mon 22/07/2024

Blu-ray: Escape from LA | reviews, news & interviews

Blu-ray: Escape from LA

Blu-ray: Escape from LA

John Carpenter's overblown sequel to his cult classic gets a sparkling re-release

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Kurt Russell in latex...

Fifteen years after John Carpenter scored a massive box-office hit with his ingenious low-budget sci-fi thriller Escape from New York (1981), he was given a free rein to make Escape from LA. Unfortunately, unlimited access to extras and all the toys available in the special-effects cupboard in 1993 didn’t make for a better movie. 

The original dystopian satire turned Kurt Russell into a star as leather-clad, eye-patch-toting Snake Plisken. Former soldier turned convict Snake was offered his freedom if he could rescue a corrupt POTUS from the prison island of Manhattan, where insurgents held him hostage. Escape from New York was politically smart, exhilarating as an action film, and rightly gained its cult status..

The sequel, which flopped on its original release, is set in 2013 after a massive earthquake has separated Los Angeles from the rest of America. The country is ruled by a theocratic dictator (Cliff Robertson), who imprisons atheists alongside prostitutes and criminals in the ruined City of Angels. The Hollywood Bowl is the location for torture rituals; iconic buildings lie in ruins. 

Escape from LARussell (also given an executive producer and co-writer credit) is given a new mission – bring back the evangelical president’s errant daughter, who has taken up with a bunch of Shining Path insurgents on the prison island. Russell is joined by a lacklustre Peter Fonda and a tediously hyper Steve Buscemi, while the future Countess of Devon, AJ Lenger, played the daughter besotted with Che Guevara lookalike Georges Corraface.

Legendary action star Pam Grier is wasted in a cameo appearance as Snake’s former nemesis turned trans villainness Hershe Laspalmas, while Bruce Campbell (of Evil Dead fame) also popped up as a demonic plastic surgeon, harvesting prisoners’ features for his wealthy clients. Carpenter’s potshots at Hollywood often fall flat and are certainly dated.

There are camp pleasures to be had in some of the action sequences – this may be the only movie where surfers riding a tsunami breaker outpace a getaway car, and Kurt Russell swipes enemies while dangling from a hang-glider – but it’s not a patch on similar sci-fi movies from the same era (RobocopTerminator 2). This new 4HD edition doesn’t come with any interesting extras and the crisp picture quality only serves to highlight the extensive use of miniatures, back projection and matte work necessary alongside relatively crude CGI.

Carpenter’s potshots at Hollywood often fall flat and are certainly dated


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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