• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Escape From New York

TITLE: Escape FromNew York

YEAR: 1981

GENRE: Science Fiction

It is always interesting to discover the inspiration of certain films. In 1974 influential director John Carpenter was motivated by the Watergate scandal in the news. Cynicism against the President of the United States was at an all-time high, and Carpenter knew that he needed to use that inspiration to create a film that captured that anger and disappointment of the American people. This was the core for the creation of one of the most memorable science fiction films of the 1980’s, the action film Escape From New York. Escape From New York is an exciting and entertaining science fiction epic filled with non-stop action.

It is 1997, and Manhattan island has been turned into a maximum security prison to house the worst of the worst criminals in the country during a multi-national war. The President of the United States (played by Donald Pleasence) flies over the island and Air Force One is shot down and crashes within the confines of the penitentiary. The prisoners take the inept President hostage, and the Secret Service does not want to waste one of their own to save him. As a result they send former mercenary and small-time hoodlum Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) on a glider over to the island to find the President and get him out ofManhattan safely in exchange for Plissken’s freedom. Upon landing, Snake discovers that unique cultures has risen within the ruins including a gang led by The Duke (Isaac Hayes) which has the President in their custody. Assisted by a group of eccentrics including all-knowing The Brain (Harry Dean Stanton), Brain’s girlfriend Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau), and taxi driving Cabbie (Ernest Borgnine), Snake weaves his way through the destroyed, graffiti-covered streets to find the imprisoned leader.

If one can get past the insane premise that some of the most valuable real estate on the planet is turned into a lockup then the viewer will discover that Escape From New York is one of the best shoot-em-ups of the 1980’s. Escape From New York is filled with epic action scenes, especially when Russell ends up fighting professional wrestler and eternally ugly man Ox Baker in a fight to the death in a boxing ring. Borgnine gives one of the most memorable performances in his career as the cab driver who knows the city and its underground culture like the back of his hand, and Stanton is excellent as the cerebral, book reading loner who claims the New York Public Library as his personal cell. The big surprise as an actor is soul crooner Hayes as the lead gangster of the punk rock-inspired hoodlums, and he is hammy at times but does an admirable job in his menacing role. The story itself is fast-paced and fun, and the film is well made especially considering the limited budget. Although inspired by some serious moments in American history, Escape From New York is more escapist, popcorn munching entertainment that should not be taken too seriously yet does bring up some valid points about corruption and the government’s neglect against the very people who protect its existence.

To this day Escape From New York is a popular film at film festivals and all-day science fiction conventions as many of the stars of the movie are doing autograph sessions around the country. There has been talk of a remake for several years but the production has hit some bumps especially since original star Gerard Butler has officially pulled out of the project. I am not too hot on most of the remakes hitting the big screens today, and I will bet that the restructuring of Escape From New York will be a bastardization of its original glory. Science fiction and action fans that have not seen Escape From New York should put this title at the top of their Netflix queue, and the fortunate that have viewed this excellent action epic should watch it again.

* * * * 1/2

–Mark

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