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on December 14, 2016
kick *** fun. The key to this film is that it doesn't take itself seriously. Snake Pissken is a 21st century cowboy tearing it up in an apocalyptic L.A. The theme of the story (anti-political correctness and a return to real freedom) is more pertinent than ever. The special effects may be dated, but this film is actually much better than many recent action movies that take themselves way too seriously and deliver the same old hash. This is a gem of an action film, if you just want some fun
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on January 1, 2017
First of all, I cannot comprehend 1-2-3 STAR RATINGS [35%] for this movie. This film was from a Master Director / Producer. No one else could have played the main character of "SNAKE PLISSKEN". The part was written for KURT RUSSELL. Now, I can respect the review by Collector 4 Life [3 STARS; JANUARY 28, 2015]. I does have merit and a sense of intelligence...BRAVO!!! If you are a fan of Kurt Russell, as well as several good supporting actors, and Escape from New York [still my favorite]...grab yourself a six pack of your favorite beer, wings, pizza, and a few friends in the man cave to enjoy a good flick on a friday night.
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on January 24, 2011
The year is 2013: and a 9.6 earthquake has destroyed Los Angeles, separating it from the continent, and the President has turned the newly formed, and ruined, island into a prison camp. However, the United States has itself become a 'prison camp' of sorts; with the United States Police Force having been formed, after disturbances and violence break out in various places on the mainland. So, after having disappeared for several years, Robert "Snake" Plissken is back. Yes, there was Kansas City, there was Cleveland with Car-Jack Malone and "Texas" Mike O'Shea; and there was of course his unforgetable escape from New York. But now, after finding himself captured again by the Government, renegade hero and former Special Forces operative Bob Plissken is faced with a difficult choice: die in prison, or go into L.A. and retrieve a special high-tech device that had been stolen from the President's company.

This is wonderful (young) adult fantasy adventure/escapist fare. Directed, and partly written, by Stanford grad John Carpenter (Dark Star, The Thing, They Live) this intelligent movie is actually largely satire, poking fun at everything from the President, to Hollywood, the medical profession, governmental authority... and even action movies themselves! Kurt Russell, reprising his role as Snake Plissken, is, as usual, excellent; and this movie is better than the first; outrageous as it is entertaining, it also provides, as cult movies often do, a sardonic commentary on modern society and beliefs. So I heartily recommend this, as Kurt Russell is faced with life and death issues in the noir 21st century. And to borrow from Roger Ebert: this is an apocalyptic, go-for-broke action extravaganza, not to be missed!
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on January 31, 2017
Just suspend your common sense and go with the plot of the movie, it's a quirky little movie from the 90's that doesn't make a lot of sense but it is entertaining as hell.
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on July 17, 2003
I loved Escape From New York, so I really looked forward to this movie when it came out in theaters in 1996. As much as I wanted to like it, it was really difficult. The movie starts off with a history lesson, telling us there was a big earthquake and how LA separated from the mainland. We also learn that the island of LA has now become a place where America dumps all it's undesirables, based on highly restrictive laws implemented by the ruling, ultra right wing political regime.
The setup is the president's daughter, Utopia, played by A.J. Langer, has befriended the leader of the biggest gang on LA island, and has she has stolen a device that would allow someone to utilize satellites in orbit to activate a sort of electro magnetic pulse that would wipe out all electronic devices in an area essentially throwing that area back into the stone age. Snake has recently been captured for whatever crimes he has since committed, and is given the option of going in, retrieving the device and his record will be wiped clean. I say he is given the option of going in, but he's infected with a sort of neurotoxin, and has no choice but to go on the mission, so he gears up and goes off to retrieve said device. He encounters different individuals and groups, and eventually meets up with the head of the largest and most powerful gang named Cuervo Jones. He's taken prisoner and made do to do some rather silly things. In the first movie, he has to fight a death match with a big bruiser, while in this movie he's forced to play a full court basketball shoot out, and if he misses, he gets shot. The rest of the movie is a little on the goofy side, but kind of fun to watch.
I was disappointed in this movie because, while it pretty much followed the same concept of the original movie, it couldn't keep the same feel as the first. There was way too much satire, too much blatant parody for my taste. From the cult of plastic surgery, to the constant remarks people made on actually meeting Snake that they thought he would be bigger, it seemed ham fisted and forced. Also, a few references were made to how he may have escaped New York, but LA would eat him alive, but I got the feeling New York still would have been harder to survive. The original was made on a small budget, so they had to be creative, improvise in some areas, and that ended up paying off. This movie was obviously made on a larger budget, as the use of somewhat cheesy special effects is more present, but the charm and ingenuity from the first doesn't really carry over. It seemed to me that most all the actors were more interested in picking up a check. The flow of the story was pretty sporadic, with characters and situations thrown in just for the heck of it. Escape From LA follows a similar story line as Escape From New York, but maintains very little of it's sense of danger, grittiness, and sense of flowing action and purpose. Escape From LA was a fun movie, but don't expect too much from it as a true sequel to the original movie.
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Escape from LA is a very polarizing film for a number of reasons. When Escape from New York was made, it was done on a shoe string budget from an up and coming director who had just hit gold with Halloween. So he was really trying to establish himself on a number of fronts as a versatile director to demonstrate Halloween was no fluke. That being said, Escape from New York was something he had written seven years earlier as a lose concept that was sitting in the trunk of his car. When the project was finally green lit, he brought in Nick Castle (who also helped portray Michael Myers in Halloween)to help clean up and strengthen the concept. What followed were a number of happy accidents.

