“Escape from New York” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 24
“You going to kill me, Snake?”
“Not now, I’m too tired. Maybe later.”
I was aware of Kurt Russell’s turn as Snake Plissken just from sheer cultural influence, I assume, but for whatever reason I never actually saw this film – until now.
As usual, one of the highlights of a John Carpenter movie is its music. Carpenter sure loves his heartbeat synths, and while the opening credits were rather weak, there are plenty of other trademark electronic motifs that stood out amongst the action.
I was pleasantly surprised to see such a wide array of supporting cast members – like Ernest Borgnine as a jovial cab driver, Harry Dean Stanton as “Brain” – an ex-partner of Snake’s, and Brain’s buxom girl, Maggie, played by Adrienne Barbeau. Isaac Hayes as the big bad!? Lee Van Cleef as a prison warden? It’s kind of crazy all these folks ended up in a little $7 million sci-fi action dystopian film.
The use of a burned-out St. Louis as a stand-in for New York City as a prison worked with exceptional effect. The debris, fire, and wet streets helped sell the gritty tone.
The special effects were actually pretty decent, too – given the budget and when it was released. I was pleased to find out that James Cameron was actually counted among those on the special effects team – so that explains a lot!
Overall, I enjoyed it – it’s simple, and it uses the in-story timer to push things along, but it’s a fun ride. You can’t help but root for Snake as the anti-hero. It’s a taut script executed well from all angles. Let’s see how it shakes out on my chart.
Escape from New York was at the time of this review at #224 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked #473 among the best films of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
Escape from New York vs. The French Connection
While the famous car chase sequence in The French Connection is famous for good reason, the film’s pace has nothing on Escape from New York.
Escape from New York vs. Inside Out
Pixar has had more hits than misses over the years, and I’d put Inside Out firmly into the hit-camp. Creative, colorful, and clever.
Escape from New York vs. The Man Who Knew Too Much
The Man Who Knew Too Much is a decent Hitchock movie, but not a great Hitchcock movie. Escape wins.
Escape from New York vs. Animal House
I liked Animal House when I watched it for the first time recently, but it didn’t wow me. Comedies rarely do, though. Escape it is.
Escape from New York vs. 2012
Look, I know what you’re thinking. This is a joke, right? Sorry, but not sorry. I’m unapologetic of my unabashed love of wide-scale disaster pictures. John Cusack is one of my favorite actors. 2012 wins.
Escape from New York vs. Coherence
Coherence is a puzzle movie – another genre I am never satiated of. While it’s probably not as visually interesting and fun as Escape from New York, it is a great deal more clever, so it will win the match.
Escape from New York vs. That Thing You Do
Escape from New York vs. Natural Born Killers
I was the right age in the right time when Natural Born Killers was first released, and it spoke to the teenage me very clearly. It surely helped that the soundtrack was curated by Nine Inch Nails’s Trent Reznor.
Escape from New York vs. There Will Be Blood
I’m not big on most westerns, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s style isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, but I appreciated it as a character study, and enjoyed the Jonny Greenwood score.
Escape from New York vs. Octopussy
I’d say that Roger Moore is my Bond. He’s dashing, very British, kind of a jerk, smooth with the ladies, and able to straddle the line of camp and seriousness better than the other actors in the role. Octopussy is one of my favorites of the Moore Bond films.
Escape from New York vs. A Boy and His Dog
A dystopian film-off. I will say A Boy and His Dog is certainly unique, but I think I enjoyed myself more with Escape from New York.
Escape from New York is now ranked #452 out of 1451 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
Last up is Rosemary’s Baby. In the meantime, check out the other films I’ve ranked during the challenge.