One of the great hopes at New Line Cinema was the remake of Escape From New York. A potential franchise based on a beloved piece of source material, an attached lead with his star on the rise and a solid first draft script. Merrick wrote a passionate defense of the first draft, and I agree with pretty much all of his sentiments, though I hated the idea of giving Snake a laborious backstory that served to demystify him. There’s this strange fascination in Hollywood with origin stories, a sad biproduct of the Star Wars prequels and the glut of comic book movies. I am lucky enough to possess both the “original” (if you can even call it that) Ken Nolan draft and the revision, credited to Jonathan Mostow and Sam Montgomery. The revision is dated November 3rd, 2007. This must have been the last pre-Strike draft, and with the demise of the old New Line Cinema, it’s anyone’s guess what the status of the project is. The Nolan draft was brutal, epic in scale and retained all of the dystopian despair of John Carpenter’s classic, while updating the details in a respectful fashion. It wasn’t always the most elegant social commentary, but neither was the original. It was a grand middle finger to the establishment, with no need to be subtle. If you’d like to know more about the first draft, you can find Merrick’s review HERE). Besides the script, I was also encouraged by the involvement of Gerard Butler, and when he left, I was sure it had to do with a serious creative disagreement. The old New Line was a decaying dinosaur of a studio, cranking out focus grouped bullshit on a regular basis. This latest version of Escape from New York would have been no different. The thing that I loved about the Nolan draft is that it was not interested in bald-faced copying, but retained a certain spirit of “fuck the world” cynicism that the original was seeped in. That is, for all intents and purposes long gone with the Mostow draft. The most controversial aspect of this script jumps out at you early: The President is now a woman…and she’s someone we’re supposed to root for. I don’t even know if I mind the gender change that much. I don’t give a damn that Starbuck is a woman on Battlestar Galactica. You could make the Duke “The Duchess” and cast Fergie for all I care. Just get the essence of the character right. At no point do I feel Mostow and Montgomery get the original at all. By page 70, the President is spouting on about restoring civil liberties and freedom of the press, the evils of society. It turns into “Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington” and I begin to gag. Here’s a snippet of dialogue:
SNAKE Are you gonna shut up one of these days? PRESIDENT No, I’m not. I’m going to lay it on the line. We have wars being fought, not just overseas, but here on our own soil. And all we know to do about any of it is to impose curfews and throw tear gas at the problem.It’s a sweet sentiment, but are characters in the EFNY universe, especially governmental authorities, supposed to be so blindly idealistic? Wasn’t the point of the original that Snake was RIGHT to not trust anyone? Now, his unwillingness to hear out this saintly female president just comes off as smug and unlikable. It gets to the point where Snake and the President have a physical altercation and I’m rooting for HER not him. The President is on her way to make a speech where she will announce an end to Martial Law. Of course, the big, bad military won’t let this idealist make this necessary change in policy. It is worth pointing out that the only female in this whole script is the only sane person. Feminists and Clinton supporets may read into that in any way that choose. There’s certainly a hanging subtext there. The Nolan draft had a character named “Squirrel” that replaced Ernest Borg nine’s “Cabbie” from the original. Squirrel is gone, and all aspects of him and Cabbie have been merged into Brain. No longer is Brain a genius. He’s just a little weasel. Both drafts hinge on Snake and the President navigating an area called “The Forbidden Zone,” which is an area of the city lined with automatic machine guns and landmines. In the Nolan draft, Brain comes up with a plan to navigate the Zone and escape Manhattan. Instead of that, the Mostow draft has Brain FIND the map through the Zone on a dead guy. Yet again, you must wonder why even remake a film if you aren’t going to be adhere to the tenants of the movie you are remaking. Even if this wasn’t a remake, I would still be struck by the fact that Brain is a useless character. He isn’t comic relief, he doesn’t do anything particularly crucial to the plot. He is a contrivance designed to give Snake a map of the Zone to get him and the President out of Manhattan, and to drive him to The Duke. This could be forgiven, to a certain extent if there was much in terms of clever action. A thrilling, violent motorcycle chase from the Nolan draft is removed from the middle of the script, replaced with a much shorter chase scene that culminates in Snake, home free and on his way to his extraction point, turning around and kidnapping the