• Escape From L.A. (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: May 26th, 2020.
    Director: John Carpenter
    Cast: Kurt Russell, Stacey Keach, Pam Grier, Bruce Campbell, Steve Buscemi, George Corraface, Cliff Robertson, Peter Fonda
    Year: 1996
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    Escape From L.A. – Movie Review:

    Made a decade and a half after 1981’s Escape From New York made Snake Plissken a cult icon in the truest sense of the word, 1995’s Escape From L.A. brings leading man Kurt Russell and director John Carpenter back for a second run. The results? Not as good! But definitely a lot of fun in its own, overly goofy way. Where the first film got dark and tense, this one gets campy and, well, intentionally silly but if you’re in the right mood for it and just want some fun entertainment, this much maligned sequel will scratch that itch.

    The premise this time isn’t so far removed from the original. Earthquakes have severed Los Angeles from the rest of the United States, with the main land having built a wall around its borders and the City Of Angels left as a no man’s land. The President (Cliff Robertson) plays to his base, espousing right-wing Christian believes when addressing his base but not quite practicing what he preaches when the cameras aren’t rolling. His daughter, Utopia (A.J. Langer), has gotten involved with a Che Guevara-esque revolutionary named Cuervo Jones (Georges Corrface) and through this Jones has acquired a top secret military device that can shut down electricity across the planet. The President wants this back, and his daughter taken out of the picture, and so he and his crew, led by Commander Malloy (Stacy Keach), inject Snake Plissken with a timed virus that will kill him in a certain amount of time. The idea here is that Snake now has so many hours to get into L.A., find Utopia and Jones, get the device back and return to the mainland to get injected with a cure before he kicks the bucket.

    Soon enough, Snake is launched via submarine to Los Angeles, very quickly finding himself in the thick of it. Along the way he meets a shifty conman named 'Maps To The Stars' Eddie (Steve Buscemi), the Surgeon General Of Beverly Hills (Bruce Campbell), a lovely and helpful woman named Taslima (Valeria Golino), a surfer named Pipeline (Peter Fonda) and an old friend named Hershe Las Palmas (Pam Grier) who was once known as Carjack.

    Of course, there are twists and turns and plenty of backs stabbed along the way. Escape From L.A. offers few surprises but it is a crowd-pleaser in that it’s got the expected one-liners, some decent action set pieces and a cool-as-ice performance from Russell. In fact, it’s Russell’s work here that makes this as watchable as it is. He doesn’t miss a beat as Snake, it’s the role he was born to play and he does a great job here, even when he changes out of his original outfit into something that looks like it came out of The Matrix. The supporting cast is really solid too. Pam Grier is weirdly awesome in her part, and an almost unrecognizable Bruce Campbell a kick in his role. Peter Fonda (not to be confused with Dick Dale) is pretty amusing too while Steve Buscemi legitimately steals a couple of scenes from the rest of the cast. Corrface makes a decent heavy and Robertson is well-cast as a politician who sadly feels all too real in 2020. Throw in Steve Keach and yeah, the cast here is strong.

    That said, there are some problems here. If the script feels so very much like a simple rehash of the original, there’s a reason for that – it is. The movie also suffers from some seriously bad computer effects, bad even by the generally bad standards of nineties CGI work. Some will complain, and not without merit, that the film doesn’t take itself seriously enough, that it’s too campy for its own good – and there’s truth to that. But if you can look past that and enjoy Russell playing Plissken for one last time, a really killer supporting cast and a couple of impressive set pieces than Escape From L.A. can and will be a lot of good, goofy fun.

    Escape From L.A. – Blu-ray Review:

    Escape From L.A. arrives on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory on a 50GB disc with the feature taking up over 32GBS of space and framed at 2.35.1 widescreen with a transfer taken from a new 4k scan of the original 35mm negative. No complaints here at all, this is a very nice looking picture. Detail is quite strong throughout playback and there’s very nice color reproduction on hand throughout the duration of the film. Skin tones look good and there’s strong depth here. Compression artifacts are never an issue nor are edge enhancement or noise reduction. Film grain is there, as it should be, but there aren’t any problems with print damage. Quite a strong transfer in every regard.

    English language options are supplied in DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Master Audio tracks with optional subtitles provided in English only. The 5.1 track on this disc is a good one, doing a very nice job of spreading out the effects and especially the score (the surf scene being a really good example of this). The track is clean, clear and nicely balanced, there are no problems with any hiss, distortion or sibilance. It’s a pretty enveloping mix and at times, pretty impressive.

    There are six new featurettes included in the extras section on the disc, starting with A Little Bit Off Beat which interviews actor Stacy Keach for eight-minutes. He speaks here about how he enjoyed working with Carpenter on this film and Body Bags, how he met him in the first place and how much he appreciated what both Debra Hill and Kurt Russell were able to bring to the picture.

    Beverly Hills Workshed is an audio interview with Bruce Campbell that runs for just over nine-minutes. Here ‘The Chin’ talks about how and why he was cast in the film, meeting and working with Carpenter, his thoughts on his character in the picture and some of the arduous makeup appliances that he had to deal with on the shoot.

    Part Of The Family interviews with Peter Jason for just short of twenty-six-minutes and it covers a fair bit of ground including how he developed an interest in acting at an early age and then how he got his start in the business. He goes on to talk about landing an agent, working with Howard Hawks, collaborating with Carpenter first on Prince Of Darkness and then later efforts, including Escape From L.A.. He also talks about what it was like on set and how he enjoyed working with the other cast members.

    In Miss A Shot, Get A Shot we spend some time with George Corraface. Here, over fifteen-minutes, we learn how he got his start in the business, some of the early projects that he was involved with, scoring a big part with Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, working with Timothy Dalton, getting the part in Escape From L.A., working with Carpenter and Russell and quite a bit more.

    One Eye Is Better Than None is an interview with special effects artist Jim Mc Pherson. In this eighteen-minute piece we learn about his background and training and then how he got his start in the effects business, moving to L.A. to work on bigger projects, finding success, landing the gig on Escape From L.A., what it was like on set and, of course, how much of a treat it was to work with Carpenter on a picture like this.

    Lastly, The Renderman is an interview with visual effects artist David Jones that lasts for just over nineteen-minutes. He talks about growing up around computers and developing an interest in digital effects while they were still very much in their infancy. He then goes on to detail moving to California to work in the industry, getting a chance to work with Carpenter on this picture, and how he feels about the quality of the digital effects in the film now being able to look back at them with more experienced eyes (he is refreshingly honest in this area).

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are a theatrical trailer, a few TV spots, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. Shout! Factory packages this release with a reversible cover sleeve and a slipcover.

    Escape From L.A. – The Final Word:

    Escape From L.A. isn’t the stone cold classic that Snake Plissken’s first cinematic adventure was, but it’s an entertaining, if overly campy, picture with another great turn from Russell in a legitimately iconic role and a fun supporting cast. Shout! Factory has done a genuinely great job bringing this much-maligned sequel to Blu-ray with a very impressive presentation and some nice extras. Those who don’t like the movie won’t likely be won over by this, but for those who do enjoy it, this is definitely an upgrade worth making.

    Click on the images below for full-sized Escape From L.A. screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I'd forgotten all about the jump from the tidal wave to the back of the convertible hahaha. Yeah, this one has it's moments, alright.