117 of 130 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2004
Hailed as a cult classic by many, John Carpenter's "Escape from New York" is finally available in a more-than-appropriate DVD edition that does the film justice. A dark movie filled with danger, action, suspense, and even humor, this is the classic that gave birth to the ultimate outlaw and anti-hero; Snake Plissken. Now, you can relive the movie like never before.
In a post-apocalyptic world filled with crime and violence, the entire city of Manhattan has been transformed into a prison--a death sentence to most. Here, the prisoners are sent once they are banned from society and are forced to stay a life sentence to fight on their own. A crisis is before the people who are in charge of the prison, as the President has been kidnapped and is being held hostage by the very people they dedicated their lives to lock up. The only chance they have is a former war hero turned outlaw, Snake Plissken. They make him a deal that if he can bring back the President alive, all of the charges against him will be dropped. However, there's yet another catch; the main man in charge of the prison has injected Plissken with an explosive device that will be the end of him in less than 24 hours should he not be successful, insuring that he won't "flee" the scene. All of this leads to an exciting and thrilling cult classic that is loved by many.
John Carpenter has done a terrific job of painting a dark and bleak picture of law enforcement as we know it. At the same time, he does an excellent job of creating a successful and subtle satire of law and authority. The script is always clever and surprising. While the movie might be a little dated, it still does not take away anything from the raw effect the movie has on us. Kurt Russell is fantastic as the mono-toned "Snake Plissken." He makes the role his own and stands out as one of our favorite anti-heroes in film. All of the right ingredients to make a successful and exciting film are there.
This new DVD edition is a lot better than the previous one. The picture has been remastered in high-definition, which truly stands out as an accomplishment. The sound is decent, but we must keep in mind that this is an old movie and the sound can only be restored so much. Extras included are commentaries, photo galleries, an exclusive comic book, featurettes, trailers, the deleted scene of the original opening; the bank robbery, and more. I can tell you for sure that I am much more pleased with this edition of the film.
"Escape from New York" is definitely one of those films that stands out from the rest. It is a cult classic for a reason, and that reason is undeniable. While it may be overlooked by some, the ones who really appreciate it for what it is benefits a great amount of deal from it. If you're looking for an exciting thrill ride with action, suspense, and humor, this is the one to check out. A superb film on every front.
57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2004
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Back in 1981, John Carpenter released a film, set in 1997, that depicted a somewhat bleak future for the United States in that the crime rate had risen to the point where it was necessary to turn New York City into a maximum security prison by enclosing the island in giant, concrete walls, installing landmines on the access bridges, and providing constant surveillance with the threat of death for any that try to escape. Felons convicted and sent to this prison are given the option of execution rather than being forced to try and survive in this hellish, nightmare environment. Truly only the strongest and most ruthless survive behind these walls. The female narration, done by Carpenter favorite Jamie Lee Curtis, at the beginning ends with the ominous line, "Once you go in, you never come out."
After this is set up, we learn that, while en route to an extremely important conference, the president's plane has been hijacked, and is crashed inside the prison. The inmates recover the president, and threatening to kill him if any attempt is made to release him. A plan is formulated, one including the recently captured, ex-military, now convicted, criminal Snake Plisskin (Kurt Russell) to send him in, alone, and try to bring the president out alive, offering him a full pardon should he succeed. Only problem is, due to time constraints, of the conference, Snake only has 24 hours to complete this mission, if he accepts it. Another minor glitch...without his knowing it, microscopic implants are inserted into Snake's neck in case he decided to skip out, and are set to go off unless Snake can recover the president and return him safely within the time allotted.
This has always been one of my favorite movies. It brings to life the perfect anti-hero, the outlaw. We've seen and loved this type of character before, like in the Clint Eastwood western movies of the 60's. America loves an outlaw, and John Carpenter has brought the character into the future. Escape From New York is an excellent example of a low budget movie that is really well made, from the realistic sets and scenery, characters, casting, scripting, direction, and music, all of which was composed by John Carpenter himself. Kurt Russell plays Snake so perfectly that you'll never picture anyone else in the role. Other actors that provide wonderful performances, many of which Carpenter uses in his later films, are Harry Dean Stanton, Donald Pleasance, Adrienne Barbeau, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Van Cleef, and Tom Atkins. And let's not forget Isaac Hayes as The Duke of New York, leader of the most powerful gang within the prison, and the one holding the president in hopes of using him to escape. Another thing is that this movie moves. There is no plodding, the plot is clearly defined and drives the movie to its' satisfying conclusion.
