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Snakes on a Plane (DVD)

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There are films to stir the senses. There are films to warm the heart. There are films to document history. There are films to scare you senseless. There are films to sell toys. And then, there are films to evoke giggle fits whenever a Massasauga Rattlesnake crawls out of a air-loo and suctions onto the closest crotch


Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips, Rachel Blanchard, Kenan Thompson

There are films to stir the senses. There are films to warm the heart. There are films to document history. There are films to scare you senseless. There are films to sell toys. And then, there are films to evoke giggle fits whenever a Massasauga Rattlesnake crawls out of a air-loo and suctions onto the closest crotch.

Yep, try as they might, – and they did, with not one territory allowing reviewers to see the film, not even by way of an in-season pass on its first day! – Nobody could keep this reviewer away from “Snakes on a Plane”. Like slowing down to watch a car crash, you just wanna know what the brouhaha is about. And this is some brouhaha.

The question then – and its a question the studio themselves have us reviewers asking, because they’ve banned us from seeing the film in advance, right? – Is just how ‘ssssssssucky’ is this thing?

In short, and surprisingly, it ain’t. Not at all. It’s exactly the film the title promises. No tomato was hurtled towards mesh screen during one during the film.

Its worth, though, will depend largely on your age, income, drink of choice and whether or not you’ve an annual membership to the state gallery – If you do, chances are you’re not going to be slapping the hands together – no, not like that, Julianna Margulies keeps her gear on – at the end of this one.

Remember Joe Dante’s “Gremlins” (1984)? Well leave in all the scares, jumps, bursts of humour and warped scenarios and replace the titular critters with swarms of venomous snakes and you’ve got “Snakes on a Plane”. Simple as that.

Samuel L.Jackson is our Zach Gallighan – I’m sure he’d love being called that! – A straight-up federal agent, escorting a star witness (Australian Nathan Phillips – who does a reasonably good job in his first U.S outing) from Hawaii to L.A. What they haven’t counted on – and many don’t, security, for instance, were probably more interested in whether anyone was carrying liquids – were the mobsters, whom the witness is set to rat on, planting a cargo-hold full of poisonous snakes on the plane.

Not to despair though, because after all the ‘Snakes on a Tit’, ‘Snakes on a Handbag Doggie’, ‘Snakes on a Pilot’, and ‘Snakes in a Sick Bag’ moments – there’s a bad-ass mother fucker waiting for them, with one brimming can of whoop-ass in tow.

He may deliver that whoop-ass, yet “Snakes”, despite its B-blockbuster pedigree, still has a lot to live up to. After all, it was a cult hit before it was even shipped out to theatres. (Thanks to the Internet, It became an instant phenomenon from the moment the trades announced that Samuel L.Jackson declared his dedication to a project with such a name, and later made a ruckus when the studio decided they wanted to change the title to something more ‘classy’.) The good news is the hype equals the goods. This is the popcorn film of the year – fun, dumb, silly-ass, junk that will seriously entertain any unjaded – sorry, it has to be said, because no doubt there will be some who slam it because they feel they have to. And maybe that’s why the distributors decided not to show it to reviewers? Just guessing – critic.

OK, the script is dire, the dialogue even worse, and the performances mere phone-ins but what director David Ellis (“Final Destination 2”, “Cellular”) has given us is a trip back to easier, simpler times of blockbuster moviemaking – high-concept Saturday matinee fun that ain’t nobody going to nitpick afterwards. So I won’t. I just won’t. It knows its bad, but like the pretty blonde schoolgirl dating the biker – bad is sometimes cool, bad is sometimes fun, bad is sometimes, well, better than the alternative (in her case, pimply virgin without a licence, or in the film’s case, something that’s going to put your brain to work).

It’s interesting to see what Jackson has become. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great actor and still does good quality pictures, but it seems, well, he’s now making movies in tune with what he feels his “Pulp Fiction” fans want – cursing bad-ass MFs with big gun roles, you know the type – and I do wonder whether he’ll ever escape that now? In some respects, he’s gone from Ben Kingsley to Arnold Schwarzenegger overnight – with audiences now hungry to see less of his meaningful speeches, and more of his potty-mouthed quick quipping. “Snakes” is as much a show reel for that ‘other’ Sam, as it is a satire on whom he’s become. But, what the dang, if this is the new-permanent Sam, then so be it, who doesn’t like to hear Sam Jackson sprouting the magical F word as he pulls back on an oozy?

Just as long as he knows, that we know, he can do other stuff – and we’re still keen to see him gnaw into that meat. Meantime though, nothing like seeing him sucking on a piece of juicy fat crispy bacon that he’s got enough of for everyone. Everybody loves a little taste of the things that are bad for them from time to time – and “Snakes on a Plane” is some tasty crack. A first-class ticket to fun.

Bottom Line: Jackson knew what he signed up for – and to an extent, anyone that’s purchased a boarding pass to the finished thing does too. Enjoy the ride. I did.

The DVD includes an informative commentary from Sam and director Ellis, a couple of interesting featurettes (the one on the ‘internet’ craze is the best), some cut scenes and goofs, and a music video.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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