Movie Review: Escape from LA

© 1997 Dan Heller

Quick Review: it's enjoyable, and I recommend it. It's definitely a farse and it needs to be taken that way. And if you do, then it's hilarious and loads of fun. But the tongue-in-cheek humor and inside-LA jokes and parodies might not click with everyone.

Synopsis: Snake Pliskin (Kurt Russle) is back again to save the world, reluctantly, by cruising through Los Angeles, trying to find the President's daughter, who has a black box that controls weapons that can shut down the entire world through the sattelite network. Along the way, he runs into quite a few stars and famous LA destinations that could use a little fixing up. Of course, this is all part of the fun. :-)

Escape from LA is identical in plot, and in many cases, in events and characters, to Escape from New York, the original from 1981.

The movie starts (as the original did) by explaining what happened, which sets the mood, stage and tone for the entire movie: In the year 2000, a presidential candidate who protrays the extremist religious right (namely, Buchanan, if you follow politics closely), predicts that a huge earthquake will destroy LA because of how awful it and its people are. Miraculously, the event actually occurs, in a 9.something quake that not only destroys the city, but causes it to separate from the mainland. (The special effects of this scene are amazing -- you'll love it. :-) This, of course, causes the candidate to be elected president, who converts the LA island to a Devil's Island, of sorts, where anyone who breaks "morality laws" are cast out to live there forever.

During all of this, there are both subtle and not-so-subtle quips and jabs, too numerous to remember all of them. Some of the more obvious ones are similar to those found in Airplane movies, but the less subtle ones really help carry the darker side of the movie, which is also supported by good special effects (but nothing you haven't seen before) and reasonable (but not all that surprising) plot twists.

It's a shoot-em-up farse, where the humor keeps you from paying attention to logic or non-sequitur problems, and you don't mind.

For me, personally, I loved the sets -- seeing the famous LA places in shambles is as fun (but not as impressive) as the scenes in Independence Day where the aliens blow up major cities. There is also an underwater scene, which is quite impressive, showing the higways and certain landmarks that are now underwater from the earthquake.
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