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Escape From
Arkham City

"There was a videogame that came out a few years ago called Arkham City, which shows how when Gotham became this kind of walled prison and how it became a walled prison," commented producer Joel Silver to writer Perri Nemiroff at Collider.com at a recent press conference. Silver was comparing Arkham City to his proposed remake of John Carpenter's classic Escape From New York.

Apparently, Silver feels inspired by Arkham City, that somehow the key to a good remake lies within the structure of that game. Where once John Carpenter had written and directed one stand-alone film (granted, years later came the sequel, Escape From L.A.), Silver envisions a trilogy. And Arkham City is the first film -- one which shows how the walls came up.

So several sites have run with this Arkham City comparison, and this is really tail wagging the dog here. But it did its real job, which is to get people talking about remaking Escape From New York again.

First off, Mr. Silver, how the walls went up? That's back story. It doesn't need to be told because how they went up doesn't actually affect what happens to the people -- including Carpenter's greatest creation, Snake Plissken -- who have to deal with the city once those walls exist. Just like The Phantom Menace, knowing who Snake was before his reputation preceded him just isn't necessary.

Maybe he was a good man, but it adds nothing to the mystique of, say, The Man With No Name to know what his name was. So it is with Snake Plissken. Who he is now is an incredible bad-ass that everybody thought was dead.

We don't need to know how he lost his eye, though it was probably incredibly bad-ass. Even the comic book mini-series approved by Carpenter went forward in time. It isn't important where Snake came from; all that matters is where he's going.

Besides, what are you going to call it? Enter Into Escape From New York?

And second, why did no one call Joel Silver on this simple point: you don't look to Arkham City for inspiration on Escape From New York, because the game is inspired BY Escape From New York. Don't get me wrong. Arkham City is great. Just let's note what influenced what.

Wall off the city and allow the criminals and those unfortunately unable to leave to just fend for themselves? Escape From New York. And those criminals and even a few ordinary citizens are kind of grotesque and cartoon monstrous? Escape From New York. Batman's Detective mode? Escape From...okay, that was really just primitive graphics.

It's also the second time a Batman project has looked to that classic Carpenter film for inspiration -- an entire "event" in the comics, "No Man's Land" (which also influenced portions of The Dark Knight Rises), borrowed the set-up as the U.S. Government blew up all the bridges onto the city of Gotham, which is an island not unlike Manhattan.

Heck, it's even being used a third time in the current Forever EvilI event, with the Arkham War mini-series once again demonstrating what happens when the villains rule the streets.

Now, it's likely that Joel Silver does know perfectly well which came first -- the snake or the egg. Referencing Arkham City just makes him seem more in tune with pop culture. But our snake is eating its own tail, and it just seems ridiculous not to call attention to it, and as "journalists" we have a responsibility to acknowledge this circle.

As for the end of his "trilogy," Silver suggests a slightly better version of Escape From L.A. But let me suggest something else -- just remake Escape From New York.

You will pick somebody appropriately tough in a more 2014/2015 way, and Kurt Russell is still absolutely hale, hearty and bad-ass enough to step in to the role Lee Van Cleef played in the original, although he's just wacky enough to try for Ernest Borgnine.

And yes, I'll even cop to a lot of the original film looking dated. It was a fantastic low-budget effort that has stuck in people's heads because John Carpenter was so good at making much out of nothing. But we're way past 1997 and the fate of the Free World probably won't be held on a cassette tape.

Don't look to Lord of the Rings or Star Wars as your model. Snake Plissken is a twisted James Bond. Make three movies. Make your new Plissken an icon. But just let them be three adventures. They can all be "escapes;" they can all happen sequentially. Just let the only connection be that they happen to Snake Plissken.

Derek McCaw

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