DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Escape from L.A., Blu (1996/2010)

A pretty silly and satirical sequel to Carpenter's 1980 Escape from New York.

Published on May 13, 2010

Escape from L.A., Blu (1996/2010)

Escape from L.A., Blu (1996/2010)

Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russell, Stacy Keach, Steve Buscemi, Peter Fonda, Cliff Robertson
Studio: Paramount 14333 [5/4/10]
Video: 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English DD TrueHD, French DD 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Extras: only the theatrical trailer
Length: 100 min.
Rating: ***

Some authorities feel that Carpenter hates sequels and that’s why he made such a silly action film that just repeated most of the gimmicks of his 1980 Escape From New York. However, Kurt Russell still looks good and in shape for all the action. He even actually made all the seemingly impossible basketball shots near the end. Carpenter seems to have a ball bringing in plenty of satire of both extreme conservatives and liberals as well as revolutionaries. The rebel leader in LA who Snake is after  – Cuervo Jones – looks like Che, and President for Life Cliff Robertson has set up a religious dictatorship which has banished all people not of high moral fiber (including those who consume alcohol, smoke, are atheists, sexually free, or eat red meat.)

Those who don’t meet the new nation’s strict moral standards lose their citizenship and are sent to the wild, lawless and wrecked island of LA, which incidentally now sits off the coast due to a 9.6 Richter earthquake. Snake Plissken is made against his will to serve the President, infected with a deadly virus that will kill him in ten hours without the antidote – which they will give him if and when he returns with a prized black box and the President’s daughter. (Same bit as Escape from New York.)

It appears some of the top names here took part because it looked like a lot of fun. Robertson is suitably weird as the President, Steve Buscemi is his usual annoying self, B-movie queen Pam Grier plays a wild associate of Snake’s, Peter Fonda is a stoner surfer, and Stacy Keach directs Snake’s exploits on the island long distance. The whole film is already over the top, but two sequences take it even further into the land of silliness: the scene of Snake surfing with Fonda, and the attack on the revolutionaries by Snake and his cohort on hang gliders which evidently have the ability to stay in the air and maneuver forever without getting shot down.

Some of the special effects are OK and others look rather primitive. A designer who worked on Blade Runner and other such epics was involved, and helped make the film look bigger in general than the budget it had.  The Blu-ray transfer seems excellent and the surround track is effective – plenty of gunshots and violence in this silly extravaganza.




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