President. Snake actually has a motivation in this script besides pure survival. If you are not interested in spoilers for a potentially horrible movie, look away now. You get the point, this script is pretty freaking lame: Snake kidnaps the President, in the process wasting time getting out of Manhattan Supermax and getting the explosive charge out of his neck because of a man named Harvey Garland. The script tells us that Harvey enjoys video games, bestiality porn and Academy DVD screeners. Snake is going to put the President up for ransom. He will give The Duke the President if The Duke finds this Harvey Garland for Snake. Why does Snake want Harvey Garland so badly? Harvey Garland stole Snake’s PEN. It’s a Mont Blanc, so it’s a nice pen at least. We are supposed to find this hilarious, I‘m sure. I laughed. I laughed that this script had turned Snake Plissken into a petty, vindictive person. The one thing I did appreciate about this revision is that it removed the flashbacks that set up Snake’s unnecessary backstory and handicapped the forward momentum of the script, but now he’s kidnapping world leaders to beat up a guy that stole his pen. The grand payoff of this subplot is that Snake rips the guy’s eye out because it has a vital transmitter in it. It certainly sounds like a nice, gory moment that belongs in a film like this…inevitably to end up being cut and included on the super Unrated Special Edition with 15 minutes of extra blood and one use of the word “Fuck” for good measure. The “clever” moments don’t end there, to be sure. I assume everyone involved thought it cute to put The Duke’s hideout in Trump Tower and have him walking around in a robe monogrammed “DT,” but what’s the point? What purpose does it serve in the grand scheme of things? It never leads to a set-piece or action beat. As a matter of fact, I am fairly certain that set would only appear in one scene of the film. Even with that, it is pretty much the most interesting addition to this draft. Everything else is just done to make this potential film more palatable for audiences terrified at the notion that there is no hope for mankind, that our institutions of government are outmoded and our civilization needs to be “rebooted,” to borrow a Hollywood buzzword. Not only does this have the stench of a watered-down version of EFNY, without the unflinching pessimism and graphic language of the original, it comes off as a cheaper version of the first draft. The finale of the Nolan draft deals with an interesting set-piece where the walls of Manhattan crack and flood the city. That’s long gone now, presumably because it would save the production a few million dollars. The new version is a bit closer to the original’s conclusion, but with a smaller body count. I want to say briefly here that I am not automatically against remakes. The remake is not without merit. The example everyone gives for a “good” remake is Battelstar Galactica. While it’s cliché to say, it is very true that BSG actually had an artistic purpose for existing. Universal wanted to exploit a property, just like any studio in the remake game, but I strongly believe that the end product was a very heartfelt, real exercise. What this version of EFNY lacks is heart. A reason for existing. Other than the “pen” plot point, there’s nothing truly egregious about this script. No Jar Jar moments or “Snake Jr.” to be played by Shia. There’s nothing here at all. It misses the spirit of the original, while simultaneously saying nothing new either. It just flops around on the deck like a fish. I say this to Warner Bros., if they are reading this. Do not make this script. Hire someone with some balls and some vision, if you MUST do this. Based on this script, Jonathan Mostow is not that person. This script reads as if it were written by a man who just didn’t give a shit about EFNY (which, ironically, is a very “Snake” attitude). EFNY was an auteur film. If it must be redone, give it to an auteur or just don’t do it at all. There is no passion here, no vitality or humanity. Just another processed turd from the Hollywood factory.
July 25, 2008, 3:08 p.m. CST
July 25, 2008, 3:12 p.m. CST
Sometimes you have to ask yourself why, why, why?
July 25, 2008, 3:12 p.m. CST
July 25, 2008, 3:13 p.m. CST
He IS Snake Plissken. This will have too much to live up to and end up being disappointing.
July 25, 2008, 3:16 p.m. CST
and fuck snake -- this is going to suck anyways, wish it wasn't true. god damnit.
July 25, 2008, 3:16 p.m. CST
Someone thought Hillary was going to be President when they wrote this. How cute.
July 25, 2008, 3:16 p.m. CST
couldn't have said it better myself. Leave it the fuck alone!
July 25, 2008, 3:17 p.m. CST
Take a different character. Add different situations in that time period. I agree that you just cannot have anyone else but Russell play Plissken. Hell, have it be Escape to New York (always thought that would be a neat idea). Just change the settings and characters but keep the same theme.
July 25, 2008, 3:22 p.m. CST
...or maybe he is?
July 25, 2008, 3:22 p.m. CST
Really? Swiss Family Robinson? Really?
