John Carpenter's Escape From L.A. [Blu-ray]
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John Carpenter's Escape From L.A. (BD)
The man with the patch is back. Call him Snake. Kurt Russell rejoins fil mmakers John Carpenter and Debra Hill to do to the Big Orang e what they did to the Big Apple in Escape From New York – with even more futuristi c thrills and slam-bang action! Into the 9.6-quak ed Los Angeles of 2013 comes Snake Plissken (Russell). His job: wade through L.A.'s ruined lan dmarks to retrieve a doomsday device. Don't miss the excitement as Snake surfs Wilshire Blvd., shoots hoops at the Coliseum, dive bombs the Happ y Kingdom theme park, and mixes it up with a wild assortment of friends, fiends and foes (Stacy Keach, Steve Buscemi, Peter Fonda, George Corraf ace, Cliff Rob ertson, Pam Grier and more). Escape From L.A. is a "go-fo r-broke action extravaganza!" (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times).]]>
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This penal colony is where the film's future rulers, something very like the Moral Majority, send those deemed guilty of "moral crimes." 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.
The film's dark dystopia, with its satrical elements taking aim at our dwindling freedoms, and the eclipsing of democracy by narrow interests, are more the subject this time.
As a result the action suffers, and the plot devices are sometimes weak and predictable, but just below the surface there is a coiled Snake ready to strike.
Steve Buscemi's performance as a weasely hawker of L.A. tour maps is a standout, and the presence of Peter Fonda and Pam Grier adds to the fun. In fact, just the sight of Fonda surfing down the flooded corridor of Sunset Boulevard is reason enough to check this movie out.
The plot in this sequel is on August 23, 2000, a 9.6 magnitude Earthquake hits the city of Los Angeles causing it to seperate from the mainland by flooding the San Fernando Valley & turning California into an island from Malibu to Anaheim.
Prior to this disaster, an American presidential candidate whose also outspoken Christian theocrat predicts the disaster during his campaign stating that L.A. is a "City of Sin".
Therefore, Los Angeles is now in ruins & a hotbed of crime as Snake sneaks into the city making his way across the island.
Snake is captured again for another series of crimes & is scheduled to be exiled to the island, but upon deportation Snake meets with the President(Cliff Robertson)& is offered a mission & a full pardon for all his crimes if Snake accomplishes the dangerous mission.
In addition, something that didn't make a lot of sense to me in this movie was when one of the thugs is protesting at the L.A. Coliseum, he says "You may have been able to escape New York, but you wont be able to escape from LA", because I think New York City would actually be harder to escape from than Los Angeles would, since New York City is bigger, more congested, more overcrowded, and less concerned about crime than L.A. is along with the fact that LA is like heaven compared to New York City.
Therefore, having to accomplish a mission in L.A. would seem more like a downgrade of having to accomplish a mission in New York City, since things are usually quite a bit more challenging in New York City than they are in LA, despite the fact that it was kind of interesting seeing Snake go from being on the East Coast to the West Coast, plus it was kind of neat seeing them showing all those nice and interesting suburbs in the L.A. Area like Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Downtown L.A., Chinatown, etc., but ESCAPE FROM LA still wasn't as impressive or as significant as its predecessor was, especially since ESCAPE FROM LA tanked at the box office during its theatrical release in the Summer of 1996 as opposed to how ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK did when it was theatrically released in the Summer of 1981.
What I don't understand is why did John Carpenter or Paramount took 15 years to make a sequel to ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.
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.
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