The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Metro Goldwyn Mayer- 1981
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 99 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Ernest Borgnine, Issac Hayes, Tom Atkins, Harry Dean Stanton, Adriene Barbeau
Directed by: John Carpenter
Music by: John Carpenter & Alan Harworth
Written by: John Carpenter & Nick Castle
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 03, 2010
"The world's greatest leader is a hostage in the most dangerous place on Earth. Now only the deadliest man alive can save him."
A thrilling landmark film that jolts along at a breakneck pace, Escape From New York leapt to cult status with high-octane action, edge-of-your-seat suspense and a mind-blowing vision of a lone warrior battling his way out of a post-apocalyptic Manhattan! Hailed as "stylish and scary" (Los Angeles Times), "dark and dangerous" (Newsweek) and "gloriously...fun" (Tyler Morning Telegraph), this fast-paced and furiously entertaining thriller grabs you by the throat and won't let go! In a world ravaged by crime, the entire island of Manhattan has been converted to a walled prison where brutal prisoners roam. But when the U.S. President crash-lands inside, only one man can bring him back: notorious outlaw and former Special Forces war hero Snake Plissken . But time is short: in 24 hours, an explosive device implanted in his neck will end Snake's mission and his life unless he succeeds!
My Take:Just so you know where I am coming from, I am a huge Carpenter fan. 'They Live', 'The Thing' and 'Halloween' are a few of my favorite movies. For me, 'Escape From New York' is one of those films that to this day, resonated better in theory than when I watch it. I bought into it's cult-classic hype, re-visiting multiple times, always hoping I would be blown away and see what others supposedly see in it. Well yet again, I didn't.
I cant say more about the premise of this film than is in the above synopsis. I will sum up my feelings, as I assume most everyone reading this has seen 'Escape From New York'. Set in the future, the year is 1997. If that doesn't date the film, I don't know what will! Manhattan Island is now a maximum-security prison and has been since 1988. They were right with that prediction, as my in-laws live in NY and when there, I really need to escape from New York as well!
The films major fault is its lack of scale. I know that sounds weird, as it attempts to recreate (or is it create?) a post-apocalyptic NYC as a prison, and does a decent job, almost making the location a character in and of itself. It just lacks action. I really wanted more balls-to-the-wall action. Everything was lined up for a huge explosions, fights and all out insanity (after all, we are on an island filled with and run by convicts), but it never delivers. It also never fully delivers with its character development. If both of these aspects were little more realized, 'Escape From New York' would have easily excelled to the next level.
What 'Escape From New York' gets right is its creation of one of, if not the best anti-hero's in cinematic history. Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken is brilliant! This guy as a complete jerk. He is a convicted felon, a tough guy you should hate; He is completely arrogant and almost soul-less. Somehow we love him and root him on...maybe it's his great lines and straight faced wise-cracking? The character, look (the iconic eye patch) and just about everything about Snake is perfect for its time and this movie. Sadly the film fails such a great character as Snake by never giving him a villain or obstacle (besides the ticking clock) that is dark or threatening enough to be a worthy adversary. Even with its great supporting cast (Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Ernest Borgnine, Issac Hayes, Tom Atkins, Harry Dean Stanton and Adriene Barbeau) the movie feels thin and is frankly a bit slow. On the upside, 'Escape From New York' is cool enough to have a bit cult status to it, especially its man character of Snake and its premise which still feels fresh almost 30 years later.
Rated R for Nudity, disturbing images, language and brief sexuality.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
'Escape From New York comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 36 Mbps and DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.
Fox/MGM's Blu-ray release of 'Escape From New York is far superior to previous DVD incarnations as well as the UK Blu-ray release from Optimum Home Entertainment, which I happen to have but never watched until this review. This is far from reference video, soft at times and a bit noisy as well, but it looks better than it ever has on home video. On a good note there are times where it's high resolution shows of details that you have never seen in the film. Set mostly in the dark and at night, blacks levels are a bit inconsistent. Going from inky with nice details to a bit crushed. I believe most of the issues are inherent with the cinematography more than the encode. Colors are nice and even in comparison the the UK Blu-ray, not over or under-saturated and they look real, especially in the scenes in the beginning with Snake and Hauk (Lee Van Cleef).
The DTS-HD MA track is in the same boat as the video. It is the best it has been, but the source seems to have left a bit to be desired. Especially in dynamics. Gunfire, sound effects and surround channels are a bit underwhelming. This is a front sound-stage heavy mix, with a nice wide spread. Dialogue was a bit low throughout the film, but never completely swallowed. I just wished this mix had a bigger scope or range. The good news is there were enough times where the effect channels do pull you in, and the sound-stage does open up nicely. A big leap above the DVD audio just nothing thats going to blow your mind and completely rock your room..
- DVD Disc
'Escape From New York' looks and sounds the best it has on home video. Its video quality surpasses the UK Blu-ray release from Optimum Home Entertainment that I happen to have a copy of. My recommendation is that if you can handle a release with no special features, well, besides the dvd copy (which will come in handy on a road trip with your 5 year old), and you are a fan of the film, then the Blu-ray is worth a purchase. If you have yet to see 'Escape From New York', I strongly suggest a rental first. Oh and one last piece of advice. Whatever you do, skip the sequel, 1996's 'Escape from L.A.', it was terrible!
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS35 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Custom 1.3 Gain 128" 2.37:1 CinemaScope Screen
Pioneer SC27 Receiver (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triangle Zerius Speakers (7.1)
SVS PC13-Ultra Subwoofer