Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★★½

I think I had forgotten how formative this movie was for me, so rewatching it for the first time since 1996 was a blast. John Carpenter knows how to make a movie seem bigger, so I love how this has a homemade feel and a massive scale (paradoxically, his "Apocalypse Trilogy" films don't go full global destruction and exist within a smaller setting). But why Escape from New York is so good is its consistent sense of tone. From Carpenter's synth score to the surprisingly luxurious pace to Dean Cundey's (unsurprisingly) wonderfully dark cinematography. Man, this just kicks so much ass.
But like I said, I didn't remember how good this was. I've been putting off rewatching this because, I don't know, I was worried it would be boring? Part of it is my experience... when I was 11 years old, I saw a trailer for Escape from L.A. and thought "Holy shit, that looks awesome. Mom, will you take me?!" To which she replied, "Have you ever seen the first one?" First one?!? Oh, man, was I pumped. So I rented it, loved it, then went to see the sequel that weekend and still consider it one of the most disappointing theatre-going experiences of my life. I think that sequel tainted my memory for Snake Plissken for nearly a quarter of a century. I kept popping this masterpiece in my dvd player for the first few minutes and falling asleep or getting distracted or something. So I'm glad I finally buckled down and rewatched from the beginning.
If I had to change anything it would be to make Isaac Hayes' villainous Duke a little more of a presence. He kind of shows up late and frankly doesn't do too much. It makes sense... Kurt Russell as the comically badass Snake Plissken doesn't need a big bad, he's fighting the entire prison colony of Manhattan. But it could have been more climactic if The Duke was a real character. That being said, I don't want to change a thing because there's just too much fun to be had here.

Zak liked these reviews