Volume 1, Number 2 -- September, 1996

Escape From L.A.: Run Away! Run Away!

Carpenter and Russell are back! And more confused than ever!

Movie Review by: AML

 I would like to title/re-title the Nineties as "The Re-Run Decade." This title is not as accurate as I would like it to be, but it's a little easier to say than, "The Decade of Re-Hashing Old Themes Just to Make Money and Fill Space." Among the things that are back, not with a vengeance, but with a beer belly, are The Sex Pistols, parts of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd in my opinion, and including the plethora of other re-unions that are occurring. In regards, to cinematic butcheries of the past, we have been given The Brady Bunch (two movies, actually), Flipper, The Beverly Hill Billies, Mission Impossible, The Adams Family (two or three of them?), The Flintstones, and, again, others which I cannot recall at this time. But even so, I was still kinda surprised to see Escape From Los Angeles released.

 Even though I had resisted, at times easily, most of the list of re-unions/re-hashes, I did want to see this movie. Mistake me not, however, for some fanatic of John Carpenter. I didn't remember much of the original Escape From New York when I went to see this one and only Carpenter's more interesting, better-known films remain in my memory. But something like Escape From Los Angeles is such an obvious ploy for self-satire and "campiness' that it becomes interesting just on that level. And such movies have an intrinsic value of a different nature than the Jane Campion films of the world (and I am curious how she'll handle old Hank James' Portrait of a Lady).

 PROPER CINEMATIC MOOD TO ENJOY AS WELL AS CRITIQUE A FILM OF THIS CALIBER: Drunk, very. Now, I ask you to take this advise because I went into this venture sober (I figured it would be useful if I could remember the movie I was supposed to critique), and I KNOW that if I were properly inebriated I would have fewer complaints. But, damn it, I have tons of problems with this flick and I've got the keyboard to rapid fire them with.

 Bluntly, Escape From LA is the ultimate of sequels: It rips itself off. It makes no attempt, whatsoever, to create any new plot or storyline. It makes one wonder how much real thought (or beer) went into writing this movie. It's the exact same story as it's predecessor. But, we will need to make some conversions for the change in location and the time difference. Let's exchange Snake's beat-up brown leather jacket in favor of a slick black leather trench coat. Instead of having some gory, pugilist battle with a big, bald WrestleMania participant (which wouldn't really be PC nowadays), we'll have a hoop shooting game against time. The similarities are constant (remember, this is a damn good rip-off), but the alterations are there as well, all carefully chosen to appeal to the modern audience. But the movie just isn't campy enough. Again, I have no problem with self-satire, but I do believe that you still have to go the distance. I just got the feeling that when they were putting this thing together, they followed the cinema formulas and left it at that. This, I have a problem with.

 My friends and those of you who are actually reading my column, ask not if I had, for it was done: I followed up this excursion with renting and watching the original film. And such a follow up only makes you realize how bad the sequel really is. If you haven't seen the original yet, it's not my responsibility to catch you up on your pop culture literacy. Go. Go now and improve yourself, not with those silly self-help tapes and such, but by deeply immersing yourself in your great country and the entertainment that it offers. See the original Escape From New York (and if you've seen it already, it's always fun to watch again) and save the sequel for the cheap theaters and a good buzz.

 POSTSCRIPT: During this more recent movie bout, I originally planned a double-bill of sequels, the other sequel being Tremors, Aftershocks. Unfortunately, like Escape from L.A., it does the original no justice. Unlike Escape from L.A., there's no redeeming features to this film at all. That's all that needs to be said about this film.

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