Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
Derek Flint’s got a loooooooooong history here at the site as a guy who sees things first, and today, he makes history as the one who has been to the promised land and back, the only man to pierce the veil of hype so far, the first reviewer to see... SNAKES ON A PLANE. Derek?
“Snakes On A Plane.”
Everybody knows everything about this movie. Or at least, they think they do.
They've read the blogs, seen the mock posters, surfed the websites, watched the news reports of how an outlandish movie title met the Internet and spawned a phenomenon.
You've also probably been exposed to some of the editorializing, as cinema experts take differing sides on the fact that the filmmakers behind this movie deigned to listen to the online community, people who never saw a frame of footage, and incorporated all the things fans were clamoring for.
Currently, there’s a piece in “Esquire” that cites this precedent as having ominous repercussions. Still, how is this practice any more heinous than doing a reshoot after a test screening?
Personally, the concept of any studio deciding to make a movie more extreme in our conservative times is cause for celebration. I'm glad New Line had the good sense to realize that any movie starring Samuel L. Jackson battling an airplane full of serpents should never be rated PG-13.
Think about it. Wouldn't you love to hear “Casino Royale” was rated R? How long has a James Bond flick been shackled by the inane perception they're “family films?”
Anyway, much has been written about “Snakes On A Plane” except for one thing: Is the movie any good?
After having to sit through this year’s overproduced, bloated, pretentious studio product that desperately tries to disguise its B movie roots… finally here’s a movie that hunkers down to give the audience a shameless good time.
Of course “Snakes On A Plane” is ridiculous, but it’s also nonstop fun.
These filmmakers aren't embarrassed to deliver everything exactly as promised. The only thing that will probably go unnoticed after the huge opening weekend grosses, as well as consternation from cinematic elitists, is that “Snakes On A Plane” is a much better movie than it has any right to be with such a crazy premise and ridiculous title.
“Snakes On A Plane” functions as both a competent thriller as well as a full-blown horror movie.
In some ways, the film shares a certain kinship with another movie set on a plane that I enjoyed: “Executive Decision,” which stretched credibility with great ingenuity in order to entertain.
Of course, that movie didn't feature the unnerving slither quotient that gives this film its now legendary distinction.
Believe it or not, “Snakes On A Plane” shares an unexpected kinship with Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” a film that was also derided as absurd upon initial release, wherein natural everyday anxieties, such as flying, are sent off the charts by an unforeseen element being thrown into the mix.
It’s bad enough to be on a rough flight, but imagine the floor around you filled with as many snakes as Indiana Jones was forced to contend with.
Believe it or not, “Snakes On A Plane” actually doesn't insult the audience. The director and screenwriters work hard to keep ratcheting up the suspense, both on the ground and in the air, and approach some of it with actual sophistication.
There’s actually some logic that comes into play throughout… and no one will be checking their watches during this movie. Like the venomous creatures that attack the passengers and crew… this movie is lean and mean.
For those who don't know the flight plan:
Nathan Phillips plays a young surfer named Sean who witnesses the vicious torture and murder of a D.A. trying to bring a megalomaniac crime lord to justice.
Byron Lawson plays the villain, Mr. Kim, with insane relish. This is an over the top bad guy whose behavior flirts very close to the mayhem caused by the heavy from “Enter The Dragon” with a dash of “Dr. No” imperviousness thrown in. It was shrewd of the screenwriters to make Kim such a crazy, sadistic nut job… as it helps sell the audience on the wildly unconventional plan he puts in motion to guarantee Sean won't be testifying in court anytime soon.
For Kim, killing isn't enough. He wants to inflict the kind of prolonged suffering that would make even a Cenobite cry foul.
Terrified by what he saw, Sean doesn't go to the police… but that doesn't stop Kim from hunting Sean down and making an attempt on his life.
And, of course, the man himself thwarts this attempt: Samuel L. Jackson plays an FBI agent named Flynn.
