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He Said, She Said Review Site
Escape From New York


What She said:


I always find it intriguing to watch movies from before I was born.  It’s an insider’s look at how the world functioned back then.  That said, John Carpenter’s Escape from New York is supposed to be set in 1997.  But this semi-futuristic action flick screams 1981, and doesn’t seem to have much of a grasp of what the world would truly be like in the future.  It does, however, offer an amusing premise, colorful characters, and a decent amount of explosions.

The movie takes us to a world where Manhattan has been quarantined off as a live-in and ungoverned prison colony.  The worst of the worst are sent there to live out their lives without any policing.  So it’s basically a barbaric underbelly of crime.  One day, the President’s plane is hijacked and he is taken hostage within the colony.  Government peeps freak out, as there is a very important meeting coming up involving the President and he’s carrying with him a crucial audio tape and other confidential documents.  They hatch this idea to keep things covert by sending in ex-soldier turned criminal, Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), to extract the Prez.  In exchange, Snake will be a free man and have his past charges cleared.  To motivate him to follow through, they implant him with something that’ll kill him if he isn’t successful within 22 hours.  And so there’s a lot at stake for Snake, who quickly finds out the task will be much more difficult than he had originally imagined.

The film is certainly quirky.  It could not be more ‘80s if it wanted to be, and I think that’s what adds its bizarrely humorous nature.  For example, a dude drives up in a giant, square Cadillac with extravagant chandeliers mounted to the hood.  The He later noted that those chandeliers really cut down on your field of vision during a car chase.  There’s also a lot of wild hair in this movie.  Check that, there’s actually just a lot of hair in general in this movie.  With ‘80s music and ‘80s fashion, I had to keep reminding myself that this is 1997.  Clearly, filmmakers didn’t quite get what the world would be like that far into the future.  To their credit, they certainly didn’t overshoot on the futuristic element.  For the most part, I give them a pass, as the movie is largely set in the prison colony and these people likely are still stuck with the resources of days prior.  In other words, they’re not going to be super sophisticated.

I’m dwelling on one point here, so let’s move on.  The acting in this film is hit or miss.  The characters are vibrant, but some seem a little overacted.  Of course, Kurt Russell is great.  This character seems like a natural fit for him.  It makes me wish he’d come back and do an Expendables movie.  The writing and story of the film are fun, and fairly well done; nothing too deep, just entertaining, which is fine for this genre.  The production value of this movie is somewhat mediocre, but again, it’s passable.  What really makes Escape from New York enjoyable is just the general weirdness of the personalities in this film.  It’s so odd that it makes for an entertaining bit of action, and that’s good enough for a Friday or Saturday night.

Thumbs mostly up. 

Escape From New York


What He said:

Escape From New York

I’m not sure why I don’t own more John Carpenter movies. He’s made several movies over the years that I enjoy immensely. Halloween and The Thing are some of the most entertaining horror movies I’ve ever seen. Big Trouble in Little China is a hilarious spoof of old kung fu flicks. They Live is an awesome action sci fi movie that touches on conspiracy theories, anti-government paranoia, and is hysterical to boot. I even liked Vampires, which his pretty much the only decent movie he’s made in decades.

Like a lot of other movies that portray Earth in the future, the planet has turned into a complete shit hole in Escape From New York. The crime rate in the U.S. skyrocketed 400% and the world is tied up in a Third Word War. There is some hope though as there is a summit planned between the U.S., Soviet Union, and China to discuss a truce. Unfortunately a bunch of anti-government terrorists have other plans and hijack Air Force One and crash it into New York. The President (Donald Pleasence) survives, but is alone and stuck in NY.

Oh, did I forget to mention the entire state of New York has been turned into a prison? Remember the whole crime rate rising to 400% piece of info? Well as a result, the government decides to throw up a giant wall around the state, place soldiers around the exterior to patrol it, and throw all criminals from around the country inside those walls. What’s not to love about that? And of course it turns into a complete madhouse inside. IQ drops, humanity de-evolves, and gangs with all kinds of colorful characters are formed.

This is where Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) comes into play. Snake is a well-known criminal with a past and the skills to pull a rescue like this off. He was actually going to be sent to NY as an inmate when all of this happens. Knowing who he is and all about his abilities, Police Commissioner Hauk (Lee Van Cleef) offers Snake a deal. If he retrieves the President and the important information he possesses, he’ll get a full pardon. Snake isn’t a very agreeable guy, and doesn’t seem to care about much about anything or anyone, but he ends up getting involved anyway.

Escape From New York

Once he’s inside the walls, he meets all kinds of interesting people. Cannibals, crime lords, and other generally charming people are some of the type of people he encounters. He quickly allies himself with a guy who calls himself Cabbie; who to no one’s surprise drives a cab. Cabbie (Ernest Borgnine) informs him the President is being held captive by The Duke of New York City. The Duke (Isaac Hayes) runs the show. He’s the man in charge of everything in the entire city. Cabbie takes Snake to the Brain (Harry Dean Stanton), who works for the Duke. Brain and Duke go way back and Snake “asks” him to take him to where the Duke has the President held hostage. Snake, Cabbie, Brain, and Brain’s gal Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau) embark on the mission.

This is a great B movie. It’s got it all: a post-apocalyptic setting, gangs of bad guys, cynical heroes, paranoia, anti-government sentiments, and a leader of a gang who drives a car decorated with chandeliers.

Prognosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on August 25, 2013.