"Snakes on a Plane"
Directed by David R. Ellis.
Written by John Heffernan and Sebastian Gutierrez.
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Nathan Phillips, Julianna Margulies
and Bobby Canavale.
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 8/18/06
Let's get it out of the way--I still can't
believe that "Snakes on a Plane" was this good.
Charles "Chuck" Longer and I were hyping
this movie since January, and the buzz around the new Samuel L.
Jackson horror/comedy/action film has been nothing short of
ridiculous. So, after rounding up a lot of people to come
check out a 10 PM preview of the film tonight, expectations were
high. Probably too high. I had on my "SOAP" t-shirt
(thanks, Chuck); the stadium theater in Tysons was packed; people
were chanting "Snakes, Snakes, Snakes!" before the movie started;
lots of people started hissing anytime it was quiet. When the
house went dark and the credits rolled, complete with credits that
drew the first of many ovations, I was as pumped as I have been all
year to start a movie.
The first ten minutes of the film sucked.
Sucked! But, you have to set up a reason why we get some
snakes on a plane in the first place: a motorcycle rider named
Sean (Nathan Phillips), just passing through a path on his way home
in Honolulu, witnesses a brutal murder of an LA prosecutor at the
hands of renowned criminal Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson). Upon
returning home, he sees that some of Kim's guys are trying to take
him out, but--whoosh!--in drops FBI Agent Nelville Flynn (Jackson),
who takes out these baddies and whisks Sean away to a safe house.
Flynn gives Sean a couple of options--fly to LA and testify against
Eddie Kim as a key witness in the murder case, or go back home and
die at the hands of Kim and his men. So, off we go! To
give him a measure of protection, Flynn decides to fly Sean back to
LA under light cover in a commercial airliner...but, Kim gets wind
of the deal, so he stashes a time-release box in the cargo hold that
is full of snakes. That's right, snakes--sure, it would have
been easier to just plant a bomb on the plane, and cheaper, and
easier, but then we would have no movie.
And, there you have it.
After we get to the plane, "Snakes on a
Plane" quite simply becomes the most hilarious, frenetic,
gratuitously profane, bare-breast-ridden and violent movie of the
year...and I fucking loved it. From the hodgepodge of
passengers we get just enough people to love, hate and feel sorry
for, while not requiring that everyone needs to die; to the sheer
energy of the snake kills (enough to keep you happy, just the right
amount of variety...jeez, I'm still trying to count them all up
between snake bite, snake eye gouge, snake nipple bite, snake swing
from the...oh, I'll let you discover that one on your own);
SnakeVision, a PredatorVision-like ripoff where we get to see some
kills from the eyes of the snakes; shit, "SOAP" even features a
"Rain Man"-like snake expert and a mysterious snake wrangler that
needs to be apprehended from an FBI team based in LA (led by an
agent played by Bobby Canavale).
"SOAP" was fucking fantastic. I really
didn't think that the hype would play out into a fun movie, but I
was wrong...once the snakes get going, this is a fun horror flick.
We get a lot of dying, but director David R. Ellis (who did
serviceable work with two films that should have really sucked,
"Final Destination 2" and
"Cellular") does great things with some
surprise kills--good jumps are a requirement in a good horror
flick--and some solid set-up kills, i.e. kills where you know
somebody is going to die, they show us the killer/bad guy/snake, and
the execution is still solid, maybe none better than when the guy
goes into one of the restrooms and...oh boy. We even get a
solid dog-gets-punted-off-bridge moment midway through when a pet
gets it unnecessarily. All the while, our crowd was all over
this thing...any time it got quiet, someone would start hissing,
getting the whole crowd into it each time we thought a snake was
near. They howled over every funny line--none more so than The
Best Film Moment of the Year, when Sam drops what is and/or will
become the film's signature line, "I'm sick of these MOTHERFUCKIN'
snakes on this MOTHERFUCKIN' plane!!"--and the energy carried all
the way through to the ending. (Second-place candidate:
"This plane's going down faster than a Thai hooker!")
Wow, I'm fired up right now...do me a favor.
Don't wait to see "SOAP" in a couple of weeks, on a Tuesday after a
long day at the office. Go see it this weekend, get some
friends, get sauced up if you have to, and just come in with an open
mind. I'm telling you, you will have a great time at the
movies if you do. This is now the frontrunner for best film of
the year, and I really didn't think that was possible until now.
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard