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Escape from L.A.
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the violence in Escape from L.A. includes gunfire, thrown knives, electrocutions, and rocket launches. Do-not-do-this-at-home stuff includes reckless motorcycle stunts. Swearing is at a typical R-level. The main character smokes cigarettes in a no-smoking country, the act upheld as the last vestige of the American spirit, literally. Negative stereotypes include Left-leaning Latino gangster-warlords and a thoroughly despicable, Right-wing Christian president who orders his own daughter executed.
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What's the story?
After events in Escape From New York, a harsh USA has gone from bad to worse as a fundamentalist Christian (Cliff Robertson) gets elected president-for-life in ESCAPE FROM L.A. He relocates the White House to Lynchburg, Virginia, proclaims a new "moral" country, and turns the ruined Los Angeles -- a wrecked island after a massive 2000 earthquake and ongoing aftershocks -- into a deportation zone, not only for criminals, but also atheists, Muslims, nonconformists, illegals, and anyone else not in step with Family Values. But the president's rebel daughter has stolen an American world-domination weapon control and fled to LA to hook up with revolutionary terrorists she met online. Ruthless US authorities once again capture slippery outlaw-war hero Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) and force him to go into Los Angeles and retrieve the gadget -- and kill the First Daughter, on her dad's orders.
Is it any good?
It almost helps not to have seen the earlier Escape From New York (1981) to enjoy this ludicrous sci-fi actioner. Even though supposedly a sequel, Escape from L.A. is more akin to an alternative version of the original (like YA author Gary Paulsen's published what-if riffs of his classic novel Hatchet). Hot-and-cold running filmmaker John Carpenter hits absolutely the same marks subplot-for-subplot, character-for-character, only with quirky West Coast substitutes, i.e. a ghoulish Beverly Hills gang/cult addicted to plastic surgery, who cut up fellow Angelenos for spare parts. There's a visibly bigger budget, yet the CGI f/x are stiff and fake-looking. The social satire and cynicism of the first movie are also cranked up high, especially hostility toward Christians -- but at least the knowingly over-the-top stunts, absurdity, and weirdos make it easier to laugh this one off.
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For kids who love sci-fi and action
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