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August 2006

SNAKE ON A PLANE

by Wilson Morales

SNAKE ON A PLANE

Distributor: New Line Cinema
Director: David R. Ellis
Producers: Craig Berenson, Don Granger, Gary Levinsohn
Screenwriters: Sebastian Gutierrez, John Heffernan, David Loucka
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Flex Alexander, Kenan Thompson, Rachel Blanchard, Juliana Margulies, Nathan Phillips, Tygh Runyan, David Koechner, and Bobby Cannavale
   



 

Let’s face it. When we heard that Samuel L. Jackson was doing a film called “Pacific Air121”, no one knew what the film was about until Sam basically said it’s about snakes on a place. Enough said, the title, as cheesy as it sounds, was changed to “Snakes on a Plane” and a whole new life was born. The internet buzz was hyping this film into a phenomenon. The last time a buzz occurred like this was “The Blair Witch Project”, but with at least that film, a few folks had seen the film at the Sundance Film Festival. With Snakes, no one had seen the film. In the hopes of cashing in big on opening weekend, after all, it’s all about the money, New Line Cinema had made an announcement that they wouldn’t be screening the film for critics, not even for their own staff. What a bunch of liars! Someone had to screen the film so the word can come out. Well, in the hopes of doing what everyone else does, a few theaters showed the film on Thursday night at 10pm. While it may have been late enough for print film critics to get reviewed in papers for Friday’e edition, it’s of course, never late for an online film critic, and behold, I must say that after the worrying the film would get trashed, New Line has nothing to fear, for “Snakes on a Plane” is a thrill, seeking, action-packed joy ride that have you jumping in your seats.

Like the horror and disaster films of the past, there really isn’t any logic to this film. With the title as it is, you have to go into the film knowing exactly what you’re going to see. People will die. It’s a just of matter of time and how gruesome. As the film starts of in Hawaii, a man (Nathan Phillips) is jogging along some road when he stumbles upon some guy hanging upside down from a tree and quickly hides in the bushes as the guy is beaten to death with a bat by mobster Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson). Soon enough, without any explanation, the mob tracks down the witness to his house and has him cornered until FBI agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) appears from the back and saves him from being killed. While in police custody, the witness is told by Jackson that he has plenty of options but his best choice to fly to LA and testify against Kim otherwise he’s a dead man. As they board the plane, and we see other characters with their traits. Kim has discovered their route and executes his plan into actions. Once the plane has flown some feet above ground, and a timer seen on screen gets to zero, several cartons on boxes explode and the kingdom of snakes appear out of the blue. It isn’t long before they cut circuits, make their way around the plane and enough is said. Why ruin the fun? You just have to see for yourself how they kill and kill and kill. It will have you squirming in your seats.

With a film given the title, you seriously can’t walk in here and expect some Shakespearian dialogue, even with a thespian like Sam Jackson as the lead. You have to admire Jackson for taking a film like this. As the hardest working man in the business, with about 2-3 films in theaters yearly, he’ll take on a film that just pleases him. Unlike this year’s “Poseidon”, this guilty pleasure exceeds by not taking itself seriously. All of the actors from Julianna Marguiles as the head stewardess to Flex Alexander as the rapper who can’t be touch, to Kenan Thompson as his childhood friend/ bodyguard to the unkown Bruce Lee look-alike, play their roles with nothing to lose; but the film ultimately belongs to the snakes, despite Jackson’s one-liners and heroic stunts. Renowned snake handler Jules Sylvester did an amazing job getting the enormous amount of snakes to move certain way as they killed and killed. My knowledge of snakes is only of rattlesnakes, cobras, and anacondas, and that’s only by sight. I couldn’t tell you what the rest of the snakes were, but the entire family and generations of snakes were there on board Pacific flight 121. This is a film given its plight that has nothing to lose. It’s done its job. Certainly an edge-of-your-seat, crowd-pleasing, action-packed film to see for the summer.