Snakes on a Plane
Director: David R. Ellis (Cellular, Final Destination 2)
Story: David Dalessandro, John Heffernan
Screenplay: John Heffernan, Sebastian Gutierrez
Producers: Don Granger, Craig Berenson, Gary Levinsohn
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips, Flex Alexander, Kenan Thompson, Keith Dallas, Rachel Blanchard, Bruce James, David Koechner, Todd Louiso
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 105 min
read my spoiler disclaimer



     Checklist: Plane? Check. Pilots? Check. FBI agent? Check. Lots of hysterical people? Check. Tits? Check. Baby on board? Check. Chihuahua? Check. 1000 ridiculously huge and aggressive, poisonous snakes? HUH!? Oh yeah; the internet phenomena that is Snakes on a Plane (SoaP to the gurus) is finally in theaters. And I can tell you: believe the hype. I don't remember the last time I had so much fun in a theater. I got sneak preview passes, and as I left, there were hundreds of people lined up for the midnight showing. This is big. Wait til word of mouth gets around.

      Anyone walking into this movie oughtta know what they're getting into right? I mean it's the only movie that's been talked about on the internet for 6 months and it easily has the best title of any movie ever made. I was sure the anticipation and hype would let me down; as it usually does 90% of the time. The film was not screened for critics before hand, which is a very bad sign. But although the odds were stacked against us, thank God they fell in our favor.

      This movie has had one of the largest, cult followings I have seen, maybe ever; and I've been following it now for months. Jackson agreed to the role the second he read the title (or so his interview on "Ellen" claims). When the studio changed the title to "Flight 121" or something stupid like that, Jackson and the fans flipped a lid and the studio, smartly, changed the title back to SoaP. Later, after filming had wrapped, the studio realized the fan base they had and went back and added more footage to make sure this movie was rated 'R' and to give the fans what they wanted. Some lines were actually used in the additional footage that were taken directly from fan parody websites. So in essence, this is one of the first films I can think of, where the fans actually had a big role in the final product. George Lucas should take notes.

      The story is simple. FBI agent Flynn (Jackson) must transport a witness from Hawaii to L.A., via plane, to testify against a mob boss. The mob boss' evil plan? Release a bunch of angry, poisonous snakes on the plane and hope it either kills the witness or takes down the entire plane over the ocean. What ensues, of course, is total chaos. People running and screaming for their lives. Is this completely ridiculous? Of course! But what fun would the movie be if the plane had simply exploded? None at all of course. More on the movie itself and the snakes in a minute. But first...

      **paranoid author checks under desk, then pulls his feet up onto the chair where it's safe**

      This is, of course, a straight up B-movie. The film makers know it, the critics know it and most importantly, the audience knows it. So there is some pretty piss-poor acting galore. But so what? What do you expect when you get B (or more accurately, C) list actors to run around and scream about snakes flying at them through ventilation shafts? So don't expect any academy awards. But I do GUARANTEE several MTV Movie Award statues. Some of the dialogue is cheesy. In any other movie, I would roll my eyes and think, "This sucks." But here, it is deliberately laughable and I loved every minute of it. Sam Jackson will always be known for his fantastic quotes in Pulp Fiction. But SoaP comes in a very close second. He takes his Jules character to the extreme for this one.


      The snakes look a lot better than I thought they would judging from what I had seen in the early trailers. Sometimes it looks a bit fake, but not overly ridiculous fake. They actually look very convincing, right down to the multi-colored scales that move in a wave of slithering skin. I'm not sure if many of the snakes are actual species of snakes or not. There was one or two that were cobalt blue or another that was bright green. It doesn't matter in the slightest if they're real or not. They look real, and you'll jump when they come at you either way. Which brings up the "directing" of these cold-blooded killers. There were some neat ideas done with these creepy crawlers. They sometimes slither right over the lens of the camera. Other times their jaws literally appear to swallow the camera (i.e. us). One scene shows a snake over head that is moving on a transparent surface. So we see how it moves from underneath. We also see the world through their eyes on occasion. Just some neat stuff and actually, pretty clever film making.

      The movie wastes no time at all in getting things going. Within the first 5 minutes, we see an extremely brutal murder, then 10 minutes later, we're on board the plane and meeting all the characters. 10 minutes after that, everything lets loose and does not let up all the way to the end. And this director holds nothing back. This isn't just stupid running around and falling down in snakes. Some of the most outlandish scenarios are brought to bare and any body part that is exposed is a possible target to be bitten by a snake; ...any...body...part. Blood galore and some other gross out sequences that are more than just the usual "axe to the face," blood letting scenes are rampant. There is some originality here that many films never realize.

      As I said, the intensity never lets up. Besides the obvious threat, there are many other factors: unruly passengers, helpless passengers, power failures, dead bodies to worry about and a few other little surprises. Yes, I said surprises. There were many times I thought, "Well, I didn't see that coming!" or, "I can't believe that just happened...hahahaha!" Another factor seriously lacking in most horror/creature features.

      It actually is fairly intense too. In a bit of a stupid way, yes; but never the less, you may find yourself gripping that arm rest fairly tightly as some idiot on screen reaches into a dark hole in the cargo bay or some unforeseen turbulance sends a woman flying into a "nest." Of course no guns are allowed on the plane, so our heroes are forced to use several make-shift weapons (Maguyver style) to ward of the impending doom that are 5, nine-foot long hissing cobras and rattlers slithering up first class.

      So at the tail-end of this thing, I must say to all of you: If you're at all interested in this (and you should be - I really belive it is a little bit of history being made), try to see this movie opening weekend; opening night (Friday, August 18th) if at all possible. You'll see it with fans who know what they like. I admit they can be a bit obnoxious at first, but they'll calm down soon enough when they realize the movie they are watching is actually pretty good and not something to be made fun of. Laughed at? Yes. But not to be made fun of. See this soon. It is hisssterical.



Links:
Listen to my audio review on Podcast Episode #14
Snakes on a Blog - huge fan site that inspired much of the film's final product
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
Official Site - with links to 100s of fan sites and a dialogue generator
FLIXSTER PROFILE for Snakes on a Plane



 





drewbacca@moviepatron.com