The special features included in this special edition DVD are many, and listed thoroughly on the product page. Included is the eleven-minute sequence involving Snake, a bank robbery, and subsequent capture that led him to be sentenced to the prison. This was only available before on the laserdisc version, so I am really glad it made it here. After watching it and listening to the commentary, you'll understand why it was cut from the movie, but the gist is that it humanized the character of Snake too much. Also included from the laserdisc version is a full-length commentary by John Carpenter and Kurt Russell. Many commentaries I watch tend to be dry and boring, but it was wonderful listening to these two talk about scenes and reminisce. They go into great detail, all while keeping it interesting. Some of the other extras are nice, but probably not for everyone, like the mini comic book and the additional commentary by producer Deborah Hill and production designer Joe Alves. It's a bit dry and boring, and probably only would appeal to the more hardcore fans. And last but not least is the quality of the picture. It looks beautiful and crisp, better than I have ever seen it. All in all, this release is truly befitting of the title 'Special Edition'. This movie was followed up in 1996 by a somewhat disappointing sequel called Escape From LA. The elements were pretty much there for that one, but the gritty edginess that made Escape From New York so wonderful just wasn't. Maybe too much time had passed between the movies.
143 of 168 people found the following review helpful
The film itself is three and a half stars (out of five): yet another entertaining "B" thriller from cult film director John Carpenter, this sci-fi/action romp is lots of fun in every sense of the word: great characters populated by a great cast, led by Russel's iconic take on "Snake Plissken", the love child of Clint Eastwood and Jim Morrison; a delicious, cheese-tastic premise that maintains a sense of humor while playing it serious (unlike its lesser, overly-campy sequel); production values that sporadically waver between solid and chintzy, somehow only adding to the film's gritty, dark (and fun) comic book-like tone; and a classic (albeit corny) John Carpenter synth score.
As a point of acknowledgment, I'm a big John Carpenter fan... but if truth be told, while Carpenter is terrific with atmosphere and suspense, he is somewhat challenged when it comes to shooting action sequences. That point is underscored once again with this film, as the action sequences are fairly unmemorable; fortunately, the film's creepily weird atmosphere and colorful characters more than make up for it.
While the film ultimately does not live up to its potential, it has more than enough attributes to cement its place as a minor genre classic. This is not Carpenter's best work by a long shot (for my money, "Halloween" and "The Thing" are tied for that honor); nevertheless, this is still a must-see for those who dig the 1970's-early 1980's era of "B" movie sci-fi/action flicks.
Now, on to the Blu-Ray review: the 1080P widescreen picture quality of this Blu-Ray is a decent step-up from the special edition DVD released a few years back. Released in the correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (Amazon incorrectly listed this release at 1.85:1), colors are punchier, contrast is good, sharpness is increased, and grain is at a minimum for a picture this age. Blacks are solid, if a little grayish at times. Thankfully, the original look of the film is preserved, meaning the green hue of some previous home video releases is gone. Also, there are no obvious signs of edge enhancement or DNR manipulation... always a good thing. However, all's not perfect; the film's original cinematography alternates inconsistently between being soft, hazy and reasonably sharp. That fact, coupled with the film's inherently dark and murky look (the film was shot almost entirely at night on a fairly low budget) means that this film is hardly Blu-Ray demo material. That being said, fans should be pleased, as this is the best the film has ever looked on home video (and that includes the green-hued Optimum U.K./Canadian Blu-Ray release from a few years back, which was so artificially touched-up, it barely looked like the same film that was released in 1981).
The audio quality is also a decent step-up from earlier DVD iterations. The 5.1 DTS-HD soundtrack makes use of surround sound for much of the picture, with good bass and nice aural ambience. However, dialogue from the center speaker was mixed a tad too low at times, making it necessary to raise the volume on occasion; fortunately, it was not enough to ruin the overall aural experience. To sum up, while hardly demo-quality (this is a 30-year-old film, after all), unquestionably this is the best the film has ever sounded on home video.
As for the rest: MGM continues its desperate attempt to stay afloat and raise cash... at the expense of both the good will of its customer base and the reputation of future releases of its formidable library of catalog titles. As is the case with its recent release of "Kalifornia", the quality of this release reeks of cheapness in every sense of the word. Absolutely no special features come with this Blu-Ray, unless you count the film trailer and the DVD copy of the film that is included with this set... and unlike earlier MGM Blu-Ray/DVD combo releases, where the included DVD had special features the Blu-Ray lacked ("Misery" and "Bull Durham" come to mind), the included DVD on this set has zero special features; this means that all of the special features from the fine 2003 special edition two-disc DVD set are nowhere to be found on this release.
