Wednesday, October 05, 2005

DVD Review - Escape From New York (Special Ed)

”… the definitive version of a classic.”

In the twenty-four years since it was released, John Carpenter’s ‘Escape From New York’ has grown a well-deserved following. Back in 1981, it was a ambitious action story, brought to the big screen with a gob-smacking level of ingenuity, a seriously solid cast (including the likes of Harry Dean Stanton, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Van Cleef and Adrienne Barbeau), and all on a shirt-button budget. It’s dark, dirty, and pulls few punches, earning it weapons-grade cult status.

Manhattan Island has been converted into a self-contained maximum-security prison. Cut off from the mainland US by water, land mined bridges, 30’ walls and shoot-to-kill police patrols. New York City has become a dangerous and lawless hell-hole filled with scavenging murder gangs and misfits where precious petroleum and the lives of the inmates are controlled by ‘The Duke’ (Isaac Hayes, “he’s A number 1”).

Recently convicted former Special Forces operative Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell, in this career-changing and iconically cool role) is about to be locked away for the rest of his life, but he’s offered a pardon if he can rescue the stranded President (Donald Pleasence), from Manhattan Island, in less than twenty-four hours.

As a sizable John Carpenter fan, I’ve always liked ‘Escape From New York’ and this Special Ed version is the icing on the cake. Considering when the movie was made (look out for Snake landing his glider on the top of the Twin Towers), the DVD extras and the revamped audio and video are nothing short of excellent.

The DVD is chock-full of extras, including some good informative and personal directors/actors/producers commentaries, documentaries and a whole Missing Reel, which is the film’s original opening sequence that was cut prior to release, comic books, Snake Plissken montage videos, galleries of production photos and lobby cards, interviews and plenty to keep fans and newcomers glued to their remote control.

This is the definitive version of a classic.

Movie: 4.5 out of 5
Extras: 4 out of 5