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REMAKE WATCH: ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK - PART TWO
 



 

Lately it has become de rigueur to remake John Carpenter movies . . .

The cult director’s Assault on Precinct 13 was remade by French director Jean-François Richet and more famously (or is that infamously?) Rob Zombie remade Halloween (1978) last year. While it is one’s knee-jerk reaction to shoot down all remakes and “re-imaginings”, the 2005 Assault on Precinct 13 remake was actually superior to the 1976 original in many ways. It boasted better acting, a more complex and involved plot, faster pacing and more expensive production values.

Or at least that’s what it felt like while watching it. The truth is however that Carpenter’s cheap original (stiff acting and all) is actually the one that tends to stick in one’s memory instead. One gets the feeling that any Escape from New York remake will probably “improve” on the original flawed movie in many ways, but suffer the same fate. The original will still be the one held in affection by movie buffs.

What exactly has the appeal of this particular cult movie been? After all, nothing in the original film is particularly original as Roger Ebert noted in his review of the movie back then: “The movie's New York of 1997 would have been more interesting if it were seen as a genuinely different prison society, rather than as a recycled version of The Warriors.”

"Any Escape from New York remake will probably 'improve' on the original flawed movie in many ways. . ."

The answer lies in the film’s antiauthoritarian stance. It is very much a product of director Carpenter’s own counterculture leanings and the cynical times in which it was made. Carpenter apparently wrote the screenplay for the movie as far back as 1976 in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. As he puts it: “The whole feeling of the nation was one of real cynicism about the President.”

The question is whether any remake will rehash this particular sentiment and (more pertinent to the bean counters at New Line) how will modern audiences respond to it? Odds are that any remake will focus on the action side of things instead of the character of Snake Plissken. And who will convincingly step into Kurt Russell’s army boots? Butler was a good choice as few of today’s action movie stars exude that macho swagger Russell managed. Or how about Russell himself? If Harrison Ford can be Indy at 64, then surely Russell can still be Snake Plissken at 57? Jonathan Mostow is a fine craftsman, but has already shown with his Terminator 3 that he can’t exactly fill the shoes of the likes of James Cameron, not to mention John Carpenter. So how about getting director Carpenter himself back again?

Then again, the thing is that Escape from New York has already been remade when one thinks about it as Escape from L.A., its 1996 “sequel” which rehashed the plot and played it all – but for laughs this time round. When one thinks about it, if Escape from New York is to be remade it must be as a “reboot” from scratch.

However if truth be told it is probably best that the whole affair is left languishing in development hell and is never made at all . . .


 



 

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