Blu-ray Review: ESCAPE FROM L.A.

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Blu-ray Review: ESCAPE FROM L.A.

I'm not quite sure of the history of how Escape From L.A. was made, but I do know that director John Carpenter (The Fog, Halloween, Escape From New York) does not like sequels, so the fact that this film perplexes me. I've also heard that there was an "Escape From Earth" sequel written, but I don't know if this is simply a rumor or not. 

Anyway, Escape From L.A. is out from Shout! Factory on Blu-ray as of las week; the film had an amazing budget of $50 million dollars and was released in 1996. The original, Escape From New York, had $6 million. Funny how movie budgets work, but the sequel didn't even make back half its budget. That's a hard fact to reckon with.

The first time I saw Escape From L.A., I actively disliked it. Upon a rewatch, I have to admit that it's more fun than I recall, sketchy CGI and all. And for that matter, the CGI back in 1996 was likely very expensive, cutting-edge stuff. 

The funny thing is, Escape From L.A. is basically a beat-for-beat continuation of Escape From New York --- same jokes ("I thought you were dead" versus "I thought you'd be taller"), similar ethnic baddies (Duke versus Cuervo), and even the same kind of pimped out, yet old school car (chandeliers versus a disco ball and baby doll heads). 

Escape From L.A. was directed by Carpenter, produced by Debra Hill (The Fog, ClueThe Dead ZoneHalloweenEscape From New York) and Kurt Russell (ElvisEscape From New York, The Hateful Eight, Tango & Cash), and co-written by all three.

The plot goes like this: in "present day 2013," Snake Plissken is again taken against his will by dystopian and fascist American government, which isn't so far fetched these days. Plissken was a free man at the end of Escape From New York, but apparently some Robin Hood-type action went down in Cleveland with Pam Grier's (Foxy Brown, Coffy, Scream Blacula ScreamJackie Borwn) former self (she's a trans-woman outlaw named Herse here). 

In any case, Plissken again ran afoul of the law and he's been brought in to retrieve a briefcase full of codes in the island of Los Angeles (broken off from California by a huge earthquake), as well as kill the President's dissident daughter --- at the WASPy, hyper-religious President's request. Played by Cliff Robertson, this President is along the lines of The Dead Zone's zealous Greg Stillson, though not as apocalyptic, at least onscreen.

Plissken is once again infected with a disease of the government's making, in this case a super-deadly, engineered flu, and has a very limited amount of time to accomplish his Herculean tasks. Of course, he does so, because he is indeed Snake Plissken, but not before being crossed, crossed again, shot at, and almost carved up for parts by the Surgeon General of Beverly Hills (Bruce Campbell). Grier and "Maps to the Stars Eddie" Steve Buscemi (Fargo, Ghost World, Resevoir Dogs), as well as Peter Fonda (Easy Rider, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, The Cannonball Run) all factor in, in addition to revolutionary-fascist Cuervo Jones and Stacy Keach (American History X, W., Gotti), who fills as a counterpart in for Lee Van Cleef's Hauk character in the original film.

Escape From L.A. is a very ambitious film from an equally ambitious script; Plissken rides a hang glider, rides in a futuristic submarine, hangs ten from a tsunami wave with Fonda's chill surfer, and manages to shoot some pretty crazy hoops in a gladiator-type competition for his life. The wreckage of Los Angeles and Hollywood is on display is full end times fashion, and the weirdness of Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards are basically the same.

All in all, Escape From L.A. is a good, escapist time, while reminding us of where we're headed if we're not careful.  

As for the picture, it looks great. Sound is good as well, with the exception of a split second that dropped out from the track. Was it dust in my machine? I can't say, except that it's never happened to me before. Perhaps there's a minute defect in the disc I received. 

Well, let's get on to the special features on this release. Here's the list:

Bonus Features

  • NEW 4K Film Scan From The Original Negative
  • NEW A Little Bit Off Beat – An Interview With Actor Stacy Keach
  • NEW Beverly Hills Workshed – An Audio Interview With Actor Bruce Campbell
  • NEW Part of the Family – An Interview With Peter Jason
  • NEW Miss A Shot, Get A Shot – An Interview With George Corraface
  • NEW One Eye Is Better Than None – An Interview With Special Effects Artist Jim McPherson
  • NEW The Renderman – An Interview With Visual Effects Artist David Jones
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery

The audio interview with Bruce Campbell was interesting, but beyond that, it would have been great to have a commentary track. I've heard that both Carpenter and Russell don't like the film so much, so I get it.

If you'd like to add the Blu-ray to your home collection, head on over to Shout! Factory's site here.

Escape from L.A.

  • John Carpenter
  • John Carpenter (characters)
  • Nick Castle (characters)
  • John Carpenter
  • Debra Hill
  • Kurt Russell
  • Kurt Russell
  • Steve Buscemi
  • Peter Fonda
  • Cliff Robertson
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Blu-ray reviewShout FactoryJohn CarpenterNick CastleDebra HillKurt RussellSteve BuscemiPeter FondaCliff RobertsonActionAdventureSci-FiThriller

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