Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Snakes On A Plane

Snakes On a Plane
Directed by David R. Ellis
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Nathan Phillips, Julianna Margulies
Grade: D+

This cult movie, which Samuel L. Jackson signed up to star in based on its four-word title and premise, gathered an allegiance of fans fairly rapidly before its August release. Admittedly, when you hear the words 'snakes on a plane' they're not easily forgotten, and this somewhat eccentric idea has catapulted the film into what can only be described as, 'Tarantino territory'. QT, whose unapologetic desire to please a largely masculine mass audience has gained him major credibility, no doubt had a major influence on Ellis' approach to Snakes On a Plane, a film that plays to the deepest realms of masculine fantasy.

In short, Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) finds himself the target of a crazed gangland boss when he agrees to testify against him in court. But while in protective custody on a flight to L.A, 450 deadly snakes are released onto the plane causing havoc amongst its vast array of passengers.

John Heffernan and Sebastian Gutierrez, the writers of Snakes, were no doubt chuckling to themselves as they wrote this. The cinematic equivalent of a guy's wet dream, Snakes on a Plane covers most of the jokes associated with contemporary teenage comedy, mostly comprising of, well, death. Some of the fatalaties are very comical, but you can see most of this in any action-style video game, and that's essentially what Snakes is. Some may call it a kick-ass action flick, and to a degree they would be right, but it's debatable whether the originality in Snakes on a Plane stretches past these four words.

What confused me most about Snakes is how raggedly composed it is. Ellis, whose last effort Cellular felt uneven and rushed at times, makes similar mistakes here. His direction often feels artificial and pretentious, almost like he's seen one too many action movies. He doesn't seem to always be able to grasp the tone of his film firmly enough, and as a result, it all feels a little sloppy.

Samuel L. Jackson really only turns up to sell this film, and to say one or two lines that the producers of this movie hope he will iconise. He doesn't manage this. Nor does he manage to draw much interest in the film's main rescue plot, which seems to succumb all too easily to the random, sometimes humorous picking off of the plane's passengers. Everybody that has been and will go to see Snakes On A Plane knows that they won't see cinematic brilliance, but to credit it with any artistic merit would already be going too far. Where Snakes should embrace and explore its generic conventions more thoroughly it flounders, constantly feeling constrained and isolated inside its gratuitous bubble. It could and should have been a much slicker picture.

3 comments:

Kamikaze Camel said...

but... but... it was freakin' hilarious!

Cal said...

Twas gratingly dumb. How come you're never on MSN anymore Glenny? :P

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