Script Review: 'Escape
From New York' Re-Make (IESB/Jul 02/2007) By Stephanie Sanchez
We've got a script review from an IESB reader. You guys know we
don't do script
very often, but, this guy felt like he had something to say, so why the hell
a slow news week. Here you go!
Hey guys, I've had the Escape From New York script in my
greasy paws for
few days and as a die hard Carpenter fan felt like I needed to
say something about it.
report over at AICN
felt there were more things that needed to be out there.
this will get posted and you can "Call me Snake."
I'll be honest. I was prepared to dislike this script. A lot.
That being said, I wont bore anybody with my obviously implied
unabashed esteem for
Carpenter films. I wont go on and on about how I love the original, and how it
part of my childhood.
How as a character, Snake Plissken rates among the all time
action greats. I'll assume
these things. They're cannon and it's a given. Well move on...
So when this stint of Carpenter remakes began happening, I was
just as puzzled as everybody
Not so much at the sheer audacity of it all, but more for reasons pertaining
Why? Why would anybody feel the need to remake these movies? I
mean, special effects
I think most of us agree that they're fine just the way they are. Special effects
to become more and more special as time goes by, but does that mean we have
all of the tried and true, just because they're dated by the precision of their
the case of The Thing its still my opinion that Rob Bottins work holds up
Despite this fact, however, we've seen so-called bad optical work
and latex make up effects
by even shittier CGI and less-than-stellar creative choices when they make
So if it is inevitable that the powers-that-be make an Escape
From New York remake starring
himself, Gerard Butler, let's not have us another The Fog debacle shall
let's aim for Assault on Precinct 13 territory (a movie with weaker
a good remake none the less) and come out cleaner on the other side.
Again, that being said, imagine my surprise after having read the
script. Despite all
this project seems to be heading in the right direction. It's not perfect
mind you, but
does do a lot right. Sure the question why? will always exist. But if we allow ourselves
conundrum aside, we might actually get a good remake based on what I've read.
First and foremost, this is a script that is very respectful to
the source material,
upon and make much of what was so groundbreaking about the original, feel fresh
it delivers on the film's great original premise. Basically, it's all here.
York is a
Security Prison. Terrorists hijack the Presidents plane. Air Force one crash
apocalyptic Manhattan. And of course Snake Plissken has got to bring back the
free world to save his own ass.
It's all here.
Not a thing about that awesome premise has been discarded or
changed in such a way as
the script unrecognizable to an admirer of the original. What has been changed
many of the details. And maybe details is the wrong word for the changes, when
how much has been expounded upon and increased in sheer size when compared
original. And that is both a credit and a detriment depending on how you look at
Ultimately, what writer Ken Nolan has worked hardest at doing is
the aspects that are taken for granted in the original, and has updated it
context we find ourselves living in today.
Look out! There will be spoilers ahead, so if you want to remain
unsullied with respect
best to avert your eyes now!
When the original Escape opens, we were given a very brief
prologue as to how the island
but not much explanation is given as to how the current state of affairs came
with this version.
Here we begin with a very detailed explanation of exactly what
went down globally which
the mightiest city on earth being relegated to nothing more than a radioactive
by a retaining wall that not only keeps the prisoners in, but also keeps
from flooding. It's explained through montage and voice over that this was due
by the effects of global warming, compounded by the detonation of a dirty bomb
within the city.
It's a much more detailed account of the back-story overall. And it's this
the material, which holds true for just about every aspect of the new script. What
throughout the script is the expansion of much of the originals concepts and ideas.
what we are left with is a story that is very large in scale that tries
successfully) to add an air of realism to what were seeing.
What's the same? Snake Plissken. Still the bad ass we know and love. He doesn't
Don't worry, they didn't do anything lame, like get rid of his eye patch. It's
all there as
Hauk. He's the guy that puts Snake in this crap position. He's
still the Commissioner
Force and he still wont call Plissken, Snake. However, here you get the feeling
for Snake a little bit more than his former incarnation. The principal reason
for this is
uncovering of a plot by corrupt government officials, which will leave the President
left for dead.
Rehme, Hauk's right hand man. His role continues to be minor in the proceedings.
New York is still A number one. But here his motivations are different. Here he
to use the President as a bargaining chip to escape New York. Instead he only
the Presidents execution in a gladiatorial game held in Madison Square Garden.
this will, in turn, lead to further turmoil and anarchy in an already miserable
Brain. Does all of The Dukes big thinking. Still a turncoat, but here is given a
significantly from the original. Gone is he and Snakes prior relationship together.
he's been given a son, where he will do almost anything to see again. In Snake,
a way to
off the island and back to his boy.
Romero is still The Dukes right hand man, but here he seems to have been given
than that of the original. Not a big gripe, but in the first film he's a
The Crazies. These guys are one of my favorite things about the original and
more prominent and pronounced place in this film. They play a pivotal part in
and are much more grotesque, well at least how they are described.
