During his sixty-year career in the entertainment industry actor Kurt Russell (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2) has played many memorable characters. From Jack Burton in Big Trouble in Little China to Dean Proffit in Overboard to Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, he has left an indelible mark. Perhaps one of his most well-known roles is Snake Plisskin, a renegade who breaks the law of an oppressive government and finds himself exiled to an island prison for life. In Escape from New York, Plisskin is offered the opportunity to have his sentence pardoned if he can get the President off the Island after the Commander in Chief's plane was intentionally crashed into the Island. Five years later, Plisskin finds himself once again in a similar situation in John Carpenter's Escape from L.A. To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the film's release, Paramount Pictures is releasing it on 4K for the first time.
In 1998 President Adam (Cliff Robertson; Charly) declared Los Angeles to be punished by God and made it a place to send all sinners since it was no longer a part of the United States. However, his daughter, Utopia (A.J. Langer; Private Practice), brainwashed by a Peruvian revolutionary named Cuervo Jones (Georges Corraface; A touch of Spice) convinces her to steal the superweapon her father had and takes it to L.A. Of Course, Plisskin is once again arrested, and while being sent to L.A. is offered the opportunity to get the weapon back and kill the president's daughter.
Escape from New York was an interesting, unique look at the possible future of the United States and the Penal System. It was action-packed and proved that Russell could carry an action-packed film. The sequel wasn't as good as the first and, while it followed the same formula, the script wasn't as good as the first time around. Russell was still able to carry the movie, but the same intensity was there so, like so many sequels, it didn't do as well at the box office. Langer does an admirable if slightly annoying job and Steve Buscemi (Fargo) plays Map to the Stars Eddie and offers some humor while complicating the other characters' lives.
The problem with taking an older film like this and transferring to 4K is that, more often than not, it makes the graphics and special effects look fake since they were finished in 2K. While the original effects weren't terrific, to begin with, it makes them look even worse with the upgraded video quality, so they have to be taken with a grain of salt. Conversely, the color palette while muted, offers clean and clear pictures. The DTS-HD Master audio 5.1 has some depth to it and tends to make up for the deficient video. The track makes nice use of all the surround speakers, and the effects were well done.
Probably the biggest disappointment is the lack of extras. In this case, there is only one...the theatrical trailer. Even the Blu-ray that had been released a few years prior, had a number of extras, so I don't understand why Paramount didn't just release the audio from the former Blu-ray? Perhaps they are saving any others for the 30th anniversary.
If you have never seen this sequel, I suggest you don't compare it to Escape from New York, because they are as different as the two movies could be. The first one did a great job with the plot and character development. Sadly, Escape from L.A. couldn't keep up the momentum and uniqueness of Escape from New York.
Even though Escape from L.A. has developed a cult following over the years, you can't deny that the first one was a better film.