Aug 31, 2006|
Don’t believe the hype: This film is not worth it. By the time Samuel L. Jackson yells the sure to be classic phrase, “I’ve had it with these motherfucking snakes on the motherfucking plane,” there were cheers in the audience, most likely because everybody felt the same way too. The B-grade thriller “Snakes On A Plane” is surely the best film title of the year, which benefited from major internet word-of-mouth and even forced the studio to do meaner, grittier re-shoots. But the truth is, once you’ve seen one snake maul a breast, a crotch, an eye, an ass, or swallow someone’s head, you’ve really seen them all.
Taken as an ultra silly B-movie, “Snakes” certainly delivers - for a time. The loose setup begins when a Hawaiian surfer (a bland Nathan Phillips) sees the execution of a Los Angeles prosecutor by an ultra-bad Bruce Lee-styled martial artist. An FBI agent (Samuel L. Jackson) is then hired to escort the surfer on a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles. On the plane we meet a nonsensical assortment of barely fleshed-out characters: a rapper and his silly entourage, a woman and her yapping dog, a pissed-off Brit businessman with hair plugs, an earnest stewardess (Juliana Margulies), horny honeymooners and various kids. It’s like a new version of “Airport” with no real rhyme or reason except that you know most of these people are going to bite it.
There’s no telling how the exotic snakes from around the world get into the cargo hold. But when they get out, they slither through the plane like Michael Shumacher at the Monaco Grand Prix. They ooze out of toilets, tear apart a couple making love, crawl up shirts and wreak havoc in the cockpit. It’s all done with a completely camp mixture of horror, humor and even a snake cam (think cheesy green night vision).
Director David R. Ellis directs this one with all the subtlety of a rattler run amuck. Banter is hilariously inconsequential. Scenes don’t so much play out as they lurch from seat to seat. By the time the end is near and the plane is in danger of crashing, one really has seen enough snakes, and this plane, and this motherfucking movie, no matter what certain websites would have you believe.
Best Bit: A snake zooming in on a couple joining the Mile High Club.
Believe the hype: This film is totally worth it. It’s got snakes. A Plane. Samuel L. Jackson. What more could you possibly ever want? Which of your needs is left unfulfilled by this title? Snakes? Check. On a Plane? Check. Samuel L. Jackson using profanity as only Samuel L. Jackson can? Check that. Three elements, the only three advertised elements, make this movie everything you could ever desire from a work of art called “Snakes on a Plane.”
And of course, all of this is fantastic fun. And the hype behind this movie can’t be underestimated. The noise of millions of internet fanboys forced the studio into five additional days of shooting after the movie had wrapped, in order to incorporate their ideas (the whole thing was practically written on Wikipedia). It also spawned countless websites, and a brand new colloquial phrase with a definition that falls between “c’est la vie” and “shit happens”: It’s the apocalypse? “Ah well, snakes on a plane.” You’ve caught gonorrhea from a bout of poorly considered, sordid copulation? “Snakes on a plane, man.” Snakes on a Plane.
What makes the movie awesome is its sheer, unashamed, camp 50s B-movie-ness. Fuzzy green Snake-O-Vision! The eccentric but brilliant poison specialist! Uptight Englishmen! An unwavering preference for attacking buxom women (right on their nipples too)! The entire premise demands making a considerable concession to reality, but it’s also nice to see a “horror” movie that isn’t all about disgusting alien mutant beasties, but rather a real, almost tangible threat – albeit, on a plane.
Of course, you could go on about how this film plays to some of our deepest-held fears. (The best laid schemes of snakes on planes...) You can say that in a post-9/11 world, “Snakes on a Plane” plays on our terror of the unknown and unexpected. You can say that the film’s logo, of snakes twisting around a plane, invokes the mythical caduceus and precisely encapsulates the ironic nature of the film. You could say all that, and you’d probably be right. But you know, it’d still be bullshit. This film isn’t a haunting political allegory for terrorism in the modern age. No, it’s about motherfucking snakes. And you know what, baby? They’re on a motherfucking plane.
Best bit: Oh, I don’t know. Oh, wait, yes I do. The SNAKES. On the PLANE.