Plot: What’s it about?
Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) was once known as a war hero, but now he is known as the most dangerous criminal in existence. But when the heat hits the coals, this feared criminal seems to be the United States government’s best chance to recover some very vital elements. You see, since the crime rates have skyrocketed in the U.S., officials have turned New York into one large prison, where they send all the worst criminal element. This means most of them are killed by other prisoners and in short, is cheaper and more effective than traditional prison systems. This seems to work well enough, but when a freak accident happens, it seems as though no one can survive the massive prison to recover some items. The president (Donald Pleasance) was flying over the city when a terrorist attack forces him to eject, which leaves him and some important documents within the limits of this prison. And since Snake is the only man tough enough to venture into New York, they ask for his help in exchange for his freedom. But since Snake has an explosive device implanted within his body by them, it seems the choice was pretty easy to make. Can Snake overcome the dangers of New York to track down the goods and return to collect his freedom?
I am very pleased to own this film on our beloved format, but I can’t help but feel a new edition lies in the future. As many of you know, the laserdisc for Escape From New York contains some nice supplements, but those elements were excluded from this release. I am sure that time and money were factors in this movie only edition, but I still can’t say I understand why those bonus materials didn’t make the cut here. But despite the lack of extras, this disc is a welcome release and the new anamorphic transfer is more than worth the cash. I’d love to have seen the extras ported over, but I won’t cry too much over spilt milk. This is one of my personal favorite flicks of all time and even the sequel wasn’t up to task, the shine isn’t dulled in the least on the original classic. This one is loaded with intense action, memorable characters, and some terrific catch phrases, what more can you ask for? Kurt Russell is outstanding as Snake, while the supporting cast and direction of John Carpenter are also in fine form. I highly recommend this movie to all those interested, while fans will want to pick up this disc for the new & improved transfer. But whether you choose to rent or purchase, this disc is more than worth a look.
Snake Plissken is one of the coolest characters in the history of cinema, which means Kurt Russell turns in one blockbuster performance. I think this is Russell’s best work of his career and while his reprise of the role in Escape From L.A. was a little lackluster, it was still kinda cool to see him again. Russell seems so natural and relaxed within this role, it is never a doubt that he is Snake while the film rolls. This is vital to the film of course, as Snake is the money man and central to the entire scheme of the movie. You can also see Russell in such films as Overboard, Escape From L.A., Executive Decision, Tombstone, Backdraft, The Thing, and Used Cars. But Russell is just one piece of the larger puzzle here, as the supporting cast also comes up big. Some of the performers include Donald Pleasance (Halloween), Harry Dean Stanton (Repo Man, The Green Mile), Isaac Hayes (Reindeer Games, Tv’s South Park), Ernest Borgnine (Baseketball, Gattaca), Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing, Back to School), and Lee Van Cleef (High Noon). The director of Escape From New York is the great John Carpenter, who also helmed such films as Halloween, The Fog, Vampires, They Live, The Thing, and Assault On Precinct 13.
Video: How does it look?
Escape From New York is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame version included on the disc’s flip side. This new transfer looks very clean and smooth, a vast improvement over previous editions, to be sure. I saw minimal debris and marks on the source print, while the transfer shows no signs of compression flaws. I did see some minor instances of grain present, but these were small and didn’t distract from the film in the least. The colors look bold and free from smears, while the contrast is steady, with well balanced black levels at all times. This is a fine visual presentation, one that will please fans of the film to no end.
Audio: How does it sound?
I wish this disc had a 5.1 remix included, but the stereo surround track that’s present isn’t too bad in the end. The music in this flick rocks, so I am glad it sounds clean and pretty active in this mix. it adds a lot to the mood and tone of the film, so it is important that is comes across so well. The sound effects and dialogue also sound very good here, no real problems to discuss. The track has a very clean overall sound, no harshness or hiss is evident at all. This disc also includes English captions and subtitles in French & Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains the film’s theatrical trailer.