Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Directed by: David R Ellis & Lex Halaby
Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips, Rachel Blanchard, Flex Alexander
Snakes on a Plane was massively hyped before its arrival, mainly due to its funny title. Having finally seen it, I’m kind of glad that I didn’t spend a bunch of money on seeing it in the cinema, since the actual movie is nowhere near as fun as it ought to be.
The story: An FBI agent, played by Samuel L Jackson, is transporting an important trial witness from point A to point B. The bad guy that is being prosecuted has decided to eliminate this witness in a way that makes your average Bond villain seem like an efficiency expert: he lets a bunch of really, really aggressive snakes loose onboard. Hysteria ensues.
The problem with Snakes on a Plane isn’t really that it’s a much worse film than other genre colleagues – it’s bad, but I’ve seen worse. The basic problem, however, is that the filmmakers very obviously have tried to make a ‘cult movie’, and that rarely works very well. You can make a tribute to crap movies, like Tarantino and Rodriguez did with Grindhouse, or you can produce a piece of unpretentious and campy B-movie fun like Eight-Legged Freaks. But Snakes on a Plane can’t really decide if it should be a B-movie parody or just a B-movie, and so ends up being something stupid and generally useless.
The first third or so of the movie is awful. It’s a disaster movie for people who think recent years’ parody flicks are good comedy. Not only is the plane full of vicious snakes, but they insist on biting people on their dicks or their (gratuitiously nude) breasts, or crawling up the skirt of the fat lady. Wow, that’s…fun?
The movie gets a little better when the plot focuses on passengers and crew trying stop the snakes and survive (naturally, both pilots have been bitten and the only guy who can land the plane is the videogamer who’s played a flight simulator on his Playstation). Still, the gross-out moments feel very disconnected as if added on as an afterthought to spice up the somewhat lackluster action, and everybody acts as if they were in Scary Movie.
Given my predilection for OTT disaster flicks I should like this better than I do. The self-consciousness of it all, along with the puerile humour, kills it for me. Also, some people seem to think that Samuel L Jackson is just about the coolest guy around. I don’t agree: in my mind, he is an okay actor who appears in a lot of thrash and rarely rises above the surroundings. This one doesn’t change my opinion.