The included DVD is in fact a flipper, which has an anamorphically-enhanced widescreen version of the film on one side of the disc and a fullscreen copy on the other. Really? Is "fullscreen" considered a bonus feature in 2010? Since MGM included a flipper DVD disc, why not have offered the two-disc special feature edition as a flipper?
Also, a careful comparison on my part found that the quality of the included DVD is of lesser quality than the 2003 special edition DVD, with colors and sharpness looking duller. From what I can tell, the included DVD is the same as the inferior 2000 DVD release with one puzzling difference: the audio on the 2000 DVD was in 4.0 Dolby Surround, and this included DVD has a 5.1 Dolby Digital track! It seems that MGM did put some effort into this combo release after all... just in the wrong places.
Even the case that houses the Blu-Ray is a disappointment, as MGM didn't even bother to package it in the standard small Blu-Ray case, but rather opted to release the combo set in a larger-sized standard DVD case. This may seem like nitpicking to some, but I, with my large video library, appreciate the smaller size of the Blu-Ray case.
<<< UPDATE: Confusingly (and annoyingly), I have just noticed that there are TWO Blu-Ray listings on Amazon.com for "Escape from New York", one that offers "Blu-ray/DVD Combo w/ Blu-ray Packaging" and one that offers "Blu-ray/DVD Combo w/ DVD Packaging"; from what I can tell, the Blu-Ray packaging is an Amazon.com exclusive, so for those who care, snap it up while you can >>>.
So, it boils down to this: for casual viewers and those on a budget, if you already own the 2003 special edition DVD of "Escape From New York", this Blu-Ray upgrade is probably not worth your time, as the picture quality on that DVD looks very good upconverted, and the special features on that two-disc set really make the 2003 special edition DVD the one to own. For fans and/or videophiles who don't particularly care about special features, the visual and audio uptick is good enough to warrant a purchase, albeit at a discounted price. Of course, true fans will be forced to pick up (or hang on to) the 2003 special edition DVD with its terrific set of special features, including: a mini-graphic novel, two fine audio commentary tracks, a making-of doc, and (perhaps most intriguing) the original opening for the film (complete with restored audio), which consists of an eleven-minute bank robbery sequence that explains how Snake Plissken got caught (by the man!) in the first place.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2012
I'm sick and tired of Amazon lumping DVD reviews together with Bluray reviews. This gets really annoying when I'm trying to learn about improvements made for a Bluray release. And now we have 2 different Bluray options for this movie, Escape From New York. One is a combo pack from MGM and is $15 and change and the other is from Canalstudio, priced about $10 higher. What am I supposed to do? Which one looks better? Which one has the correct aspect ratio? Amazon (I have read) has the wrong aspect ratio listed on one of these releases making this problem even worse! Which one has more bonus features? Does either of these releases have the deleted scene included in the deluxe 2 disc DVD? ARE YOU LISTENING AMAZON? I know someone has to check this review for curse words, unless they have an automated system doing that.
Also, how about listing the bonus features for every movie? All you have to do is read the back of the cover and enter the information.
Amazon is still my favorite place to shop. They have the biggest selection, and with Amazon Prime I get free 2 day shipping. But the problems I have mentioned is really making my life difficult.
Oh and by the way, my 5 star rating is for this movie. It is one of my all-time favorites, in any format. As far as which edition you should buy, well, good luck. Amazon has left it to be a guessing game.
45 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2000
Ok. So I'm a HUGE fan of Escape from New York. Obviously that's going to make me a little demanding of any treatment of the film. Just from examining the packaging, though, you can tell this DVD release doesn't do the film justice. Here's how:
1. The only 'extras' on this DVD are the theatrical trailer. Well, the recent VHS release of the movie has a complete documentary on it along with footage that was edited out of the original film. This footage does the setup for Snake Pliskin getting sent to prison. Why wasn't this on the DVD? Probably because it's being saved for a future 'collector's edition' DVD. Any fan who bought this will have to then buy a copy of the good one.
2. The cover illustration depicts Pliskin with a snake tattoo on his arm. He has a snake tattoo on his stomach, not on his arm. If you flip the box over, there's even a photo from the movie where you can see he doesn't have a tattoo on his right arm.
