PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Escape from L.A. (1996)

Escape from L.A. (1996)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 10-Aug-2001

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 96:33 (Case: 101)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:23) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Carpenter

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Kurt Russell
Stacy Keach
Steve Buscemi
Peter Fonda
George Corraface
Cliff Robertson
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $39.95 Music Shirley Walker
John Carpenter

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Greek
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    If I remember correctly, it was my eighteenth birthday when I went to see Escape From L.A., and it was nice to see something on that day which flew right in the face of political correctness just as I flew in the face of the assumption that children are diminished human beings when I was a child. Again, with an American media that was very much in the grip of fanatics like Pat Robertson, a concerted but subtle effort was made to diminish the impact of this film when it hit the silver screens. Yes, I am aware that almost everything which happens in Escape From L.A. also happens in pretty similar ways during Escape From New York, but just as the latter came at a time when Americans needed to be reminded of what democracy really meant, the same can be said of the former.

    This sequel begins with a more extensive and detailed description of how the world came to be in the state that is depicted in the film, which I won't ruin except to say that a series of events has led to the election of a new President in the year 2000, one who is given a lifetime term of office. This President, played with a certain kind of schoolteacher menace by Cliff Robertson, basically trashes the rights that Americans currently take for granted and issues a new directive. Prior to this man's election as President, the city of Los Angeles is separated from America by a massive earthquake, just as this candidate had predicted in his rantings. Of course, the fact that Los Angeles lies more or less directly on the San Andreas fault line never enters into it, this is American fanaticism at its peak, after all. Anyway, after the events between the rescue of the President in Escape From New York and the present are explained with surgical indifference by Kathleen Blanchard, we proceed into the year 2013.

    Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), or P*ss-Can as my ma likes to say, has just been captured in United States territory and charged with gunfighting for profit. He is brought to the Los Angeles deportation centre, where he is given a rather interesting briefing by the President and two of his cronies. It seems that the President's daughter, Utopia (A.J. Langer) has decided to rebel against her father's "corrupt theocracy", as she so rightly puts it, by hijacking Air Force Three and making off with an electronic device. Said device has the power to control a ring of satellites that are orbiting the planet, and if the right code is input to their control system, the entire world could be without power. Utopia is shacked up with some rather nice figures like Cuervo Jones (George Corraface) and Map To The Stars Eddie (Steve Buscemi), who want to use the device for their own ends. The question is not whether Plissken can complete his mission and retrieve the doomsday device, but rather whether his bosses will want him to come back in one piece.

    Okay, so it's not the greatest piece of filmmaking I've ever seen, but it is a rollicking good ride in which a lot of much-needed pot shots at the Fred Niles of the world are thrown in for good measure. It is interesting to note that the costume worn by Kurt Russell at the beginning of Escape From L.A. and the one he wore in Escape From New York are one and the same - it still fit him after a period of fifteen years. Talk about keeping in shape. All in all, this is the kind of film that will divide people into two distinct camps, with one attacking it for its lack of originality compared to its predecessor, while another praises it for showing that the original is still as relevant today as it was in the dawn of the Very Hazy System. Myself, I just say that Escape From L.A. is a fun ride that keeps the viewer entertained without asking too much of their senses, although there is a small amount of meaning behind the words if you want to dig deep enough.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in the proper aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. This is another film where only the intended aspect ratio will suffice, with numerous shots in the film having a dynamic look which the great Sergio Leone would have been proud of.

    The sharpness of this transfer is excellent, with plenty of fine detail on display throughout the film, although objects that are distant to the camera do appear to be slightly out of focus at times. During the sequence when Kurt Russell is going through his arsenal, you can see small details in the weaponry that really are lost on other formats. The shadow detail of this film is also very good, although not as brilliant as one would normally expect from films of this vintage. Suffice it to say that everything the director wants you to see is perfectly visible, and all else is not. There is no low-level noise to spoil the picture.

    The colour palette in this film is a strange beast, with a series of clashing environments and costumes where one character will be brightly dressed while our main protagonist is decked out in clothes so black that he seems to be swallowing the light. The transfer captures this colour scheme without missing a beat or showing any undue artefacts, which is always impressive in my view.