Simply put, this movie wouldn't work without “Sam The Man.” Even as the situation escalates beyond any semblance of reality, Jackson anchors this film with an unwavering performance.
Not once does he act like this flick is beneath him or is he playing “camp,” even when he takes an infamous request from the online community and delivers a line of exasperated dialogue that he'll inevitably be associated with for the rest of his life… Jackson is fully committed here.
Jackson, along with another FBI man named Sanders, must escort Sean to Los Angeles. No easy task, as Kim has many people in his employ with tentacles that reach far and wide.
In our climate of post 9/11 security, it’s decided that a commercial airliner will provide the safest transportation… especially since Sean’s presence will be kept secret.
The method how Kim discovers this is admittedly cheesy, but it’s also economical. That’s the whole point… as no time is wasted getting that deadly cargo onto the plane. This film will never be accused of false advertising.
There’s a mix of stock characters on the flight. They range from the obligatory cute kids, to a rapper and his entourage and, of course, two adventurous members of the mile high club.
The gorgeous Rachel Blanchard is a particularly welcome sight, playing a passenger who suffers from a really bad case of “High Anxiety,” but I was particularly taken with the two flight attendants in the movie.
Sunny Mabrey plays a cute stewardess who develops a fondness for Sean, but it’s actually Julianna Marguiles, as a flight attendant seemingly trained by Lt. Ripley from “Aliens,” who makes the strongest impression. She and Jackson share a great rapport.
As everyone knows, once the flight is underway… all hell breaks loose, namely the slithery cargo that was smuggled onboard.
The CGI snakes look much better in the film than they do in the trailers and TV commercials I'd seen, especially in the dark cargo area. (Thankfully, there was a harpoon handy down there.)
Director David Ellis does a good job playing into our natural fear of snakes… and it doesn't matter whether they're CGI or real, it’s unnerving to see them attack so aggressively. Don't be surprised if you wind up checking your feet a lot during the movie.
What I wasn’t expecting was a pretty decent “B” story concurrently taking place on the ground, as investigators attempt to ascertain who supplied the snakes for this insidious plot, as many of them are exotic and illegal, as well as how to deal with the situation should the plane ever land.
It’s truly freaky to listen to some of the dialogue scenes on the plane with the sounds of rattlers in the background. The audio work deserves special kudos.
Obviously any movie named “Snakes On A Plane” has a sense of humor, but it’s not always obvious. Lin Shaye plays one of the flight attendants and is quite funny, especially in light of the action movie cliche of being “two weeks from retirement,” but her ultimate fate is also surprisingly heroic and touching.
The director, screenwriters and snakes show no mercy. The attacks are unremitting and even child passengers get a taste of venom. This is the ultimate movie to see with an audience. There will be pandemonium in the theater, especially during the finale.
Actually, reviewers should be forced to see this film with a paying crowd… because that’s who it was made for. The public embraced this picture from the very beginning. In a sense, it belongs to them… and the spirit of William Castle will be looking down on opening day, proudly.
Yes, Samuel L. Jackson does bellow that expletive filled summation of his situation and it is sure to bring the house down. He doesn't disappoint in his delivery and there’s not a dollop of parody when he yells it. (The sad thing is, most audiences will miss what he says afterwards… but I guess that’s what DVDs are for.)
The studio should publicly thank the bloggers because I can't imagine this movie without that deliriously over the top line of dialogue. It’s exactly what you pay hard earned money to hear Sam Jackson say… and the placement of the line, they make you wait a long time, is sheer genius.
The finale of “Snakes On A Plane” is a mix of logic and lunacy. Without giving anything away, one of the passengers is forced to pilot the plane and his previous landing experience comes as a shock to everyone. I found it hilarious… and it was intentionally so.
In a way the ending serves as a reminder that, despite all the shocks, gore and mayhem that preceded it… this movie was intended as a good time. It’s meant to be fun… and is.
C’mon, be honest. At the end of the day, what would you rather see? Something called “Snakes On A Plane” or “The Lake House?”