Brief Movie Review: Snakes on a Plane

It’s been a while since this was initially released, and so this review will likely be too late for most of you to find the film locally, if you feel so inclined. Fortunately, what I say here will probably not entice you to put forth the effort.

I don’t know if it was meant to be a horror film or an action film. It certainly wasn’t a comedy or drama. This lack of identifiable genre hurts its intention to entertain, as it will only attract a certain crowd: those who love Samuel L. Jackson, and those who love disaster films (which is not a real genre). SoaP may eventually show up on the “Cult” shelf of your video shop, but that shelf usually means, “movies found here will entertain specific people, and your attempts to quote lines from it will only invite ridicule or activate geek-dar.”

Much of the early hype got me excited, but since I spend so much time online, that was inevitable. In the few months before release, I no longer cared to see the film, because there was literally nothing to know about it. There are snakes on a plane and Sam Jackson swears a lot. The overhype and so many people talking about it made me lose interest. On the Hollywood Stock Exchange, predictions ran towards a near $80 million domestic take, I figured it wouldn’t make $50 million. Early interest would garner a good first weekend, then with everyone who saw it telling everyone who didn’t what happens, no one else would need to see it. As of this writing, it has made less than $35 million in the US (not even in the top 45 for the week). I also predicted that the advance screenings of Serenity would hurt its box office, and I was flamed on internet messageboards about it, but I ended up perfectly correct, but that’s another story.

I waited a month to see it, and I should have waited longer. Granted, it is meant to be a silly, late summer film, the type where you are supposed to leave your brain behind. That could have helped, because I thought of several potential logistical problems during the film. If you haven’t seen the film, these may be considered spoilers, but that really doesn’t matter with this film.

How do you smuggle hundreds of deadly snakes into Hawai’i and onto a major airline carrier undetected? How do they not kill each other before they get released into the cabin? Snakes are ectothermic, so how are they so active and lively when they get released? Aren’t cargo holds extremely cold, since they are not sealed off like the passenger cabin? Why would they not escape early through the massive air holes cut into the wooden carry box? What if someone had placed a lot of luggage in front of the snake box, preventing the doors from opening? Why would anyone think a shoddy wall of carry-on luggage would stop something that can slither through tiny holes? How does a snake travel through the vacuum toilet plumbing system? Why does no one replace the door in the floor of the cockpit leading to under the plane so no one can fall in? Why does the flight attendant who is on “one last run” go back for the baby, in the process destroying the carry-on luggage wall? Isn’t it her responsibility to protect as many passengers as she can? Has she not seen the end of Star Trek II? Why does no one sterilize the pin with alcohol of flame (or both) before breaking the blister on the arm of the young boy? Why does the witness take Jackson surfing at the end when he should be hiding from gang retaliation?

And so on.

What was good? Nathan Phillips as the witness, he’s an Australian actor with an impressive resume. I’ve seen several of his films, he’s made ten in the last four years. Sunny Mabrey as the hot flight attendant was also a surprising bonus. Now to seek out her previous film “One Last Thing…

What wasn’t so good? Samuel Jackson was very uninteresting in this role. Now I get what people were talking about when they criticized Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code, saying the role could have been played by anyone. Even the reshoots so Jackson could add in his hotly anticipated line of swearing was completely anticlimactic.

Hedgehogs on a Hummer is better.

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