What's changed? Well, from the beginning we are
via flashback accounts of what lead to Plissken's
from grace. How he went from one time war hero
disenfranchised criminal badass.
Gone is Ernest Borgnines Cabbie character and the
Girl in Chock Full O'Nuts. Also gone is Adrienne
Barbeau's, Maggie. Instead the Cabbie and Maggie are
by a character that acts as Brains right handman,
scavenging for drugs in a Brinks Armored
Also the Presidents opportunist Secretary of the State, a very
Condoleezza Rice inspired
named Mrs. Clarke and a corrupt General Wilkins will further complicate Hauk's
mission. Throw in a team of Navy Seals that have been dispatched by Wilkins
than bring back the President and you got a powder keg that is ready to go off.
Next the world itself has been adapted to be more relevant with all that is
these days. Instead of Snake being a Cold War anti-hero in those flashbacks I
is now stationed in some unnamed desert country fighting off insurgents.
And it's here I have my first gripe with the script. In trying to make it
seems at time sits
trying too hard and ends up undermining itself. We even find out that what's in
briefcase pertains to an inevitable confrontation with Iran and Syria. What
to do with a piece of material like this is give it an obvious political position
that you can
a million miles away.
Snake is a politically neutral character. He sides with no one but himself and
dear. The movie too, should be like this. It should have its convictions, but
as heavy-handed or obvious about how it stands concerning our current state-of-affairs.
that it entirely does, but it treads dangerously close at times.
However, the biggest change from the original is Snakes
back-story. As I said before
has been adapted for greater relevancy. Here we actually get to see his reason
the military and become an outlaw. We even get to see just how it was he lost
Once again, this something I have a problem with. Namely, part of what makes
is that we don't know that much about him. He is a two-dimensional character in
great anti-heroes like Conan. By giving him a detailed back-story and justifications
motivations that are completely explained, the writer has substantially lessened
edge the character had. Granted, it's not as bad as seeing Leather Face's
how bad that remake sucked!) but it does diminish in my opinion some of what
Snake so cool.
Yeah, we all want to know how the hell he got that eye patch. But that's what
It's that we don't know, and that we desire an answer that the filmmakers have
us. It makes us think.
Besides, honestly, the scripts version of how it all went down is kind of lame.
thought it would be a tad more eventful than what transpires here.
Also a new subplot has been added. A team of Navy Seals has been dispatched to
to the detriment of the operation, further adding to Snake's troubles. As
we learn that Mrs. Clarke and General Wilkins are behind this. It's a new touch,
but as it
now I must say it works quite well.
What works? The general broadening of the stories scale is the most impressive
we see the actual hijacking of Air Force one. We get gigantic battle sequences,
and a very
ass ending that drives the whole affair home. Also, because the writer did such
job with Black Hawk Down, he's added a deliberate military bent to the
again adds to that sense of realism he is trying to accomplish.
The added subplot concerning the corrupt government officials
also works. But most
what works the best is how the script is notable not for what it changes,
is doesn't change. This script works as well as it does, precisely because it stays
source. It doesn't try and reinvent the wheel. What it does seek to do instead
is give the
some thicker tread and better reinforcement. It's not always successful, but most
it manages to get it right and you have to give that credit. What with a project
have such an uphill battle in terms of relevance with the fan base, it's nice to
is taking this seriously.
What doesn't work? I mentioned my distaste for this earlier, how Snake looses
I think it could do without so much of Snakes back-story. Like I said, it looses
characters edge as a result.
Also, I didn't like the new running gag that has replaced the originals I
Put the old one back in there. Or keep them both. Either way, it just seems
was changed for the sake of changing it, which is something this script never
do anywhere else in the story. So, it has the tendency of sticking out if you've
Also, when Snake reveals that he's hidden the Titanium Disk that houses the
has been so keen on preserving in his hallowed out eye socket. It was the
script where I felt a little unnerved. Once again, this pertains to the mystery
character. We don't need to see such an intimate portrayal at times. I know
intuitive, but I feel its the right way to go. Leave that one for us, and
the end well
you for it.
Lastly, and this is just my inner geek coming out, but I really wish the line
Cleef said in
original about kicking Snake outta' the world would've remained. The movie preserves
dialogue from the original (I said it was faithful!), so why wouldn't you steal
great line! Don't throw away such a great one liner if a remake is apparently
So all in all... I cant say I didn't like it. Much to my chagrin what I saw
worry me to the
degree. Still, I can't say that this movie is a necessary one. This film
doesn't need a
but if the movie gods decide that it's happening despite our protests, it's appears
as if it's
in a direction that won't piss off the faithful, or bore the hell out of people
who beg the
why it was such a big deal in the first place.