Wednesday, August 23, 2006

SNAKES ON A PLANE: Or Why Is Your seat Belt Moving?

SNAKES ON A PLANE (disaster movie)
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Philips and Rachel Blanchard
Director: David R. Ellis
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * * ½ (out of 4)

Jackson and a motherf-----g snake
PREAMBLE: This is certainly a harrowing time for air travellers. If news on TV of recently tightened security checks at airports worldwide is not enough to stress them out, this Snakes On A Plane caper will definitely make their skin crawl. Unless they are snake lovers like Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin or Steve Irwin, of course. Anyway, with a title like that, anyone brave (or foolish) enough to buy a ticket to this movie should know what he is in for. Advance publicity on the Internet has garnered such a cult following for the movie that it is almost critic-proof. Yeah, what we say won’t matter to its fans, but for those on the fence, just ask yourself: Do I really want to see how snakes kill people on a plane and vice versa?

WHAT’S IT ABOUT? The premise is really a no-brainer: Surfing dude Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) witnesses the brutal killing of a public prosecutor in Hawaii and finds his life in danger. Just when the mobsters are at his door, he is rescued by FBI agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) and taken on a ‘red eye’ (early morning) flight to Los Angeles where he will testify against the mob boss, Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson). By now, you should know what Eddie does to stop Sean from testifying. Yes, he has a crate of poisonous snakes smuggled into the plane so that they can escape from the cargo hold, create havoc on board and cause the plane to crash. Now, if you think that this is a hare-brained scheme, wait till you see what happens next.

HIGHLIGHTS: Director David Ellis makes good use of all the stock flight situations to get the panic and the laughs. On board the flight, we have the usual motley crowd (read: snake victims) like the egocentric rock star and his aides, a couple of travel-alone kids, a mother and baby, a randy honeymoon couple and a haughty, hostile Briton who, we can safely conclude, would not make it out alive. You can also pick out the heroes and heroines easily. That would be flight attendants Claire (Julianna Margulies) and Tiffany (Sunny Mabry), and of course, lead star Jackson who gets to mouth the coolest lines, kick-ass and kill snakes all through the journey.

Ellis rightly emphasises on comedic horror and there are some witty moments, especially when a ‘Mile High Club’ couple gets it in the toilet. Unlike in the Anaconda films, there are few gory scenes. The snake attacks are mostly sudden flashes accompanied by loud music. Ellis also films some shots (in green) from the snakes’ perspective but they do nothing to heighten suspense or tension.

LOWLIGHTS: The action even gets tedious halfway when the snakebites and panic situations are recycled and repeated. Our interest only picks up near the ending when Flynn comes up with a radical solution to the snakes problem.

THE LOWDOWN: After so many snake-attack movies, there is nothing memorable here. This is just a cult film and if you are really into such stuff, book a ticket, fasten your seat belt and have a good fright.


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