Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★★★

StudioCanal 4K Restoration Review 

First things first, thank god that 4K discs are region-free! I bought this nice John Carpenter collection with Escape, The Fog, Prince of Darkness, and They Live, all restored in the best quality available and it doesn’t disappoint. 

I don’t mean to sound hack-y or something, but watching this restoration was really like watching Escape From New York for the first time. It’s really nice to know that Dean Cundey, the film’s director of photography, was involved with this too! The Shout! Factory release, when compared to this, looks very over-saturated with a terrible white balance, where the 2018 4K Ultra-HD Blu-Ray highlights more natural light captured wonderfully with Panavision’s Anamorphic lenses, highlighted with neon lights and nuanced details.

The film, that I have seen probably 200 times, is just an absolute masterpiece visually. Yes, there are some dated effects (that Air Force One shot, for example), but John Carpenter really was a trailblazer when it came to the neo-western, dystopian genre. It’s so stellar, stark, yet warm and mannered. The visual tricks and wide shots really make this film feel bigger than what it is. Cundey really did marry this neon, dilapidated nightmare with some really masterful shot composition by utilizing new film and light equipment at the time. With this 4K restoration, you really appreciate the amount of detail captured on camera with low light. I never noticed the detailed futuristic metal guards on Snake’s boots until viewing this version. It’s really stunning work and StudioCanal did an excellent job. The nuanced neon lights mixed with lens flares coming from trash can fires is pure cinematic poetry. 

John Carpenter’s masterpiece is apparently far more appreciated in the UK and every other country in Region B. This just highlights that Escape From New York, despite its dated and silly flaws, is a definite masterclass in visual storytelling and style. 

(btw, Batman: Arkham City and Cyberpunk 2077 totally ripped this off and I’m surprised Carpenter and StudioCanal haven’t sued)

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