Hops and Box Office Flops: ‘ESCAPE FROM L.A. – Tsunamis, Hang-Gliders, and a Whole Lot of Bad CGI’
The 1990s were not kind to the legendary John Carpenter. Case-in-point: 1996’s Escape from L.A.—the long-gestating sequel to Carpenter’s 1981 cult classic Escape from New York. L.A., like its predecessor, paints a grisly picture of future America. Los Angeles, which had devolved into a wasteland rife with crime, has been separated from the rest of the United States because of a massive earthquake.
Marooned on its own, it would be turned into a penal colony for all those deported for violating the harsh laws of America’s oppressive theocratic regime. Its basis is not devoid of interesting ideas or even predictive social relevance. It’s the execution of those ideas that is lacking.
L.A. is everything a sequel is meant to be. Its scope is grander, its budget is bigger, and it is not shy about capitalizing on the nostalgia held by fans of the franchise. Those things, though, are to its detriment.
For a film that cost $50 million dollars to produce—nearly 10 times more than New York‘s $6 million—you’d be hard pressed to identify where that money went. L.A. is rife with poorly designed visual effects—often so hokey that they take you out of the experience—and its central narrative doesn’t just tread on the familiar, it trounces it. In nearly every way, L.A. is the same movie as New York.
In knowing that, its hard to ignore how it fails to live up to its vastly superior prequel in an meaningful way. It never does enough to set itself apart, either.
Its failure financially—earning just over $25 million on that ballooned cost—is certainly disappointing, but that pales in comparison to the sting of it wasting the opportunity to ingratiate the incredible character of Snake Plissken to a new generation.
But, hey, it’s surprising enough that it even got made in the first place. So sit back, hang ten with a Surfari IPA from Pizza Port Brewing Co., and dust off those eye-patches. I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt. Cash, and Chumpzilla are launching half-court shots and catching sick post-apocalyptic tsunami waves!
This Week’s Segments:
- Introduction/Plot Breakdown – Before covering the laughably derivative plot to this film, we discuss how it landed on the pod in the first place. (00:00)
- Interesting Facts and Name the Movie to Feature this Song – After talking about some notable facts, we dive into a brand new challenge! I task Capt. Cash and Chumpzilla with naming the movie that a song was either prominently featured in or specifically written for. This was a legitimate thing in the 80s/90s, and this film was no exception, as it features the White Zombie track The One. (52:29)
- Recommendations and the “Shit Movie Championship” Showdown – We offer our picks for the week. Then, we have our first official “Shit Movie Championship” showdown, pitting Cutthroat Island against Battlefield Earth. Who will emerge as the pod’s grand champion of awful cinema? Next up: Speed 2: Cruise Control! (1:11:49)