Movie Review #764 | Alexander Diminiano
Directed by David R. Ellis. Screenplay by John Heffernan and Sebastian Gutierrez. Story by David Dalessandro and John Heffernan. Produced by Craig Berenson, Don Granger, and Gary Levinsohn for Meradin Zweite Productions and Eyetronics, presented by New Line Cinema, produced by Mutual Film Company. Music video “Bring It” produced by Jason Linn, Cathy Pallo, and Mark Allan Staubach. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips, Rachel Blanchard, Flex Alexander, and Kenan Thompson. Distributed by New Line Cinema in wide release on August 18, 2006. Also released in Germany on September 7, 2006. Rated R: language, a scene of sexuality and drug use, and intense sequences of terror and violence. Runs 105 minutes.
Part of the reason “B-movies” are generally higher quality in their entertainment value than “A-movies” doesn’t even have much to do with the movie itself. In some cases, the freedom of not having a Hollywood studio on one’s back 24/7 leads to a title that is as entertaining as the movie itself (or more entertaining). Need some examples? How about “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers”, “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things”, “Hobo with a Shotgun”, “They Saved Hitler’s Brain”, “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies”, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”, “Disco Beaver from Outer Space”, “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom”, “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”…
…and “Snakes on a Plane”. Okay, so maybe this isn’t a B-movie. It’s a Hollywood motion picture made on a budget of $30 million, not $30 thousand. But it certainly succeeded in making a mainstream movie out of the B-movie genre. Granted, it’s silly, but so are most true B-movies. The concept is that an FBI agent is on his way to trial with the witness for the prosecution, and seemingly out of nowhere, snakes are unleashed and they have to kill or be killed. Is it a cliché that something bad always happens on cinematic red-eye flights? Kinda, yeah. But the best cliché in this whole movie happens to be the first kill we see. A snake climbs through the bathroom ceiling and decides to feast on a couple that is madly having sex below. The incident is marvelously downplayed by the flight attendants, who are completely unaware of the invading snakes. It’s the best scene in the movie, save for the obvious, but there’s more of that same scene throughout the whole movie.
Later in the movie, the tale begins to fall under its own trap, and starts to inhibit itself within the flaws that are natural to a B-movie. I’m referring to those plotholes, loose ends, and what have you. It’s suggested about halfway through that there’s a reason the snakes are attacking, because after all, they have to be provoked in order to go ballistic. This idea is dropped for a while and as we get more action sequences, we start to wonder why, in fact, these snakes are attacking so wildly. There’s an answer placed suddenly at or near the end of the film, I believe, but the explanation is far from clear. Ditto the explanation of who was behind the crime of letting the snakes onto the plane. There’s absolutely no logic in that either, because the criminal is discovered so suddenly. How we can even be sure that this was he who let these mighty beasts loose is a difficult question.
There’s more to add. Like how does some guy who’s obsessed with a flight simulator video game land a real plane with absolutely no piloting experience? I guess we are supposed to just brush it off with “because it’s a movie.” I don’t know. But I don’t really care about all that went wrong with this B-movie spoof, ’cause Samuel L. Jackson is awesome in this movie. You’d probably be lying if you said you didn’t just love his performance. Seriously, if nothing else makes “Snakes on a Plane” worth watching, it’s the buildup to the greatest line in all of his career: “I have had it with these motherf–king snakes on this motherf–king plane!” I swear a line like that tops off every line the man utters in “Pulp Fiction” and his current Capital One commercials. We should just build him a province in Hollywood already, and call it Jacksonville. ✴