    MPEG artefacts are not a problem in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts, on the other hand, are a moderate problem here, especially early on in the film. The deportation centre in particular consists of a lot of grilles and other objects with hard lines in them, and these shimmer quite noticeably whenever the camera is in motion. While this problem is not nearly as pronounced as it was in other Paramount films with this kind of set design, Event Horizon being a good example, it is at least as noticeable when present. Film artefacts were also more numerous than I would like for a film of this age, with numerous white marks found all over the picture with a certain persistent quality that you'd expect of a much older film. By far, this was the most distressing problem, because this film is an extremely dark one, and any white marks on the picture are going to stick out like Snake Plissken in a hippie commune. There also seemed to be a lot of dirt on the picture during the brighter moments of the film, but I can let this pass because such moments are few and far between.

    The English subtitles are reasonably accurate to the spoken dialogue as far as fidelity goes, but they are only of limited use to Hearing Impaired viewers due to the lack of any sound effect notation. This still makes them a damned sight better than the ones on Virtuosity, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

    This disc makes use of the RSDL format. The layer change takes place at 52:23, with the resultant pause being somewhat noticeable, but not overly distracting.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are a total of four soundtracks on this DVD, all of them in Dolby Digital 5.1 with the higher bitrate of 448 kilobits per second, which is really appreciated during scenes that make heavy use of music and other such ambient effects. In order, we have soundtracks in English, French, Italian, and Spanish, and I sampled them all except for the French dub. I only listened to the original English dialogue from beginning to end, sampling the Spanish and Italian dubs for the purpose of curiosity. There are no major differences in the fidelity of the sound effects in the dubbed soundtracks.

    The dialogue is mostly clear and easy to understand, except for one small problem: Kurt Russell speaks extremely quietly throughout this film, which is in keeping with the design of his character. During scenes where there is only mild ambient sound in the background, this is not such a problem, but during some of the sequences in the deportation centre, it can get a little difficult to understand what he is saying. There were no discernable problems with audio sync.

    The music in this film can be divided into two parts: the score music by Shirley Walker and John Carpenter, and some contemporary numbers by various musicians, the only two I noticed who are worthy of calling themselves that being Tori Amos and the Butthole Surfers. The contemporary numbers seem really out of place in this film, with Tori Amos' Professional Widow breaking out during Kurt Russell's entry in an L.A. hotel and ruining what could have been a much more powerful moment with some actual scoring. Nonetheless, the score music does an excellent job of supporting the moments of the film where it is present, and one cannot ask for much more than that.

    The surround channels are used in moderation, mostly to support gunshots and music, with most of the sound seemingly confined to the front of the field. In spite of this, the soundtrack has a wide, open feel to it that keeps the film interesting on more than just a visual level. There are not really that many effects that would be suitable for heavy surround use in this film, anyway, so part of the confined feel in the sound stage can be put down to artistic intent. This is not a disc one would use to demonstrate the capabilities of their sound system.

    The subwoofer was also used moderately to support gunfire, explosions, and the lower frequencies of the music. While it was not worked especially hard, it did its work without making itself conspicuous.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu is based around the same still that was used for the cover artwork. It is 16x9 Enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer

    This eighty-five second theatrical trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio. Do not watch it before you see the film, or you'll have a major giggle from having said film ruined for you.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

   Make mine a Region 4 disc, please.


    Escape From L.A. was a bold effort to recapture some of the dissidence and magic that made its predecessor into a flawed masterpiece, but it is ultimately bogged down by its reuse of plot elements. Still, the numerous pokes at American culture, and Los Angeles culture in particular, keep this film from being a total loss, while the obvious parody of theocrats in general was quite timely. In other words, this film is very much a mixed bag, just like the disc it is presented on.

    The video transfer is of a better standard than you'd expect from VHS, but it could have been a lot better, too.

    The audio transfer is good, but the lack of moments where the surrounds are used to really draw the viewer in are a slight disappointment.

    There are limited extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Monday, November 12, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

Other Reviews
Michael D's Region 4 DVD Info Page - Jeff M (Bio)
GetCarter - Adam D