Bigger is not always better and remakes often are better left unmade sometimes. Case in point, John Carpenter got a big budget to make Escape from LA 17 years after he made his low budget classic Escape from New York. It was almost the same movie but with a garish budget and a largely recycled story. It pales in comparison to this one.
In the opening credits, the stage is set for us, in the near future (1988) the crime in the US rose exponentially and Manhattan Island is abandoned and transformed into an enclosed prison surrounded by land mines with a police force, similar to an army stationed around it as it's gaurds. Once you are off to New York you stay there and if you try and escape the guards will shoot you. Cut to the future (1997) and the rest of the world meanwhile is in peril with impending nuclear destruction and a demonstration group captured the President's plane and has crashed it into New York prison. A former war hero turned criminal, Snake Plisskin is given an offer he can't refuse, get into the prison and find the President and an important recording he's carrying and if he gets out, a full pardon is his. After being issued his equpment he's off to a dark and decaying metropolis of New York full of graffitti, rotten buildings, criminals and "crazies". Along the way he meets plenty of people with a bit of a running joke and gets help from an old aquaintence, Harry Dean Stanton.
The movie is low budget but doesn't look like it. Sure the titles are cheap with just a black background with white letters but anything else from sets to props look nice. The special effects are presentable and help the story instead of substituting one.
Kurt Russel plays his best character as Snake in this movie a guy who really doesn't give a damn about you or anything else but ends up being the best man in the movie. Theres no BS in him whereas even people on the side of the straight and narrow aren't all on the level or have little of the compassion that people in their position should have. Issac Hayes has a role that he will forever be remembered for after Chef from South Park, with The Duke of New York A number 1. Cool and menacing and not even needing to say alot, Duke intimidates everyone around him and his henchman Romero (predating Dragonball Z with his crazy hair) intimidates for different reasons.
The great thing is that looking back on this movie is that if it really was 1997, it shows that not a lot has changed in that there are no flying cars or food pills and outside of the prison idea it's a belivable setting and we get a bit of a glimpse of how the society runs instead of a lot of post apacolyptic wasteland movies that simply showcase action scenes and only touch on the life that inhabits it about scraping by and finding food. With less care, Escape From New York could've turned into a wasteland.
The only thing that bugs me is the science in this movie. Sure I know it's a science fiction/action movie but it's strange to me that a society that lives in an abandoned city, even one as big as New York are able to build oil derrigs and allegedally have steam power. Must be that advanced 1997 technology we have now. I know to take with a grain of salt that maybe we should have progressed farther, but maybe were getting closer to the wasteland then we thought..
John Carpenter has turned out some excellent low-budget cult classics over the years. Assault on Precinct 13, They Live, Big Trouble in Little China... (Edit: Originally listed The Thing as a low-budget film, as the comments point out, for it's time it was not) But probably the best out of all of his works, in my humble opinion (well, I guess it can't be that humble, I feel the need to tell all of you about it!) is the aforementioned Escape … more
Escape from New York is one of the best films that John Carpenter has ever directed. A low budget science fiction action film that's still cool today. Kurt Russell also earns a life time man card for breathing life into one of the greatest anti-heroes to ever grace their presence upon the silver screen. During the eighties, John Carpenter produced several classic films. A few of them are highly underrated and they have been dismissed by the critics and viewing public. The … more
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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