Escape from L.A.

Escape from L.A. ★★★

John Carpenter once went on record saying "Escape from L.A. is better than the first movie. Ten times better. It's got more to it." And in a sense, he's right. There is a whole lot more to Escape from L.A. than there was Escape from New York. Whether that makes it better or not is a matter that is, to put it charitably, up for debate.

When Escape from L.A. is functioning at its best, it's when the film is playing into being a maximalist parody of the original. Instead of Brain we have Maps to the Stars Eddie. Instead of the Duke of New York we have terrorist leader Cuervo Jones. And so on. Most everything fits the mold of being Escape from New York but bigger and, honestly, stupider. While the cast can't quite match up to Donald Pleasence, Harry Dean Stanton, Lee Van Cleef etc, there's some really fun work from Steve Buscemi, Peter Fonda, Stacy Keach, Pam Grier, and Bruce Campbell in a memorable role.

Many targets of the jokes are obvious (plastic surgery, religious fundamentalism) and it's weird to hear 90s stalwarts like Tool and White Zombie in a movie that otherwise sounds like a Carpenter picture. But it's fun to see everyone obviously enjoying themselves so much, especially Kurt Russell who growls and snarls and, frankly, Plisskens his way through the whole picture.

All respect to Carpenter, Escape from New York this ain't. But, watched in the right mood and with the right approach to the material, there's a fair amount to enjoy about this much maligned sequel.

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