3. In the synopsis on the back, the text says "Kurt Russell (Stargate) plays ...." Whoah! If you're going to make a parenthetical reference describing Kurt Russell by a movie he's been in, THIS IS THE MOVIE to use. Not Stargate. I'm not bashing Stargate, but I bet Escape from New York is Kurt Russell's best-selling movie on DVD. Having seen it in the theater, I instantly became a Kurt Russell fan. When he came out with The Thing, Stargate, and Soldier, it was Snake Pliskin that made me want to see those movies.
Ok. So I've been ranting. The last comment I have to make is that if you're sick of buying DVD's that later get trumped by the 'collector's edition' being released, then don't buy this. Hold out for the inevitable 'Special Edition' of Escape from New York.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2010
Well, I say Blu-ray "transfer" rather than Blu-ray "master" because I do not believe this is a high-definition master. The picture quality is atrocious, with cheap edge enhancement applied to the image in order to try to achieve a sharper image without paying for a proper HD master. Some SD masters look fine when upscaled on a good TV, but this supposed HD image actually looks vastly inferior to decent DVDs. If you like/love this film, as I do, then stick to your DVD of it. If you don't have it, either get the DVD or wait until the Blu-ray is reissued in a newer edition. To call this high definition is an insult to the format and even more so to viewers like us whom the manufacturers seem to believe will buy anything they sell. I love this film and believe it deserves a lot more respect and special features like deleted scenes. Save your money. This review is concerning the British blu ray that came out Aug of 2008. Haven't seen the quality of the US release coming out Aug 3 2010.
Received the new version 8-7-210. First the good news. The picture quality has been greatly improved. Almost too much. Watching the new edition it was clear that the Air Force One shot was a plastic model. The sound track blows the speakers out and is beautiful. If all you want is the movie, this will make you happy. Now the bad news. It has none, absolutely nada, special features besides the movie trailer. For $19 I would rather they gave the special features and threw away the DVD edition of the film, which I didn't need anyway. So if you have one of the DVD editions with the special features you can order this blu ray for the picture quality upgrade, throw away the included DVD and replace it with your older one with the special features. As for me, this is the last time I'm buying this movie. I'm still disappointed, but not as much.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
This is my 2nd favorite John Carpenter movie (Starman is my 1st). One thing you should know is that at the time, Kurt Russell was not a bankable star. In fact he wasn't even an action hero yet, having still come off the cheesy Disney movies he did earlier in his career. Carpenter, who previously had cast Russell in the made for TV movie, Elvis, found Kurt such a delight to work with that he wanted him for this film (and then, right after that, The Thing) but studio executives weren't so sure. Finally, thankfully, they gave in and he got the part. They say that certain actors have their one director that's their own and vice versa. Kurt Russell and John Carpenter have this type of working relationship, collaborating 5 times (Elvis, Escape From New York, The Thing, Big Trouble In Little China, Escape From L.A.) and in my opinion, this film is the best of that collaboration. Set in the distant future (even though actually we've already come to and passed the specific dates (1988-1997) so just think of it as an alternate reality or a "What If?", if you will), 'Escape begins with the crash landing of Air Force One into New York City, which is now a prison ("Once you go in you don't come out.") following the introduction of Snake Plissken, who we would have met earlier in a scene that was later deleted of him and his partner robbing a bank and attempting to escape in a subway car, resulting in Snake's partner being killed and himself being captured. Enter Lee Van Cleef, the man in charge of rescuing the President Of The United States (played by Donald Pleasence). What's nice about Lee and Kurt is that you almost feel like you're watching the classic spaghetti western, For A Few Dollars More, since Kurt is emulating Clint Eastwood in this character, something that even Mr. Carpenter himself has admitted to saying. The basic story is Snake must go into New York and save the President as well as recover a cassette tape that has vital information on it (today it would have been on a small CD which does make this film feel dated, but who cares) because if he doesn't, the poisonous capsules that were injected into his neck will soon desolve and kill him instantly. You can't make Snake do anything he doesn't want to do. You have to force him. The character, Snake Plissken has been said to be a person who doesn't really care about anyone or anything except himself. I would have to disagree with that statement because Snake does, in his own way, admire courage, probably because he sees so very little of it around him. Along the way he meets up with some very bizarre characters, including Cabbie (Ernest Borgnine), the easy going NYC cab driver, The Brain (Harry Dean Stanton), a man from Snake's past who deserted him years before during a job that went sour, Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau), Brain's attractive and loyal companion, and Isaac Hayes as The Duke Of New York ("You're A#1") who is out to use the President as a bargaining chip to win his freedom. I will admit that some viewers might be a little bored if they grew up watching 90's action films and like the pace quicker. This film takes its time but only to set the mood and bring you into it. That's a plus for me. The music (see my review for the newly remastered edition) adds another dimension to the film, with Carpenter composing and conducting it himself (in association with Alan Howarth), setting the mood with lovely synthesizer sounds and compositions. This film works because unlike it's sequel (see my review for Escape From L.A.) this film has depth to it that makes you care about the characters, whereas in the 2nd film, you really could care less what happens to them. Donald Pleasence's machine gun frenzy at the very end should also not be missed. Let's just hope MGM releases the Widescreen (2:35'1) DVD soon and include the extras that were on the New Line Home Video Laserdisc (Featurette, Theatrical Trailer, Audio Commentary with Kurt Russell and John Carpenter) and anything else they can come up with (the complete Deleted Scene of the Atlanta Bank Robbery and Isolated Score would sure be nice). Escape From New York: a film not to be missed. ("Call me Snake.")