July 25, 2008, 3:23 p.m. CST
by Stalin vs Predator
Remember that script? (PDFScreenplays had the original draft, until it went down - thanks, AICN :P) - it went through rewrites and rewrites, and ended up as unwatchable garbage, because the hack that eventually did put it on celluloid was only interested in making a movie about "psychic" nonsense...
July 25, 2008, 3:25 p.m. CST
by Dr Gregory House
Somebody greenlight THAT motherf#$ker.
I wasn't looking forward to this with Gerard Butler, but after reading about what they changed from that script I don't know what to think. I guess my low expectations got even lower, not that I was going to check this out anyway. Kurt Russell is Snake Plissken.
July 25, 2008, 3:27 p.m. CST
that came with New Line's demise was that I was sure that this would not get made.. After reading this dreck ,I am still hopeful it won't be . You cann't make this movie right if the Prez isn't just a maguffin. Once the Prez's politics start spouting off , it's over , this ceases to be a Snake Plissken flick and becomes just another preachy lefty movie .
July 25, 2008, 3:28 p.m. CST
Take a classic, "reimagine" it and make it complete and utter shit. hey have been doing it with movies and TV shows for so long now, will they ever learn from past mistakes? I seriously doubt it. I can stand changes, but when it compromises the integrity and spirit of the source material, thats when you lose me. Look at John Carpenter's The Thing, not only did it respect the source, it improved upon the original immensely. Why can't ANYONE in Hollywood follow that superb example? Probably because they are too young and stupid to learn from the past.
July 25, 2008, 3:33 p.m. CST
kidnaps the president because he wants the guy who stole his pen...please,someone see sense and kill this abomination off.
July 25, 2008, 3:42 p.m. CST
by Tom Cullen
And once again Mostow fucks up a good thing, as if his ass-raping of the Terminator franchise wasn't bad enough already. "I know, let's have the Terminator wear silly glasses and play gay stereotypes, it'll be high-larious!". What a fuckwit. I hear that the T3 draft before Mostow was pretty damn good too, before he went and "fixed" it. <p>You know, at this point I'm starting to think that Breakdown was secretly directed by Kurt Russell, you know, just like Tombstone was always rumoured to be. Whatever the case, Breakdown was clearly a fucking fluke considering all the other shit Mostow has delivered, and I fear this will be no different. At all. <p>M-O-O-N. That spells talentless hack.
July 25, 2008, 3:43 p.m. CST
by Stuntcock Mike
Fuck this shit. This remake will not get $1 of my dough. And probably not much from everybody here. I'll just buy the triple-dip of the original they'll put out at the same time this taint of a film hits theaters. Ugh.
July 25, 2008, 3:47 p.m. CST
Those later models just didn't hold the same class for me.
July 25, 2008, 3:55 p.m. CST
Even low-budget producers and distributors who are supposed to make things like "Escape" think they're big Hollywood studios now and have no goddamned originality or balls -- and have films that just limp on the screen like a near-dead trout. What happened to just low-budget, cool fucking movies?
July 25, 2008, 3:56 p.m. CST
by Evil Chicken
I’d pay hard money in the theaters for this one. It would be great to see Mr. Carpenter come out of semi-retirement and make this movie. Kurt Russell IS Snake Plissken – bottom line. I want to see the man who shut down the world start it up again. Make it so… please.
July 25, 2008, 4:01 p.m. CST
by Angry Bald Guy
July 25, 2008, 4:16 p.m. CST
by a rolling stone
Well that sucks. Snake needs a young up-and-coming one-eyed sidekick on a motorcycle, with flames and nipples and such. I also hope in the final showdown, they re-write it so the Duke shoots first. That way, Snake won't be considered such a bad guy.
July 25, 2008, 4:18 p.m. CST
I wish that they weren't necessary in creating a movie, comic book franchise or otherwise. I remember walking out during the end credits of the first X-Men movie and not feeling like I'd seen a movie as TRAILER for a movie. I was right. X2 was the real movie. That being said, Batman Begins and Spiderman did a decent job of handling the origin stories, but again the sequel was the far better film.
July 25, 2008, 4:21 p.m. CST
is the only good thing Mostow ever did.
July 25, 2008, 4:29 p.m. CST
by CAPTAIN RIGHTWING
I feel like I’m insane. Why bother? Did Escape from L.A. make bank? There is no reason at all to remake EFNY, no fucking reason at all, and to have the President be a central character is idiotic at best. You know its times like these I realize that anyone, even a mildly retarded monkey like Mostow can work in Hollywood.
