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