John Carpenter's Escape From L.A. [Blu-Ray] John Carpenter

John Carpenter's Escape From L.A. [Blu-Ray] John Carpenter
In the opening scenes of John Carpenter's Escape from L.A. (which I understand was directed by John Carpenter), the President forces Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) to retrieve what IMDb reports is a "stolen doomsday device," but which I reckon the President bought off the rack at MacGuffin Depot. Snake is infected with a pseudo-Hong Kong cocktail that will kill him if he doesn't do the job within ten hours and is then sent to Los Angeles, which, in the far-away year of 2013, has been turned into a deportation centre for America's "undesirables." If this sounds too close to John Carpenter's 1981 film, Escape from New York, would it help if I said that, tonally and stylistically, that film was New York to this one's Los Angeles? Garish, over-the-top and proudly, aggressively tacky, Escape from L.A. is the gritty original's polar opposite, and, much like L.A., it's a complete mess. Carpenter's dystopian future has no visual coherence: at various times, L.A. looks like a half-finished digital landscape, a studio back lot and one of the lesser rides at Universal Studios. As for the script, no one scene has any impact on another. Cut out, say, Snake's encounter with an underground plastic surgery parlour, packed with surgically disfigured freaks straight from a Brazil audition, and you'll lose nothing except an obvious, undercooked bit of social commentary. No character outside of Snake or the President is crucial to the plot ― what, exactly, is Steve Buscemi's function to the narrative (don't say "comedy relief," I won't believe that)? Does Carpenter really have to bring in Pam Grier as a butch transsexual just to find Snake a hang glider? And why the hell are Peter Fonda and Valeria Golino in this movie? No, really, I'm willing to offer a cash reward to anyone who can provide an explanation. Some parts are overwhelmingly boring, like the clumsy, fake-looking action scenes. Other moments are just inexplicable. I guess Snake and Peter Fonda surfing was meant to be funny, but it comes across like that episode of Batman when Batman and the Joker entered a surfing contest, but with less impressive CGI than the '60s show. Escape from L.A. isn't just sloppy storytelling; it's the only film I can think of that's comprised entirely of superfluous scenes. Recently released on Blu-Ray, the crystal clarity doesn't do these special effects any favours. If only there was an option to watch it the way it was meant to be seen: smeary, on partially demagnetized VHS tape. As it is, the extras are limited to a theatrical trailer. (Paramount)