and are a pretty minor problem. Many of the best effects work quite well. The production design by Lawrence G. Paull ("Blade Runner", "Back to the Future", "Predator 2")gives the film a much bigger look than the budget the film had (it cost roughly $50 million to make including the marketing portion of the budget). A bit of trivia about the film. Russell appears wearing the same costume he had for the first film at the beginning. Russell also made all the basketball shots seen in the climatic game himself.
Presented in its original widescreen format with a trailer as the only extra, this was released when Paramount was playing catch up in releasing product for the DVD market. The image quality is exceptionally good with great color reproduction and a nearly flawless print (particularly when compared to the remastered re-release of "Escape from New York")with a nice 5.1 sound mix.
It's too bad this hasn't been reissued with extras (such as a commentary from Carpenter and Russell and one or two featurettes. Heck, there's got to be a promo piece somewhere in Paramount's vault about this as I seem to remember one being released to promote it)because, while isn't quite up to "Escape from New York", "Escape from L.A." is still a memorable sequel with enough satire, parody and humor laced moments to keep fans of the original happy. Hopefully one of these days this minor Carpenter classic will get the re-evaluation it deserves.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2006
Okay, I'll admit it. John Carpenter's "Escape From L.A." is one of my absolute favorite guilty pleasures. Where else can you see Snake riding a tidal wave? Snake shooting hoops in order to save his life? Or even Snake kicking the entire world's butt?
In 2000, an earthquake seperated Los Angeles from the U.S. and California. Now those who decide not to follow the rules (No smoking, no drugs, no alcohol, no women - unless you're married - no foul language, no red meat!) are sent there, and are not allowed to return to the U.S. In 2013, the president's daughter Utopia has stolen the doomsday device, and has fled to L.A. It's up to ex-special forces war hero Snake Plissken to recover the doomsday device, as well as the president's daughter within nine hours, or the virus he has been injected with will kill him.
The R1 DVD from Paramount features an excellent transfer of the film, but unfortunately, it's non-anamorphic. The film is presented in it's original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio. The DVD also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, as well as a Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack. The only bonus feature on the disc is the theatrical trailer. It'd be nice if Paramount gave us a special edition for EFLA, containing a commentary with John Carpenter and Kurt Russell, as well as the HBO making of featurette, and deleted or extended scenes, if any.
In the end: Escape From L.A. is a minor classic that should not be missed by fans of John Carpenter, Kurt Russell, or fans of "Escape From New York".
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2007
They sure don't make 'em like this anymore -- that much can be said for this balls-to-the-wall, over-the-top sequel to John Carpenter's classic "Escape From New York." In "Escape From L.A.," the audience is reunited with loveable Snake Plissken, the eye-patch sporting, leather-clad war-hero made famous by Kurt Russell. Russell, together with Carpenter and his long-time collaborater, Debra Hill, wrote the script, so you can bet that not only is it a labor of love for all involved in the making of the movie, but also a fitting companion-piece to the original. If you haven't seen the original, don't fear. Like any good action sequel, this one does it's audience the favor of existing as a stand-alone feature as well.
The year is 2013. The constitution has been rewritten and the president is serving his life-long term. Red meat, along with other simple pleasures such as premarital sex, alcohol and any sort of fun has been outlawed. Those who can't comply or conform with this ultra-conservative new vision of The United States are banished to Los Angeles. Doesn't sound so bad, but unfortunately and conveniently, L.A. has been isolated from the country by a devastating earthquake and transformed into a prison camp, full of the dirtiest and uncivilized criminals and low-lifes. Universal Studios has been banished to the depths of the Pacific Ocean, and you can bet this ain't the happiest place on Earth. After being captured by the government and injected with a deadly virus for motivational purposes, Snake is dispatched to this wasteland to retreive a doomsday device, hijacked by the president's daughter, which has the power to revert Earth back to the dark ages. As our hero wades through the sewers, surfs tsunamis and plays a deadly game of basketball, he encounters some colorful characters along the way, played by the likes of Steve Buscemi, Bruce Campbell, Peter Fonda and Pam Grier. If you think these characters are bold and outlandish, just get a load of the action, which takes many liberties with the human imagination and stands out from much of the disposable fluff of it's time ("Independence Day," for one).
Since this is a John Carpenter film, you know two things: First, the music is going to be good. Composed by Carpenter himself, it's yet another classic score. Second, the movie looks gorgeous. There may be some dodgy special effects here and there, but for 1996, this is a pretty tight looking feature. It's far from a perfect film, but at the very least, it's an example of the best escapism movies have to offer. Kurt Russell is brilliant and doesn't miss a mark as Snake, and Carpenter's vision is that of confidence and bold imagination. Those who appreciate a good action flick that checks your brain at the door will find salvation in "Escape From L.A."
