Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Snakes on a Plane (2006)

Snakes on a Plane (David R. Ellis, 2006)

There was a whole lot of interest surrounding Snakes on a Plane before it was released. There was this whole issue about the title which the producers sought to change, but was retained with the insistence upon by star Samuel L. Jackson (who accepted the role without having read the script, mainly due to the title). The producers were actually endangering their project when they thought about changing the title, as it is the title that carried the unquestionable charm of the film. It's just so direct, it's genius --- the entire plot, its conceits, the full film, within the confines of the two major words of the four-word title: snakes and plane.

To even describe the plot will be an insult to the intelligence, but since I'm in the mood for insults, here I go. FBI agent Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) accompanies prosecution witness Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) on a Hawaii to Los Angeles flight aboard a commercial jet plane. Top thug and enemy of the state Eddie Kim devices a plan to prevent the witness from ever reaching the court by, umm, filling the plane with different types of poisonous and dangerous snakes. It is up to Flynn, crew, and the passengers of the flight to ensure that they survive the journey with those pheromone-high slitherers.

Those seeking to find something deep or intellectual from this film will be sorely disappointed. This is what you may accurately describe as brainless fun. It is a B-movie creature feature that got late a few decades when those type of features were the toast of the movie-going town. Of course, it got some help from the advent of computer technology and animatronics, and it is actually quite obvious which of the snakes are real and which aren't. The fakeness of the serpents however does not dampen the experience, as it is not the snakes which bring out the fun in the film, but the manner of their attacks, and the multitude of deaths, all gory and wonderfully humorous.

The screenplay doesn't bother to provide rich characterizations. The writers basically point out which of the characters are mere annoyances, and which are probably favorable for survival, and which of them are plot-movers. The annoying characters all get ghastly deaths, and their deaths are usually coupled with a dose of sarcasm which doubles the fun. Those favorable for survival are those characters wherein you are sort of iffy if you want them alive or dead. Their characterizations are much thicker than most of the cardboard cut-outs, but they're basically there since a creature feature won't be a whole lot of fun with only a couple or more characters for the truckload of snakes to snack on or at least frighten.

Now, I'm not saying that Snakes on a Plane is great cinema. It's merely enjoyable. Direction is passable, writing is mostly for laughs as it garnered a dose of chuckles from me. Technicals is quite nasty, but that goes hand in hand with B-movies wherein cheesiness and corniness in production composes part of the charm. Acting is bad, in a good way. Jackson joins the pack by actually acting quite horrendously, which in this case, is quite good since at least, he's not sticking out like a sore thumb by trying hard to make something serious out of this ridiculous film. Jackson's personality carries the film. His inherent coolness drives the film into a delirious madness that will erupt in what will probably be the coolest line in the film, "Enough is enough, I've had it with these motherfuckin' snakes in this motherfuckin' plane." I can't imagine any other actor delivering that line with comfortable and believable ease as Jackson.


Reel Fanatic said...

Whether it's "great cinema" or not may indeed be debatable, but I can without doubt tell you this .. SoaP was the most fun I've had at the movies since King Kong .. I can't believe it do so (relatively) poorly at the box office

Oggs Cruz said...

Oh well,

You just can't trust them movie-goers. You give them good cinema, they snob it. You give them good bad cinema (which SoaP is), they still snob it. But you feed them Bruckheimer, Bay, and Hollywood crap, they munch it like there's no tomorrow. Sigh.