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Escape From New York is by far Carpenter's best film. It's uniquely original plot involves a convicted felon, Kurt Russell, who sent into New York City, the nation's maximum security prison, to rescue the president. Of course the film has it's flaws (although minor), but it is a very fun, and action packed movie. Any fan of action films should make it a priority to see this film. The film did spawn a poor sequel, but true fans should stick to the original. Overall a dark, gritty, action packed glimpse into the future of mankind, with a fantastic ending that is the trademark of all Carpenter films. It also features a wonderful soundtrack, probably his best since Halloween. Do yourself a favor, and be sure to see this movie! Truly a one of a kind film that should not be missed by anyone!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2000
This film is the main reason I bought a DVD player in the first place. It ranks up in my huge collection of movies as one of my favourites because of It's timeless appeal, pulse pounding action, beautiful cinematoraphy (courtesy of Dean Cundey), toe clasping suspense, and that Snake is just so fuckin cool. I heard MGM is goin light on the supplements, so all I gotta say is that in my book, that's a crime and you guys need a blunt object bashed into the side of your head by a eyepatch wearing snake tatooed avenger, because no one wrongs Snake and lives a happy life. So as for the movie, I respect it with every fiber of my being, and Carpenter has ended up consuming at least half of my all time favourite films top ten list. So go do yourself a favor and watch this movie, show it too your children, show it to your friends 'cause this is where it's at when you love badass gun totin anti heroes that bleed fools for a living!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2015
Throughout time, cinema has produced some of the greatest anti-heroes ever to exist in popular culture. Clint Eastwood as the Man With No Name, Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle, Bruce Willis as John McClain and many, many more. However, there may not be a more b a d a s s character on the face of this planet, like Snake Plissken. There really isn't a more accurate way to describe him.
Back in the days when movies focused more on strong protagonists who would shoot first and ask questions later, Kurt Russell and John Carpenter brought a character to life with borderline satirical implications, who would end up becoming one of the greatest anti-heroes in all of cinema. So as the stage has been set, the film essentially revolves around this excellent character, but there are several other key elements that brought this film it's cult status.
John Carpenter's career was getting ready to explode after the wild success of Halloween and the follow up of another horror addition with The Fog. At this point Carpenter's music was almost as influential as his filmmaking (film fan or not everyone knows the theme from Halloween). Carpenter's use of the popular 1980's Prophet V synthesizer (also used in The Terminator) and relatively basic but powerful chord progressions made his themes perfectly fitting.
John is one of the very few filmmakers that has been able to bill his films with ownership, using his name in front of the title, such as "John Carpenter's Escape From New York". So when you see the titles in his original films they are all in the same font with the same titling, all of which is usually followed by John's signature synthesizer music.
Another thing Carpenter did in this movie very well was put together a great ensemble cast. In what movie could you have Kurt Russell, Ernest Borgnine, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau AND Isaac Hayes? And each actor played their parts to perfection!
It's a bit of a shock for me to see EFNY have a lower rating than Big Trouble on Amazon when I think this is the better film with a better plot and better characters. So many films reach 'cult' status these days in one way or another, but this was one of the original cult films. It didn't need any time to age, it was just an instant cult hit.