Escape from New York plays as an ambitious idea but is also grounded by it's ability to express it. So Carpenter is forced to be creative in all aspects of depicting this post-apocalyptic world by using very practical special effects. This forces him to use very low light to convey mood and stage scenes. This has an effect of allowing the viewer to envision the rest of the world on a grander scale than what can be shown. This above anything else gives Escape from New York it's charm and scope. It's like reading a good book and creating the world for ourselves as the writer gives us the parameters. Escape from LA removes that sense of scale by trying to convey everything.

Where Escape from New York gets it's business done by suggestion, Escape from LA tries to impress with special effects which are serviceable but undermines the story by limiting what the viewer can imagine for themselves. In short, we're shown too much, which forces the viewer to measure believability around the effects rather than expanding the world through what we don't see. As a result, the effects that might have seem main stream for it's day now come off cartoonish which has an effect of diminishing the scope of the setting. Ironically this also has an effect of making Escape from LA look more dated than it's predecessor. But what really hogties Escape from LA is it's stylistic approach to characterization.

Escape from New York enjoyed this eclectic use of actors that came from a variety of different backgrounds. While most were B-grade actors, their skills brought a unique flavor to the story. At that time, even it's star, Kurt Russell, was looking for a drastic change in image since he was mostly known for doing Disney films as a kid. Mix in Adrienne Barbeau, Donald Pleasance, Ernest Borgnine, Issac Hayes, and Lee Van Cleef (known best for spaghetti westerns), and you have this enormous melting pot of actors that most could not ever envision coming together except for maybe a disaster film,(Ernest Borgnine was in the Poseidon Adventure). So the film carries this immense charm from casting that was done most likely out of necessity to a budget, but allowed them to be more deliberate in finding actors who could actually be these characters. Escape from LA never comes close in that attempt.

While Escape from LA has a few good name actors, like Steve Buscemi and Bruce Campbell, it seems to be lost in trying to imitate it's predecessor's uniqueness in casting rather than finding actors who could deliver a memorable role. Peter Fonda is an odd choice that redefines the term "vanilla". And Cliff Robertson , while a very good actor, is essentially asked to overact in his role as president, which has a deflating effect on the believability of the entire premise. And I think the misdirection of Cliff Robertson is the key to where this film finds it's greatest problems.

In Escape from New York, there might have been B-grade actors, but they were delivering an A-grade performance to the part. In short, they were trying to be those characters within the scope of their delivery. In Escape from LA, there seems to be a dumbing down of characters to be something I guess Carpenter thought they appeared to be in his original. So you have some A-grade actors purposely delivering B-grade performances to try and mimic some kind of style that has an affect of under-acting which casts a satire type of flavoring to the story. It's at this point, I begin to wonder whether Carpenter is making fun of his own material or the previous actors that were giving their best performance. Of course he would never say that, but it certainly bears noting here. And finally we have the social undertones.

Escape from New York enjoys a healthy blend of science fiction with a nice irreverence for authority that really services the whole concept. It's an entire world sunken in distrust and ill conceived motivations. But what really sells the idea is how this revelation unfolds. Snake Plissken is initially sold as a criminal against the establishment. But as the story unfolds we see the cold detached inner workings of the establishment with the final insult coming as it's bloated leader turns an ungrateful slight to the people who lost life and limb to save him. It's at this point Snake delivers his own unique screw to pay the president back, which remains an infectious ending to this very day. Very clever, very clear.

Escape from LA sets up the villains too early which has an effect of a 'color-by-the-numbers' experience for this viewer. It overstates the anti-establishment idea by never allowing you to entrust them from the start. Cliff Robertson's role as an extreme right-wing President is so over-the-top, you wonder if Carpenter is trying to tell a story or just illustrate how much he hates the right wing philosophy. In fact, it's so outrageous, it borders on straight out camp which effectively undermines the entire plot. At no time do you ever feel like the movie is doing anything more than looking in the rearview mirror at it's predecessor. So the ability to maintain an engaged interest in the characters is limited since the formula is blatantly on display.

What ultimately allows this movie to remain watchable is Kurt Russell. He delivers an excellent performance in the role as Snake Plissken. He manages to hold together scenes that really shouldn't work and just delivers a screen presence which essentially shows us why the character is so loved. I agree the movie becomes more watchable after each viewing. But I tend to believe that's a result of letting go of the disappointments and just embracing the fact we have Snake Plissken in front of us played as ONLY Kurt Russell can deliver him. After all, it's really HIS character, with a slight nod of credit to Carpenter. I think if anything is clear from this much maligned sequel, it's that Kurt Russell remains fully connected to his character, And we see that despite a weak script and actually pretty weak direction as well. Kurt Russell can still carve out another classic performance in the title role. THAT makes the viewing worthwhile for me. And you can forget rebooting the franchise. NO ONE will ever do it as good as Kurt Russell.
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on January 30, 2017
I adore Kurt Russell - and would watch absolutely any movie he is in, now with that said, this was an amazingly BAD movie; one of the worst movies I've ever seen. I am however giving it 5-stars because while it was amazingly bad Kurt Russell was in it!
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on May 29, 2016
Better IMO than the last one but still not one of my favorite movies he has done. It was entertaining for the most part. So there's that but the acting just feels forced like he's trying to be someone/something bigger than what he is. Maybe it's just me not sure. My friends swear by the two but me? ehh...!
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on August 7, 2017
Snake Plissken! Need I say more. A great sequel to "New York". I have always liked Kurt Russell and have seen most of his movies. If you like KR you will love this SciFi Thriller.
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on January 18, 2017
It's that mixture of old and new that only Kurt Russel and John Carpenter can give us. If you're looking for a fun little ride and enjoyed the campy types, you'll enjoy this.
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