Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Snakes on a Plane (USA, 2006)

(Trailer) With a title like Snakes on a Plane, only someone with the brain of President Bush would probably have doubts about what the flick might actually be about. The rest of us, however, should have no problem sizing the film up for what it is: Another modern, Hollywood B-film.
Complicated and deep it ain’t, as the title indeed says it all. A bunch of snakes are let loose on a plane and all sorts of stuff that one might expect would happen if the inane situation were really to happen happens — and then some. About the only thing the title might leave one wondering is what series of events could possibly lead up to such a situation — especially since the plane in question is a red-eye special going from Hawaii to L.A., and Hawaii is still a place that can claim to have no snakes (although that could change). There is actually one big plot-hole that sort of renders the whole scenario impossible, but hell, it’s a B-flick about snakes, for crying out loud, not some Spielberg message-flick. Who gives a damned about plot-holes when the ride is good? And the ride is good, even if the CGI does sometimes sink below the level of that other (much campier and more underrated) snake flick Anaconda (1997).
One-time stuntman turned director David R. Ellis took over the project from the great Hong Kong master Ronny Yu after the latter dropped out due to those famous "creative differences," and while Yu may have the longer track record for kinetic visual excitement, Ellis once again manages to deliver a fine genre film that, once started, puts its pedal to the metal and barrels down the highway of ridiculous thrills at top speed — much as he did in his two previous genre efforts, Final Destination II (2003) and Cellular (2004). And if he doesn’t quiet go the gory excesses of FDII, Ellis nonetheless has no problems in showing splattering blood, close-ups of oozing wounds and the side effects of deadly bites. Likewise, he and the scriptwriter(s) have no compunctions against having snakes go for the places that any 13-year-old would probably want worked into the script if asked. (Indeed, not only does one snake sink its fangs directly upon the love-button of a well-stacked topless blond, but another snakes adds considerable length to the one man’s appendage.)
The B-flick staple used to get the story rolling is that of the witness to an event. Sunny-boy Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips, who people might recognize from the prior year’s much better — and depressing — Aussie horror flick Wolf Creek) witnesses bad-boy Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson) kill some district attorney. The FBI tracks him down due to fingerprints on a pop can he leaves at the scene, but Kim knows who he is too, so when Sean gets on the red-eye express with his two FBI escorts — one an expendable victim, the other Samuel L. Jackson (as Neville “I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!“ Flynn) — a couple hundred crack-crazed snakes join the baggage with a timed unlocking device (of sorts). After the mandatory time required to introduce the various would-be victims and survivors, the plane takes off and mid-way across the deep-blue sea the snake-shit hits the fan. Those few that don’t die frothing at the mouth try to keep the snakes at bay until the plane can land... but, damn! The pilots are dead, too.
A silly but entertainingly fun flick with just enough love-interest (played by Julianna Margulies (looking as good as she did in the unduly vilified Ghost Ship (2002)) as Claire the Stewardess and Sunny Mabrey as Tiffany the Stewardess) for the viewer to know that the heroes are real men, Snakes on a Plane offers nothing new but is at least an exciting ride. In the end, the simplest truth about the flick is that if the title alone appeals to you on any level, you'll enjoy the flick; if the title seems remotely stupid or ridiculous to you, then you probably won't.

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