Yesterday, Deadline broke the news that producer Joel Silver and Studio Canal are planning to revisit the world of John Carpenter’s “Escape from New York” with a new trilogy that kicks off with a Snake Plissken origin story. (Let us know when you emerge from your rage coma.)
Needless to say the news was met with the enthusiasm of about five “Escape from L.A.”s, and the fans cried out. How could the money grubbing studio execs do this? Isn’t anything sacred? To answer your questions in order: because they can, and no.
Even though this is just par for the course with Hollywood, an “Escape from New York” remake is a rare bird because it commit three of the worst sins in modern movie making.
It’s a reboot.
Remakes, reboots, and revisions are Hollywood’s very own version of Rule 34. “If it exists, there can be a remake of it.” The problem with a remake of “Escape from New York” is that it’s entirely unnecessary. Nothing needs to be updated. There isn’t territory that Carpenter didn’t explore enough in 1981. It’s a film that has found fans in every generation since its release. If my 18-year-old brother can seek of “Escape from New York,” find it, and love it, a remake’s target audience is already entirely satisfied by that story.
They’re recasting an iconic performance.
Kurt Russell is Snake Plissken. Snake Plissken is Kurt Russell. This isn’t just a statement based in sentimentality. When an actor inhabits a role as entirely as Russell did with in his other two classics with Carpenter, “Big Trouble in Little China” and “The Thing,” it’s more than him reading the lines from the screenplay convincingly. He’s imbuing a lot of himself into the character and therefore altering our impression of that character to include Russell specifically. Any other actor taking on the role would be a subtraction from Snake Plissken’s classic stature from the word “go.”
There’s an origin story.
“Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace” taught us nothing. Origin stories like Darth Vader and his midi-chlorians and what Silver plans to do with Snake Plissken in the first remake installment flies in the face of the tried and true saying, “Less history, more mystery.” It’s this equation that makes fan-favorite characters. We didn’t need to know anything about Snake Plissken, and we’re better off not knowing.