Welcome To The Human Race – Escape From L.A.

2 10 2013

Escape From L.A. (Paramount Pictures - 1996)

How long can you leave it until it is too long to produce a sequel? 10 Years is a bit too long in my opinion in the case that you are trying to make another film in the hope of continuing a series. Maybe the best thing to do would be to leave it and either do something else or make a reboot. In 1976 when the Fantastic King Kong remake was released, a sequel began development, but it was not released until 1986 and turned out to be a disaster (0% on Rotten Tomatoes). While the time relation may not affect a film’s performance, apart from having to remind the audience what was released 10 years previously, but it means that the film can suffer from consistent development issues. Another good example of this is the once long-awaited sequel to John Carpenter’s Classic Film; Escape from New York, Escape from L.A. which was released 15 years after New York.

Escape from New York (AVCO Embassy Pictures - 1981)

I first saw Escape from New York in the early 2000’s, and fell in love with it. I loved the dystopian setting of New York as a Giant Prison. The look of it all was amazing and believable, the soundtrack was beautifully crafted and the cast was fantastic. When I was watching it for the first time I was first told of a sequel film called Escape from L.A. but I did not know much about it at the time and it was not until about 2007/2008 that I first saw it. My first impressions of it were good, I liked it, but since then my feelings of the film have been “oh dear” and have constantly decreased every time I’ve seen it since.

LA1

The film begins much in the same way as New York, a little brief introduction of what has happened in the world. The Crime rate in the USA goes up dramatically and Los Angeles island sufferers its worst Earthquake to date, with waterways flooding the area and L.A. becomes an island. A presidential candidate (Cliff Robertson) who seemingly predicts this is made President for Life and brings in new Moral Laws stating that anyone who does not abide with them will be sent to Los Angeles island which has now been surrounded by a containment wall (except for the Pacific side of it bizarrely). In 2013 a Peruvian revolutionary called Cuervo Jones (Georges Corraface) seduces the president’s daughter Utopia (A. J. Langer) and gets her to steal a super weapon. She escapes to L.A. to give it to Jones. Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is captured once again for a series of crimes and is to be deported to L.A. While there he meets the President, Prison Commander Malloy (Stacy Keach) and his assistant Brazen (Michelle Forbes) who offer him a deal. He unwillingly takes it thanks to a disease planted inside him and he travels by Sub to Los Angeles Island.

LA2

Upon arrival he sees what has happened to L.A. and interacts with some of its residents including a man named Pipeline (Peter Fonda). He spots a parade with Cuervo and tries to get him, but fails. He meets Map to the Stars Eddie (Steve Buscemi) who volunteers to show Snake around. Snake does not take up his offer and goes into Beverley Hills. There he finds a twisted area and hides in the bushes with a girl named Taslima (Valeria Golino), they are then both captured and find themselves in a room full of ugly people. It turns out that the people require constant body transplants to survive and the surgeon general (Bruce Campbell) plans to use Snake and Taslima next. Snake manages to escape and frees Taslima who takes Snake through the underground sewers near to Cuervo’s base. Taslima decides to go with snake only to be killed minutes later. Snake is captured by Eddie who takes him to Cuervo who sends a tape to the president showing him the device. Cuervo then hosts an event at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum where he makes Snake play Basketball. Annoyingly Snake succeeds and escapes, meeting, and then surfing with Pipeline. Snake then meets up with gang leader and old friend Carjack Malone (Pam Grier) who helps him to attack Cuervo who has taken up residence at Disneyland. Snake successfully retrieves the device but on the way back to the mainland with Utopia his helicopter is hit and he crashes.

LA4

Snake walks out of the crash only to be surrounded by guards. Utopia is captured with the device and is sent to the electric chair. The virus turns out to be nothing more than the flu and Snake is shot. However he seemingly survives when it turns out that he is using a Hologram device given to him earlier. He shows that he has the real device, and types in the world code shutting down all electrical systems on the planet. He then finds a packet of cigarettes, has one before turning to the camera and saying “Welcome to the human race”.

The film, while being a sequel to one of my top favourite films and has some nice moments in it, it is generally, cheesy, corny……….bad. The film suffers from the CGI revolution of the period with it mostly appearing to be in front of early blue screen effects. When New York was done before, these kind of effects weren’t regularly available and so was shot on location, however; New York as a result looked better than L.A. For pretty much the entire film, the effects are some of the worst generated images to date and while they are acceptable compared to most films, it looks like the film was made on the cheap despite its budget of 25 Million Dollars.

The film does have some redeeming qualities, the soundtrack while using an updated version of the original theme, has some nice pieces with spy style pieces and some with sounds almost in a rock sense to old western themes, particularly Snake’s theme. The film also has bits that New York did not do such as a thriving outlaw culture in the cities remains and it is nice to see that.

Kurt Russell is amazing as Snake Plissken; I love the character so much. He is the ultimate ant-hero as he really only cares for himself. He is a well-trained mercenary soldier as shown by the awards he has been given. But for the most part he appears to have a cold exterior. There is somewhat of a caring side to him though as there is the odd occasion where he feels for someone, in this case, only very briefly though, Taslima.

Snake Plissken

But for all the good things there are a lot of bad ones including the idea that Plissken is some kind of ultimate hero with him having skills that appear to be superhuman with talents including amazing basketball skills, speed and Surfing. While I still love the character I do feel that this film does not really help in any beneficial way to his character at all and we should only remember him for New York only and in no way L.A.

LA3

While pretty much the rest of cast are just unnoticeable for the most part, there are a few exceptions. Brazen and Malloy have a nice presence about them which is neither cold nor warm and offer an anchor to the film. This is pretty much the same for Pipeline too if for only very briefly.

Malloy, Pipeline and Brazen

But for me, I really like the character of Taslima. She had this nice presence about her. She had a nice look with a bizarre haircut, she had this calming; possibly reassuring voice and she wore this great Leather Jacket. For all the possible persona of being tough, she has a redeeming caring quality about her, you care about her a lot. When she begins to have feelings for Snake, in many a sense you want her to say in the film or (for several reasons) change angle and follow her. When Snake and Taslima split, you wish they don’t but then she follows him before briefly getting shot. That annoys me, greatly annoys me. Out of the top three best things about this film, her appearance is one of them. You feel sad for her death, but annoyed too as you like this character and she gets killed off. Whose Idea was it for one of the best things about the film to get shot? Why? Why kill off this brilliant character. Seriously, Why? I can keep going like this for a while now, I am mad while writing this.

Taslima

Escape from L.A. does have some good points about it. It has Snake Plissken and very briefly Taslima. It has things New York did not do and some enjoyable moments while also having a great last line. But it is mostly bad, I can’t stress that enough. Not just for the death of Taslima, but other points too. There are only a few points about this film I would recommend. While the beginning, ending and Taslima parts of the film are great, for the most part I would tell you to Fast Forward. In short, Escape from L.A. is…………………………………………..you know what, I have had enough of this film, forget it. Let’s just hope that the planned remake of Escape from New York is better than this.

GENEPOOL


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