July 25, 2008, 5:05 p.m. CST
Bad idea to change the vibe this much. If they wanted to give us an uplifting ending they should do it in the last half of the third movie if at all...
July 25, 2008, 5:06 p.m. CST
July 25, 2008, 5:10 p.m. CST
I am a liberal and I couldn't agree with you more. This movie has to scream Snake Plisskin or what's the fuckin' point.
July 25, 2008, 5:12 p.m. CST
God dang it! At least you know I'm trying...
July 25, 2008, 5:25 p.m. CST
by 1st and only
After the dark knight any studio that retains their old basic values of what an audience wants to see or are able to understand will be left broken and bankrupt. If they fail to change with the times and give credit to us the well informed paying public then their downfall will be well deserved..listen and learn studios, times are achanging.
July 25, 2008, 5:31 p.m. CST
No no. They did that a couple of years ago, it was called Mystery Men and they changed everything that made Watchmen what it was.
July 25, 2008, 5:32 p.m. CST
send me a copy of the first draft script???? Please please please? If any of you guys have a copy that you could email to me, I would be immensely honored? Anybody not have the Inglorious Bastards script yet? If you have the EFNY one, you probably already have it though. Maybe a trade?
July 25, 2008, 5:35 p.m. CST
totally unnecessary. Still, I would love to lay eyes on that Nolan first draft!
July 25, 2008, 5:40 p.m. CST
David Tennant? What? I'm lost (laffs). You can't say "the Doctor" and not expect people to think of "THE Doctor"...oh nevermind.
July 25, 2008, 5:44 p.m. CST
Bad enuff they remade the Fog, Halloween and Precient 13, now this?!? No one wins but Carpenter caus his ass is laughing to the Bank. More Cigarettes and Fried Chicken!
July 25, 2008, 5:55 p.m. CST
and I didn't see it in the week or two it was out in theatres, so is Doomsday the female EFNY it looks to be?? I'll be renting it anyway. Just curious if anyones seen it.
July 25, 2008, 6:43 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
He writes oops my bad, sorry, picks up the manuscript and runs it through a shredder. End of re-write, end if destroying a classic.
July 25, 2008, 6:50 p.m. CST
by Stuntcock Mike
That'll get my friend Sir Binks riled up.
July 25, 2008, 6:51 p.m. CST
by andrew coleman
I don't get how studio ass holes find ways to fuck up movies, it's like they do it on purpose. Oh well won't see this POS when it comes out.
July 25, 2008, 6:57 p.m. CST
by the milf lover
Doomsday does reek of EFNY, Mad Max 2 and lost of other 80s shit with some 90s virus/plague tidbits thrown in, all mashed up in a blender into a gloriously ridiculous violent piece of entertaining crap! One of the best AND worse movies I've seen all year, and I highly recommend it!
July 25, 2008, 7:09 p.m. CST
Not because the original desrved to be remade, but because I thought with the right script maybe someone could make it more bloodthirsty and more of a fuck you to the goverment. In the hands of someone wanting to do a true grindhouse style antihero flick. Oh well,thats what I get for thinking.
July 25, 2008, 7:44 p.m. CST
I cann't think of one. All the remakes have been shit.
July 25, 2008, 8:55 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
suggesting that. I'll give you credit, you know how to push buttons. Ouch, that hurt. Now watch, you've given some fool an idea.
July 25, 2008, 9:04 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
talkies, Ben Hur was a remake.
July 25, 2008, 9:10 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
beating comment was a joke. I wonder how the background check is coming along.
July 25, 2008, 9:12 p.m. CST
July 25, 2008, 9:15 p.m. CST
by The Marquis de Side 3
it's like talking to a bunch of rapists in a dungeon somewhere NOT to go out and rape someone. OF COURSE they're going to rape it. If they don't do it to EFNY, they'll do it to the next thing, but they WILL do it anyway because THAT'S their thing. they are not artists. they are producers out for the quick buck. they are car salesmen with HUGE commissions that don't realize that if you follow examples like BSG or Nolan's DARK KNIGHT series, you could actually get LOTS of money and LOTS of creative credibility.
July 25, 2008, 10:16 p.m. CST
Why don't they just remake all the fucken movies they failed at? they were broke, fix them. Oh no gotta mess with the classics. Go fuck yourself Jonathon Mostow u hack piece of shit, you ruined T3.
