Rebooting Escape From New York

Is Mike McCourt right to quietly optimistic about this upcoming reboot?

I’d kind of forgotten about the supposed remake of John Carpenters’ 1981 dystopian masterpiece Escape From New York; it’s one of my favourite films and I was less than jubilant, when I read it was being remade.

Over the past few years Hollywood has been busy remaking cult Sci-Fi films like Robocop, Total Recall and The Thing (another Carpenter classic), turning these classic features into mediocre films that lack the magic of their predecessors. It’s inevitable then that a remake of Carpenter’s 1981 feature would eventually happen with rumours beginning  in about 2007, when Gerard Butler was initially attached to star.

If you’re unfamiliar with the original, let me fill you in. In the distant, far off future of 1997,  New York has been converted into a maximum security prison, and Snake Plissken has been given 24 hours, to get, retrieve the president who has been capture by the inhabitants and get out. If I’m honest the plot isn’t the film’s strongest aspect, it’s the atmosphere that Carpenter creates that makes this such an iconic piece of filmmaking.

The long tracking shots, minimalist lighting and the synth soundtrack, make everything seem so slow and for lack of a better word; “cool”. Even the films anti-heroic protagonist, Snake Plissken is so apathetic and laid back about everything, for example; there is an excellent little moment where Snake, having been looking for the president for about an hour, now clueless, standing in the middle of a dark street, looks around him and just sits down for a rest.

Despite its low-key cult status, never quite breaking through to the mainstream consciousness, Escape From New York has never really died. It’s had a sequel (sadly), a novelisation, a board game, several comic-book adaptions and a video-game that was in development for years, but never released. In fact the cow’s been milked so much it’s actually kind of surprising that a remake hasn’t come about sooner, but now it looks like it’s happening.

Entertainment website The Wrap has recently released some ‘supposed’ details about this upcoming film. Firstly the screenplay will be written by Neil Cross, one of the acclaimed creators behind gritty-crime series Luther (promising) and secondly that it’ll be a prequel: New York won’t even be a prison like it was in Carpenter’s movie.

Surprisingly though I’m feeling quietly optimistic about this new film, a lot of remakes/reboots/re-adaptions/requels end up as unoriginal pieces of trash that make me want a refund before I’ve even bought my cinema ticket. They rely too much on their original source material and simply retell the same stories, beat for beat with no interesting ideas at all.

Hopefully we’ll see something different from this film (well fingers crossed anyway), the original was a masterpiece that still holds up to repeated viewings today; hopefully this pseudo-prequel will do something similar to the Planet of the Apes reboot: a new story set within a familiar world, with Snake Plissken at the heart of it.

It’s important to remember that these are still early days so we can’t make any solid judgments about this film just yet; hopefully Fox won’t screw this one up, you know like they’ve done so many times before!

Written by Mike McCourt
Written by Mike McCourt

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