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
"The United States is a no-smoking nation," announces Stacy Keach in John Carpenter's Escape From L.A., revealing what it will be like to live in right-wing America, circa 2013: "No smoking, no drinking, no drugs, no guns, no foul language, no red meat." And, on the basis of what we see here, no decent movies. In the crowded field of "Who Asked For This Anyway?" sequels, those so-awful-they're-funny follow-ups to hit flicks, like Texasville, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, King Kong Lives and The Evening Star, Escape From L.A. stands tall as a shining beacon of Bad Moviedom. Time has not been kind to Snake, Kurt Russell's ultramanly Escape From New York antihero, conceived over 15 years ago in tribute to Clint Eastwood's sandpapery spaghetti Western loner. Today, decked out in long hair and an all-black skintight wardrobe with matching eye patch, mondo-butch Russell conjures up not Eastwood but his own Captain Ron--after one too many drinks at a West Hollywood leather bar.
Ordered by president Cliff Robertson onto the maximum-security prison island of Los Angeles to retrieve a doomsday machine in less than 10 hours or die, Russell sneers, "You'd better hope I don't make it back" (which is exactly what we were thinking on the way out of Escape From New York). He then sets off to track down evil terrorist George Corraface in the post-apocalyptic ruins of L.A. Captured briefly by baddies inside the Beverly Hills Hotel, now a plastic surgery house of horrors full of "surgical failures" whose implants and face-lifts have all "turned to Jell-O," Russell realizes that L.A. has become an island of the damned. But Valerie Golino, the tough cookie he has teamed up with, sees it differently: for her, L.A. is "the only free zone left, where a girl can still wear a fur coat if she wants to." It's an idea she's promptly shot dead for by a sniper--presumably a 21st century PETA activist.
You know you're watching a cheeseball classic when Russell glances down at his Special Countdown Watch to see that he has only seven more hours left to complete his mission and then, several minutes later, Stacy Keach informs Russell by walkie-talkie that he has only seven and a half hours left.
Things go seriously awry for Russell when he hitches a ride with Steve Buscemi, overacting as usual, this time as a Pee-wee Hermanesque slimeball who does dirty work for the highest bidder. Buscemi hits Russell with a poisonous dart gun and what happens next is so shocking that out-of-shape couch potatoes should stop reading right this second because it's their worst nightmare: Russell wakes up to find he's been shackled to a treadmill and is being aerobicized to death. When he mysteriously survives that ordeal, the villainous Corraface has him taken to a coliseum where he's forced to play a solo game of basketball in which he must score consecutive baskets or be machine-gunned down (an idea we think the NBA should take a look at). As luck would have it, Russell (who cowrote the script, mind you) plays basketball like no white guy you've ever seen.
Russell escapes his theoretically deadly workouts only to be shot in the leg by Buscemi. Just then, a tidal wave happens by and friendly stoner Peter Fonda teaches the bleeding Russell how to surf a tsunami. As Fonda puts it, "Bitchin'!" When Buscemi drives away in an open convertible, Russell actually rides the gigantic wave directly into the villain's front seat. Together they search down Russell's onetime male partner-in-crime, now a transsexual party doll living aboard the Queen Mary, played by Pam Grier (who must have quite a mortgage to feed to have taken this role). Not believing that his bud's now a she, Russell runs his hand up, up, up Grier's innermost thigh and pulls out--no! yes!--a loaded revolver (discuss meaning amongst yourselves).
There is, as they say, much more: the cast flying on hang gliders over a bankrupt faux-Disneyland (in the film's only good line, Buscemi explains, "That thing in Paris killed them"); a climactic shootout featuring animated gunfire even toddlers would snort at on a Saturday morning cartoon show; Corraface biting deeply into Russell's bloody wound (yum). It all ends, as you'd hoped, with Russell peevishly using the doomsday weapon to shut down every source of energy on the entire Earth. We're told that all the technology of the past is lost forever. Including, we hope, any machine capable of projecting a surviving print of this movie.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2008
Snake: Got a smoke? Malloy: America is a no smoking nation, no smoking, no drinking, no foul language, no sex unless your married, no red meat. Snake: Land of the free.
There's not much new about Escape From LA, compared to its predecessor. It's pretty much the same story, set in a different place, and Kurt Russell once more in a race against the clock, in order to rescue a black box from the president's daughter.
This time, 2013, the prison is LA, after being separated from mainland by major earthquakes, and still suffering from the aftershocks. The president's daughter hijacks Air Force 3, and crash lands in LA, away from the restraints of daddy, and free to do what she wants. Which is get in with the wrong crowd and not wear very much. Of course, Snake is back and instantly recognisable to everyone, after his escapades in New York, and he has to be the one to go into LA.
Of course, there are a few similarities to the first movie: he gets a time limit on his life to get the mission done, the vehicle that he uses to get to the island is destroyed, the girl he briefly meets is killed, and he has to play a game to survive. Sure there's nothing new, but Kurt manages to pull it off.
The supporting cast, alongside Kurt, is excellent. Steve Buscemi, playing his usual eccentric character, Pam Grier, Michelle Forbes (who I knew from Kalifornia), Valeria Golino, and a shockingly different Bruce Campbell, were all excellent. Bruce Campbell I luckily managed to spot - he's not recognisable, a lot of prosthetics, but the chin is impossible to disguise!
