Justin Purwitsky’s review published on Letterboxd:
I love Escape From New York. I love John Carpenter. I love Kurt Russell. I love Carpenter and Russell together, what a team. In late '95 or early '96 when I first heard that Snake Plisken was returning to big screens I couldn't of been more excited. Not only was Snake back but Carpenter was directing as well.
So run to the theatre on opening night I did. My friend and I were ready for a great time at the movies. Afterwards we walked out in silence. I said 'What did you think?' He shrugged his shoulders and said 'It wasn't very good.' He asked me and I said 'I liked it'. I wanted to like it, I wanted to give it more than it deserved and I distinctly remember actually liking the film and the only thing I did not like was the obvious blue screen hang gliding ending.
So today I got to watch it again. This time I watched it not long after the original and after 16 other Carpenter films. I was hoping it would be better than I remember and due for a reevaluation by me and the general public and critics a la Prince of Darkness and The Thing.
Sadly, and I mean very very very sadly, it was even worse than I remember. Sure it got it's moments like the cool if derivative ending, some nice visuals, Kurt Russell being Snake and being awesome, Steve Buscemi, Bruce Campbell and Peter Fonda but the film is plagued with problems.
To begin with it's completely unoriginal. They steal liberally from New York story wise. They steal to much from the plot and story from that film. Did Snake really need to break into a new prison colony and did he really have to have a sort of nemesis so much like the last film and did it really have to be an 'Escape From' film? It could of been another Snake Plisken adventire. It could of been called Snake Plisken in (insert witty title here).
Then there is the over the top story which originally I didn't mind so much. This time though, after watching the amazing classic original this one just felt like overkill and was a little overwrought. And some of the special effects were laughable; so laughable it takes you out of the moment and the film which is never a good thing. The surfing scene is so so bad it comes close to being one of the worst looking scenes ever in a movie (I'm not sure which is the worst, it would take a lot of thinking and research, but off the top of my head it would have to be the surfing scene in Die Another Day).
There are other terrible looking scenes like the aforementioned hang gliding scene and overall the whole film does not feel like this L.A. could be real, while the New York of Escape From New York sure as hell did. And finally there is the music which is fun to hear the old themes but as a whole it is nowhere as good as the classic awesome score from New York.
In 1996 I tried convincing myself that this was a good movie. I tried so hard that I think I did convince myself. Watching it again I can admit I was wrong and it's so sad that it's not very good. I mean it does have it's moments but as a whole it is a very disappointing follow up to an amazing classic. Russell gives it his all and the rest of the cast is all game but the rest of the film feels like a by the numbers, unoriginal been there done that kind of production.
Even though its not very good it's nice to see Snake back on the big (or small) screen. After all, I thought he was dead...