Anthony's Film Review
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
A movie that really sounds stupid at first, but is actually a decent thriller...
It is said that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover. The same definitely goes for movies, for which one might say that one shouldn't judge a movie by its title. The 2006 film Snakes on a Plane is a great way to test that notion. You see, there was plenty of talk about this movie because the title sounds really stupid, like the kind you would see for a B-movie, leading to the assumption that Snakes on a Plane would be a B-movie. In fact, it is said that its main star, Samuel L. Jackson, signed up for this movie after just hearing the title without having read the script beforehand. That, of course, is risky, because it just might be (gasp!) a B-movie.
Naturally, I went into this movie with those assumptions. I expected to either laugh at the absurdity of the whole thing and still give it a positive review, or dislike it and ultimately give it a negative review. Now that I've seen it, here's my verdict. I'm giving Snakes on a Plane a positive review, not because the movie has a terrible script but is still goofy and campy, but because it presents itself as a mostly serious thriller with just a few humorous moments thrown in. I'm not kidding, folks. This is not the B-movie you might assume it to be.
At first, the film spends plenty of time introducing the characters. They include Nathan Phillips as a man named Sean Jones who witnesses a beating by mobster Edward Kim, Samuel L. Jackson as FBI agent Neville Flynn who steps in to protect Sean, Flex Alexander as a rapper named Three G's, Kenan Thompson as Three G's bodyguard Troy, Rachel Blanchard as a woman named Mercedes who carries a chihuahua around, and Julianna Margulies as a flight attendant named Claire. All of these characters, plus several other minor characters, all come together on an airline flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles.
Once the characters get settled and the plane reaches an altitude of about 30,000 feet, something happens in the luggage compartment. There is a large package of flowers there, which bursts open when a device within, upon detecting the plane's high altitude, releases a horde of snakes. This is where the big question is. Does the movie get really stupid from this point on? First, I can tell you this. I didn't really lose interest during this scene. As unusual as this reptilian method of terror is, it's still an act of terror conceived by an evildoer. It just happens to not involve explosives.
Anyway, this is followed by shots of the snakes crawling through various nooks and crannies of the aircraft, accompanied by special effects that show us the snakes' visual perspective (not to mention the other purpose of putting the snakes on screen, assuming they're mostly CGI snakes). Then we see the first casualty, when a young man and woman start to have sex in the airplane lavatory but get bitten to death by snakes. After some more quiet scenes, we get a rather tense sequence where the snakes attack the passengers in the cabin. There is chaos and pandemonium as they scramble to fight or avoid the snakes. Some get killed right away in gruesome ways. Basically, any part of the body that is very sensitive will likely be a target for the snakes.
If the special effects were cheesy and the acting was lame, I might say this movie is a B-movie. But as it turns out, the thrills continue. Now the Samuel L. Jackson character takes the lead in managing this crisis situation. This is a good time for me to focus on two Jackson quotes from this movie that really sound stupid but actually aren't. One: "We have to put a barrier between us and the snakes!" Two: "I have had it with this m-----------g snakes on this m-----------g plane!" If you take these quotes out of context, they do sound like they're from movies with badly written scripts. But guess what? I didn't laugh at them as absurd, because Jackson delivers these lines seriously while the scene remains suspenseful. Also, hearing them makes us feel confident that this character knows what to do.
By the time the last 30 minutes came around, I threw out all of my prior assumptions about this movie. Snakes on a Plane is a fun-filled thrill ride that has occasional laughs but is otherwise tense and suspenseful. Whether it's the fear of the innocent passengers and crew on the plane or the FBI's efforts to get aid from a doctor specializing in poisons, there is plenty to enjoy in this film that really is best categorized as a genuine cinematic thriller. So if you hear judgments about this movie by those who actually haven't seen it, take it with a grain of salt. As someone who has seen it, I can assure you that it might not be as bad as you might think.
For more information about Snakes on a Plane, visit the Internet Movie Database.