Snakes on a Plane (2006)

Snakes on a Plane (2006)

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy the fright.

After Sean Jones witnesses powerful mobster Eddie Kim brutally murdering a prosecutor hell bent on putting him behind bars, experienced FBI Agent Neville Flynn convinces him to fly to LA to testify against Kim. However, Kim has stowed a crate of poisonous snakes on board the plane which are released in mid-air with the aim of bringing down the plane and any potential witnesses.

 

I’m not going to trawl back through the whole history of this film to start my review. Other reviews will have done it a lot more in-depth and I’m pretty sure everyone gets the gist of the phenomena behind the film. The whole internet thing from developing the story, to adding lines and demanding more violence is well documented. It’s certainly a unique hands-on approach with ‘fan power’ dictating a great deal of how the film was to turn out but given the disappointing box office returns, I don’t think Snakes on a Plane is going to usher in a whole new era of filmmaking from the comfort of the couch at home. The only thing on anyone’s lips right now shouldn’t be how it was made but whether it is any good or not. That can be answered with one word – Yes.

I must state on the record that Snakes on a Plane wasn’t as good as I had hoped. I was expecting something a little more cheap and cheerful along the lines of Eight-Legged Freaks. I was expecting the characters to ham it up a lot more. I was expecting more throwaway dialogue and a few more in-jokes and spoofs of other films. But forgetting all of that, the film is still one hell of an entertaining way to spend one hundred and five minutes. To be fair there wasn’t really a lot that could go wrong with this premise, even if director David R. Ellis had completely messed it up. He was on a win/win either way which is a bit of a cop-out. All he had to do was make sure the right buttons were pressed and he does. There’s the obligatory character development before they all get on board the plane. It’s almost like placing a bet on a horse. You do a bit of research first, see how each horse has been performing and decide which horse you’re going to wager your money on. Here it’s no different. Each character is given a few minutes to emit something like a personality and all you have to do is decide who is going to survive. There’s the obnoxious businessman (doomed). There’s the soon-to-be-retiring air hostess (doomed). There’s the horny couple (doomed). There’s the secondary cop (doomed). There’s the young, pretty air hostess (safe). There’s a baby on board (safe as houses). You get the message. It’s good to see such an array of clichéd characters – normally I’d have a bitch about this but given the nature of the film, anything but cardboard cut-out characters would have been supremely disappointing.

It isn’t long before the snakes are released and get doing some serious damage. These pesky things slither everywhere: up toilets (in a scene which will no doubt have guys triple-checking the toilets before taking a leak), up trousers (giving a new meaning to the phrase ‘trouser snake’) and lurking around in sick bags too. The snakes don’t look too bad. You can tell which are real and which are CGI. I guess that’s another reason why to cheer the film – it doesn’t make any bones about not having the greatest effects in the world. It just gets on with them and says take it or leave it.

The dialogue is quality. You’ve got Samuel L. Jackson’s immortal line “Enough is enough! I’ve had it with these mother f*****g snakes on this mother f*****g plane!” which will go down as an all-time classic. But there’s plenty of other great one-liners including one where the lights on the plane go out, prompting an extra to shout “it’s the snakes!” at the top of their voice. A lot of other lines involve characters saying things like “get this f*****g snake off my (insert body part here)”

Samuel L. Jackson does seem to be trying a bit too hard to turn this into a cult flick though and it’s clear that he is leading from the front in trying to be too self-conscious. The rest of the cast don’t do that bad either. There’s a whole host of familiar names in there, although none really famous on the big screen (Julianna Margulies from E.R. is there, as is David Koechner from Anchorman and Kenan Thompson from Kenan & Kel). They add a bit of credibility to the characters they’re playing although anyone truly famous in the supporting roles would have just been wasted.

 

After all of the hype, Snakes on a Plane turns into a better-than-average horror thriller that doesn’t quite live up to it’s potential but certainly delivers a smack across the faces of those who doubted it at the beginning. It’s self-conscious, knows what it wants to be and also knows its own limitations of what it can’t be. It never pushes the boundaries of the genre too much which is what I was hoping for but it’s still a fun, entertaining way to waste some time with Samuel L. and a horde of pythons, boas and anacondas. Everything just blends together so well into a neat little package.

 

 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

 

 

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