Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Escape from New York

Score Technician: Amanda Hemmerling

In John Carpenter’s vision of 1997, the United States’ prison industrial complex is so out of control that the entirety of New York City becomes a prison. We’re not sure why they picked New York, a bustling hub of commerce and high-end real estate, and not, say, rural Idaho, but we at the PCS have suspended more disbelief for less reward. So grab your scorecards and follow along as we Escape from New York.
  • For having a main character named Snake who wears an eye patch and a leather jacket. = +10pts
  • For modeling his look after Mallory’s boyfriend in Family Ties: = -5pts
  • A plane is hijacked by terrorists and crashed into New York City buildings. Even for a movie filmed in 1981, this feels too soon. = -5pts 
  • The subversive leader of the National Liberation Front of America is not so subversive that she can’t rock a perm. = +8pts
  • Kurt Russell is taken to a top-secret government science lab, where the equipment looks suspiciously like a game of Pac-Man hooked up to a Lite Brite. (We guess most of the budget went to Kurt Russell’s leather jacket.) = +7pts 
  • Good news: Even as a prison, New York City appears to have some charming coffee shops. = +5pts 
  • Bad news: No free wifi and the baristas are rapists. = -5pts 
  • A math equation: In crime films set in New York City, there are x number of foggy alleys for y number of graffiti scrawls, where y is less than the number of wise-talking cab drivers. Solve for x. (Answer: x is equal to the number of sidewalk garbage fires.) = +11pts 
  •  Movie trivia: Christian Bale modeled his Batman voice off of Kurt Russell (probably). = +5pts 
  • The pin-head sized bombs implanted in Kurt Russell’s neck can be neutralized by x-rays if he gets the president’s cassette tape on nuclear fusion to China in time. (The science checks out, says this English major.) = +9pts 
  •  For storing sensitive nuclear secrets on the same medium you made your high school girlfriend a mixtape: = +12pts 
  • Main Character is a Dick Alert #1: Kurt Russell witnesses a rape but doesn’t bother to stop, presumably for fear of ripping his sweet acid wash jeans. = +5pts 
  • The prison has its own house band (unfortunately, not Johnny Cash.) = +5pts 
  • Main Character is a Dick Alert #2: Kurt Russell’s would be paramour is captured by the bad guys, presumably to be raped and/or murdered, and Kurt runs away without her. Hey, what you guys had was nice and all but Kurt’s gotta look out for #1, baby. = -8pts 
  • Main Character is a Dick Alert #3: Cab driver saves Kurt Russell’s life, Kurt Russell points a gun at him and demands a free ride. = -2pts 
  • Cab drivers in New York City carry Molotov cocktails. Also, in the movie, cab drivers light glass bottles on fire and throw them to make bombs. = +6pts 
  • After reminding a character named Harold that they used to be “buddies” before it all went down, Kurt threatens to beat Harold’s “squeeze” for information. In 2015: = -3pts. In a 1940s noir film: = +10pts
  • A prisoner wearing an ascot and coordinating trench coat (For fashion in unexpected places.) = +8pts
  • Kurt Russell is apprehended by the post-apocalyptic Village People, who are holding the president hostage to protest the decline of disco. (We assume… A little checked out at this point.) = +5pts 

  • IMDB ruins everything alert: It turns out that the leader of the post-apocalyptic Village People is not, in fact, the red-headed bully from A Christmas Story. = -3pts 

  • Main Character is a Dick Alert #4: Kurt Russell has a snake tattoo from his abdomen to his penis. Get it? His name is Snake because his penis is as large as a snake. And probably a real big one, too, not like a garden snake. = -2pts
  • Kurt Russell and a guy who looks like Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds get shirtless and fight with wooden clubs, and for some reason a guy in a Coca-Cola shirt cheers them on (Coca-Cola, proud sponsor of dystopian prison bloodsports.) = +16pts 
  • Main Character is a Dick Alert #5: Said to the female protagonist after her boyfriend dies: “He’s dead... Let’s go.” For an accurate summary of events: +5pts For sensitivity: = -10pts 
  • For saving the president, the world, and taking the high road by not killing the evil scientist: = +7pts 
  • For not having a bad-ass catch phrase, like every other '80s action film. (May we suggest: Looks like you’re not going to escape from New York!) = -11pts
Total Score = +79pts
Available: Amazon, the Wikipedia page explaining trigger warnings

Ah, the 80s. When you could have a movie based on ludicrous science and that buzzkill Neil DeGrasse Tyson wasn’t around to ruin it for us all (see: Interstellar, Gravity.) John Carpenter makes us miss the '80s, not just for its blatant disregard for scientific principles, but also for the days of lower budget action films, before the film industry became hyper-focused on CGI super heroes and endless remakes. However, not unlike Snake’s refusal to kill the scientist, we’re taking the high road on this one. So, movie industry, we’ll let you remake Carpenter’s Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China, if you promise to stay away from They Live.

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