Monday, September 15, 2014

Movie Review: "Escape from L.A." (1996)

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Movie"Escape from L.A."
Director: John Carpenter
Year: 1996
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

A giant earthquake devastates Los Angeles in the year 2000, turning the city into an island. The man who predicted the earthquake is declared president of the United States for life and turns it into a religious theocracy. They wall off the island of L.A. from the rest of the country and deport all criminals there. It's now 2013 and the president's own daughter, Utopia (AJ Langer), steals a doomsday prototype capable of destroying the U.S. and flees to Los Angeles. The government taps the notorious criminal Snake Plisskin (Kurt Russell) to infiltrate L.A. and recover the device in exchange for a full pardon. To make sure Snake complies, they inject him with a virus that will kill him in ten hours if he doesn't complete his task. 

Can you say campy? "Escape from L.A." is just that, cheese, camp, and more cheese. It takes place in the future, which is now actually the past. It rehashes the same plot as "Escape from New York," just changing minor details and settings. It contains scenes in which Snake has to play basketball to avoid being executed, and another where he surfs after a car. Whether these things are meant to be funny or not, they are, and garner a few laughs at their absurdity. Kurt Russell grunts and grumbles his way through this very un-inventive sequel. It's lame to rehash the same movie, just in a different setting. In fact, there's nothing more not creative than that. The first movie was relatively successful and can be considered a cult classic, but for filmmakers to wait 15 years to make a sequel just screams too little, too late.

You have a practically constructed post-apocalyptic Los Angeles set that actually looks decent, surrounded by bad 90's digital effects. When we say the digital effects are bad, we mean laughably bad, like Asylum Productions bad. The surfing scene in particular reminds us of the 1950's old-school Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello surfer movies, where the scene is obviously faked on a static board that's bolted to the ground and the actors just sway back and forth erratically to simulate wave movement. How they go from decent constructed sets to horrid and absurd special effects blows our minds. All in all, stick with the original and skip the sequel.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 12%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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