July 26, 2008, 12:31 a.m. CST
Seriously, good luck with that.
July 26, 2008, 1:03 a.m. CST
...he is/was attached to direct an idea he developed with Ashton Kutcher that was akin to Baby Boom meets The Game Plan. You heard me right. He wanted to make a "Ashton gets kids that aren't his" family comedy. How do I know this? Ashton's production company pitched a writer friend of mine this idea. This asshole has no right touching Carpenter and should never be allowed to have anything to do with Escape From NY.
July 26, 2008, 2:03 a.m. CST
Just another studio puppet gimp!!, a less successful Ratner or Bay.. Stop fucking with my beloved movie!!! J.C make Escape From Earth with King Kurt!! all Hail the KING!!!
July 26, 2008, 2:28 a.m. CST
This is one of those times. This sounds like YET ANOTHER complete waste of time and money. HORRIBLE. POINTLESS. There are movies that you just know are going to fail, artistically and commercially, the very moment you first hear about them. This is such a movie. Is it possible to yawn and throw up at the same time?
July 26, 2008, 3:31 a.m. CST
you know those fuckers are probably "writing" (aka changing the character names) of it already.
July 26, 2008, 4:09 a.m. CST
and I was almost excited about it being made. I would have loved to see the Madison Sq. Garden scene. This, however sounds like rape.
July 26, 2008, 4:57 a.m. CST
...Remakes! Ie: Shit!
July 26, 2008, 5:05 a.m. CST
Same shit different assholes
July 26, 2008, 5:56 a.m. CST
July 26, 2008, 7:30 a.m. CST
In a perfect world, an Escape from New York remake will never happen. In a not-so-perfect world, Ken Nolan's first draft of the EFNY remake will be filmed. In a crappy world, Jonathan Mostow's character/universe killing garbage will shot. Too bad Mostow won't be for writing such crap.
July 26, 2008, 9:17 a.m. CST
just for clarity, because half the reviewers on this site do this, YOU DON'T ADHERE TO TENANTS. YOU ADHERE TO ***TENETS***. God Damn!
July 26, 2008, 10:43 a.m. CST
Any draft is automatically discredited. EFNY is perfect just the way it is.
July 26, 2008, 2 p.m. CST
wouldnt that make sense?
July 26, 2008, 2:03 p.m. CST
But ... but ... that would go against everything the major studios belive in at this point - remember, we live in a world where violence in entertainment is bad, where feminism is the only true course and where anyone who wants to fight against a villain is missing the point because there is no good or evil - there are only shades of grey, and we're just as grey as 'they' are. Remember, evil people are just like us - cuddly, warm-hearted folks with butterscotch pools and candy-cane smiles!
July 26, 2008, 2:53 p.m. CST
KNOW CABBIE, KNOW PEACE!!!!
July 26, 2008, 5:30 p.m. CST
Does Spacehunter know about this?
July 26, 2008, 5:52 p.m. CST
That pretty much sums up everything I hate about Hollywood right now. Someone with a set of kahonies still attached needs to go in and strip the focus groups of all their power and kick 'em to the curb.
July 27, 2008, 1:37 p.m. CST
by spud mcspud
He may have gotten fucked over back in the day, but if he gace THAT much of a shit about his properties, he'd have forgone payment for retaining rights over his movies. Then he could have brought out EFNY and THE THING figures, created CarpenterFilmLimited, hopefully NOT made a shitty prequel trilogy with some creepy kid as Young Snake, but actuallay have protected these pics. I do understand how fucked over JC was back then - God knows he's mentioned it often enough - but now he's doing the fucking by allowing / co-producing all these abortions that have the temerity to call themselves remakes - all so he can get some coin and go back to his fucking video games, grass and fried chicken. Get some pride, JC - these are YOUR fucking legendary movies they're ruining. At least give a shit about what they're doing to these remakes!!!
July 27, 2008, 3:05 p.m. CST
"PC" for movies rendered unwatchable by Political Correct rewrites. Ms President has to be the good guy.. the 'big bad military' is the bad guy? yawn. Reverse that dynamic and we might actually be able to stay awake through this.
July 29, 2008, 12:49 a.m. CST
by Munro Kelly
Are they going to remake all of his films? This is ridiculous. I wouldn't mind a sequel to "They Live" but I can do without a remake of it.