Monday, September 01, 2003


A Video Review of "John Carpenter's Escape From L.A."

No matter what you say about him you can't deny that John Carpenter has fun. Everything he does smacks of 'wouldn't-it-be-cool-if.' He loves to score his own films with soundtracks that sound like Ennio Morricone with an electric guitar. Like I said he has fun.

Most of his films, with the exception of his horror work, are just non-stop action roller coasters. The wink wink seed of They Live, the endless movie serial ride of Big Trouble in Little China, the apathetic humor of Dark Star and of course the utter coolness of this film's prequel Escape From New York are all examples of Carpenter having way too much fun making action movies.

The character of Snake Plisskin is proof positive of Carpenter's love of movie serials. He is the reluctant hero, the anti-hero, the one we root for against all odds, the one who always wins but on his own terms. Deftly played by Carpenter's old friend and collaborator Kurt Russell, Snake Plisskin is a force to be reckoned with.

The premise of Escape From L.A. is very similar to that of its predecessor, almost in a satire or parody mode. Again, Carpenter's having fun winking at the audience. Again a time limit on a mission against Snake's will and again we see the government portrayed as stupid, corrupt and evil. It's almost like real life. Another wink from Carpenter.

After a while the concept of everything in future Los Angeles having some bizarre California-ism to it gets old pretty quick but it's still cool. Highlights of this ilk include Steve Buscemi as a walking tourist trap selling 'maps of the stars,' Pam Grier as a transsexual gang leader and Peter Fonda as an aging surfer. The always amazing Bruce Campbell is hilarious as the Surgeon General of Los Angeles. Did I mention how much fun John Carpenter has?

The ending leaves the need for a sequel. Hopefully it won't be as long a wait between the next sequel Escape From Earth as it was for the second one.

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