Why was there never a third movie made? After the ending Escape From LA was given? Hell yeah, there should have been another movie made. Escape From Earth has been batted around for many years since this was made, but it's never been made up until ... soon hopefully. With Stallone coming back for Rocky & Rambo, and Ford coming back for another Indiana Jones, why not revisit this once more? The finale just left too many things hanging. It's a necessity. Hey, I think Kurt could still fit into that outfit. And get the hair long again. Easy. Do IT!!!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2000
John Carpenter used to be my favorite director. The very mention of Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York or even The Fog and Memoirs of an Invisible Man would send chills up my spine. Even when he would stumble a bit (Prince of Darkness, In the Mouth of Madness, They Live), it was still a little entertaining...until his latest losing streak involving Village of the Damned, Vampires, and this awful mess. Don't cut corners out of respect for him, this movie was an insult to the original. I wish Hollywood would declare a moratorium on lousy computer generated effects. The original was very cheap and understated, but here some of the scenes moved so badly, or a character was so poorly written, I had to avert my eyes. I saw the ending coming a mile away. I was so disappointed in this, and so should any Carpenter fan.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
15 years after crafting the low budget comic cult classic Escape From New York, director John Carpenter finally got the budget he needed in this sequel/reworking of the original film. Kurt Russell reprises his role as one eyed badass Snake Plisskin as he is dropped into the island of Los Angeles to seek out the president's daughter. Parts of the film seem more aimed to make a social satire of our dwindling freedom, but sometimes the action gets too incoherent and parts of the film seem uneven. Not to mention that there are times when the film feels rushed, like Carpenter just wanted to get the film over with. Either way though, Escape From L.A. is still a fun B-movie ride with a great comic flair, and the great supporting cast which includes Steve Buscemi, Pam Grier, Peter Fonda, Stacy Keach, Cliff Robertson, and B-movie icon Bruce "Evil Dead" Campbell make this one of Carpenter's more decent films of late.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2005
Escape from L.A. is a movie that may gain more in popularity as time goes by. Made a decade ago (before George W Bush even ran for President)it can NOW be seen as a sharp criticism of the culture war going on in America right now (making it some kind of prophetic political joke). The culture wars between the religious right and politically correct left were not so pronounced as it is now. John Carpenter, Debra Hill, and Kurt Russell targeted lots of groups with the humor (including militant vegetarians and superficial Hollywood, but the religious right and their political ambitions get the most abuse). Originally, the ultra-religious President (played by Cliff Robertson) seemed like an over-the-top caracature. But now, you can't help but see his similarity to George W. Bush (How much is exaggerated is in the eye of the beholder).
On another level this movie provides good B-movie action and entertainment. By now we all know Russell (as Snake) is like a Clint Eastwood cowboy forced into service, invading an urban wasteland to save civilization (only civilization looks well beyond saving). Snake plays by his own rules and his loyalty is only as dependable as the leash they keep him on. The second he is released the simplest act totally knocks the power elite off the throne.
It is, of course, the same formula as the first film (Escape from New York) and perhaps fans of the original sell this sequel short because of that. Bottom line: This one has a better sense of the absurd and has more biting humor, with just as much action. I prefer it to the first.
Adendum: (11/17/05) Since writing this review I have watched part of the original Escape From New York again and I can see why many fans prefer it. If you want a more serious story with a creepy urban atmosphere, then you'll definately prefer the original. But I still really like this follow-up.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2011
Viewed: 10/03, 7/06, 6/11
7/06: Fifteen years later, Snake Plissken is back...badder than ever! Louder and bigger than ever, Escape from L.A. is a good fun that actually looks better than the original with few minor problems. Kurt Russell, again, gives another great performance. John Carpenter is able to blend the Hollywood feel into this sci-fic classic to look more attuned to the standards of today's audience while making Snake Plissken the bastion of old values and traditions. What's fascinating about the film is the Orwellian atmosphere that rings true to this day. Meanwhile, some of the film's minor problems are as follows: the horrible acting by Pam Grier, some cheesy special effects, and the lack of momentum about three-quarters of the way. But, it actually picks it up with a strong finish that is very characteristic of Snake Plissken. All in all, with no disrespect to the sequel, Escape from New York remains the better picture.
6/11: Call me...Snake, Plissken says. Call me...Plissken, Snake says. Does it really matter? Hell, yes. Escape from L.A. is a fun sequel to watch that is sadly wrecked by the bad, cheesy CGI special effects. Had they be removed, the movie can be a lot better to watch. The story milks all out of the original premise for what it's worth which is another disappointment. At least, Kurt Russell is a must-see for playing an all-time badass Snake Plissken. That alone is worth the price of admission. In fact, I saw the film in 1996 at the theatre. So, yeah...that was a good time. The best part of Escape from L.A. is easily the ending. Even more impressive is the basketball scene because Kurt actually made all of these shots including that full court shot. Another favorite of mine is when Snake challenges four idiots by Bangkok rules. Every time the city Cleveland is mentioned, it just makes me yearn to see that film which obviously could have been titled as--drum roll, please--Escape from Cleveland. All in all, yeah...let's just be fair and declare Escape from L.A. a ripoff remake of the original, but at least, it has plenty of can't-miss Snake moments.