Although certainly dated in places, John Carpenter’s 1981 action classic Escape from New York remains a favourite of mine. There’s something about its dark, dystopian thrills that is oddly charming – it’s a film I often find myself returning to. Can the same be said about its 1996 sequel, Escape from L.A.?
Escape from L.A. was in development for over 10 years. A script was commissioned in ‘87 and written by screenwriter the spectacularly named Coleman Luck, with Dino De Laurentiis‘s company set to produce – but Carpenter described the script as “too light, too campy” and, in time, got together with star Kurt Russell (who was desperate to play the role of Snake Plissken again) and longtime collaborator Debra Hill to write it themselves. And yet, Carpenter’s initial criticism of Luck’s script could easily be applied to the finished product.
Escape from L.A. is an absolute mess, bordering on spoof – although I like to think that Carpenter has his tongue firmly in cheek. The whole look and feel of the film is laughable, with the performances hammier than Miss Piggy’ arse. Everything is just so over-the-top and outrageous and feels utterly unlike John Carpenter’s usual output, resulting in a bizarre piece of work that fails to live up to the quality of the first film in any way, shape, or form.
But with that said, there’s no denying that Escape from L.A. is wholly entertaining. Whether its flaws are self-aware and intentional or just totally misguided, there’s an enormous amount of fun to be had here. The set-pieces are so daft – a surf chase is especially memorable in how loveably bad it is. The visual effects are pretty dire throughout, and the 4K UHD certainly exacerbates that – but the disc is otherwise spellbindingly beautiful, offering up an absolutely sublime transfer that breathes new life into the film. It looks astonishing
Escape from L.A. is absolutely all over the place and deeply flawed, but remains as charming as ever in 4K.
John Carpenter’s Escape From L.A. is available on 4K UHD™ now