Snakes On A Plane

on August 18, 2006 by Annlee Elllingson
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It's at times like these that assigning a star rating -- that signal to the reader not only whether a film is worth seeing but whether a review is worth reading -- can be, well, a challenge. “Snakes on a Plane,” or “SoaP,” as it's been dubbed by a spontaneous subculture obsessed with the self-explanatory title, is a bad movie. It's a very bad movie. So bad that the filmmakers have embraced its badness, relishing in its action-movie cliches.

The plot here is obvious enough: Samuel L. Jackson plays an FBI agent escorting a witness in a high-profile murder investigation from Hawaii to Los Angeles on a commercial flight. In a bid to keep him from talking, the defendant in the case unleashes piles of reptiles on the plane. Driven mad by pheromones sprayed on the travelers' complimentary leis, the serpents attack.

Amid scenes so ridiculously soap-operatic that one wonders how Jackson and co-star Julianna Marguiles could keep from laughing long enough to get a usable shot, the action is driven by the stuff of nightmares -- the creepiest, crawliest lurkers in dark, claustrophobic spaces, coiled to strike when one least expects it. But “SoaP” is also excessively gory in the tradition of the slasher, over and over again crossing way over the line of propriety.

With its crass exploitation of post-9/11 anxiety around air travel, green-tinted tunnel “snake vision” and a line of dialogue added after the film had wrapped that's already entered Jackson's canon of memorable quotes, “SoaP” is, yes, a bad movie, but deliciously so. Like “Showgirls,” only on purpose. (Of course, it probably helps to be among a sold-out, late-night crowd hopped up on the hype and mood-altering substances.) Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Marguiles, Nathan Phillips, Rachel Blanchard, Flex Alexander and Kenan Thompson. Directed by David R. Ellis. Written by John Heffernan. Produced by Gary M. Levinsohn, Don Granger and Craig Berenson. A New Line release. Horror/comedy. Rated R for language, a scene of sexuality and drug use, and intense sequences of terror and violence. Running time: 105 min
Tags: Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Marguiles, Nathan Phillips, Rachel Blanchard, Flex Alexander, Kenan Thompson, Directed by David R. Ellis, Written by John Heffernan, Produced by Gary M. Levinsohn, Don Granger, Craig Berenson, Horror, comedy
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