Snakes on a Plane Reviews
Snakes on a Plane is a film with nothing in disguise. Its title promises a blatantly obvious generic contract, and within a few minutes of the film viewers witness clear product placement and a story that cuts straight to the point. What becomes apparent very soon is the fact that David R. Ellis' intentions for Snakes on a Plane is for it to succeed as both a legitimate disaster film and a parody of one. One of the most surprising things about the film is the fact that Snakes on a Plane successfully finds a balance between these two elements.
Snakes on a Plane has a genuine scary story to it, even though the internal logic and genuine notion of it all is rather ridiculous. The film's convergence of the creature feature genre with a story much like the one from Airport (1970) gives it two major hooks for tension, yet it does not take that path singularly. In actual fact, the film is lighthearted in nature and always maintains a sense of humour about what its doing. The film is proudly absurd with all of its ridiculous plot dynamics and self-parody humour which makes it difficult to be genuinely scared by the experience, but instead it allows the film to be a genuinely fun experience. The characters in Snakes on a Plane are clearly all parodies of archetypes from disaster movies and the actors who portray them are all very cheesy in their attempts, adding clear-cut humourous intentions to the film. The feature works as a proud self-parody which means that it knows its limitations and works with them, and the experience is ultimately fun.
Ensuring that it lives up to a sufficient number of cliches to match its intentionally generic nature, Snakes on a Plane begins by giving viewers a background to the two main characters and the reason behind the disaster as well as taking some brief moments to characterize many of the archetypes that are entering flight with them. Aside from that, the film doesn't attempt to build a plot, it simply pulls snakes out and then throws them at viewers repeatedly the whole time. A lot of viewers are likely to consider this too repetitive for its own good particularly if they cannot embrace the absurdist nature of the film, but those who acknowledge the title of the film when going in to see it can know what to expect. The thing about a good disaster film is that it primarily needs two things: good visual effects and a creative collection of ways to show them off. In Snakes on a Plane, the visual effects are fairly good though not groundbreaking, and the way they are used delivers precisely what fans would be hoping for.
Snakes on a Plane gleefully throws an never ending flurry of disaster movie cliches, cheesy dialogue and blood at the viewer. The blood is the element which is clearly in the highest demand, and David R. Ellis works hard to live up to that. As a result, he casts a collection of real snakes and CGI snakes out to attack all the characters in a collection of creative ways. They sneak in from all different places and bite characters in the most unconventional locations, giving the film an effective exploitation nature which never ends up going too heavy. There is an effective balance between genuine horror and deadpan comedy in Snakes on a Plane so that its a fun and easy experience to watch without taking away from the intense nature of the horror themes. The concept itself is fairly laughable, and Snakes on a Plane takes that notion and runs with it so that it can be a legitimate disaster film and a parody of one at the same time.
And between the scenes of snakes attacking everything in sight, the cast in Snakes on a Plane manage to make the cliche script work to a comic benefit.
Samuel L. Jackson is the primary non-snake gimmick to carry Snakes on a Plane to the end. Anyone can tell you that one of the greatest moments in the film is when he delivers the line "Enough is enough. I have had it with these motherf*cken snakes on this motherf*cken plane" because it is the endeavour of the over-the-top energy he has spent the entire film building up. While everyone around him puts in cheesy efforts, Samuel L. Jackson is the one actor bent on taking the film seriously. As a result, he unleashes a hilarious epitome of all his most stereotypical traits amalgamated into a single effort. He delivers the dramatic material with a hard-hitting attitude and a determination to really make the tension of the film a reality for the character Neville Flynn while proudly shouting with every inch of spirit he's got
Bobby Cannavale also manages to deliver a firm dramatic effort in his small appearance.
When it comes to the actors who deliver the B-movie spirit to the feature, the standout is Nathan Phillips. The Australian actor who made a name for himself in Wolf Creek brings his charms to American audiences, even if they come in the form of monotonously milking his native accent. He has a handsome athletic appeal to him which effectively supplies the masculine edge to the film and the physical energy to keep up with the many intense plot dynamics that get thrown at him as the film goes on. Nathan Phillips' thin facade of masculinity sets him up as an ideal one-dimensional protagonist and he works well alongside Samuel L. Jackson.
And the comic touch of David Koechner and especially Kenan Thompson breathe some light energy into the comic side of the film
So for better and for worse, Snakes on a Plane lives up to its title and delivers a large flurry of snake attacks and plenty of blood with lighthearted comic undertones at the helm of the cheesy script and cast, led in a solid effort by Samuel L. Jackson.
There is a plot here so let me break it down for you. Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) witnesses a brutal murder at the hands of a gangster. He is sent via plane to testify against the villain but our antagonist won't have that happen. To circumvent the metal detection and sophisticated security measures implemented to protect Sean, crates of snakes are put on-board. With all of the Monday-to-Friday snakes on this matter-factoring plane, can FBI Agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) save the day and ensure that justice is carried out?
In some ways, the disappointing thing about "Snakes on a Plane" is that it's well made. It isn't really a B movie that's prime for poking fun at because everyone involved knew this plot was madness. There are some scenes of snake-induced death that are goofy and over-the-top (mostly involving naked people being bitten in inappropriate places) but there's no question that it's self-aware. You can't really make fun of the people dying and the obvious jokes when those fatalities do happen seem juvenile. The tone shifts back and forth between some deaths being played for drama and others being totally played for laughs. It often plays more like an action film than a comedy, basically a "crisis on a plane" film with snakes thrown in.
Maybe if the villain had been really over-the-top and shown as a mad scientist that just loves snakes this would have worked better. The idea of a madman or madwoman determined to prove how evolutionary superior to man these legless assassins are, maybe with a Count of Monte Cristo style revenge plot to make some rival scientists pay is what this missing for me. An added plot about a demented love for snakes would have been that extra blast of energy that would have made this the kind of loveable camp story that you would expect from the title. As is, the villain is very uninteresting and only shows up for one scene so he feels like an after-thought. The movie has plenty of cheesy "monster vision" thrown in at least a couple of good one-liners (the most famous of which unfortunately doesn't come up during the picture's climax, but is nevertheless a blast to hear).
As a thriller, "SoaP" is mostly effective, with the characters constantly trying to surmount the increasing obstacles in their way. Whether that means those pesky slitherers, panic among the passengers, turbulence and malfunctions or crucial members of the crew becoming unable to fulfil their tasks varies. The characters are smart and it's interesting to see them work together to try and make it out alive.
It's not really that this Internet phenomena of a picture ends up bad, it's that it won't be what you expect. It's not going to be a classic like "The Room" or "Wicker Man". And yes, I do understand that it delivers what it promises, but I still wanted something more. It's enjoyable but once again, not necessarily what you expect. "Snakes on a Plane" isn't a "so bad it's good" movie with a wacky premise but it is well made and it's got some good moments. (On Dvd, February 18, 2013)