Snakes on a Plane [2]

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Review #222 of 365
Film: Snakes on a Plane [R] 101 minutes
WIP™ Scale: (1st Review $12.25 + 2nd Review $9.75)/2 = $11.00
Where Viewed: Colorado Cinemas Chinese at Arapahoe Crossing 16, Aurora, CO
When 1st Seen: 21 August 2006
Time: 10:40 p.m.
Soundtrack: Download the soundtrack from Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes, The Academy Is..., The All-American Rejects & The Sounds - Snakes On a Plane: The Album now – or - order the CD below
Review Dedicated to: Scott P. of Victoria, BC, Canada

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
Review 2 of 2 – click here to read first review
Alright, so my first review for Snakes on a Plane was very good, very positive, very upbeat. A lot of people were left scratching their heads. "$12.25 for Snakes on a Plane?" How can this be? I had always intended a second viewing and a second review. After all, to be that good, a movie must hold up well to a second viewing. In fact, to become a cult classic, a film must hold up to dozens and dozens of viewings. Unfortunately, for Snakes or S.O.A.P. as some have taken to calling it, I am going to have to suggest that the film does not hold up well in a second viewing.

So, as this is Review #2, there can and will be plot spoilers. If you do not wish to have the plot spoiled, please do not continue reading. Read the first review only.

Well, as it turns out, S.O.A.P. has been dubbed the most internet buzzed film of all times. And, as it turns out, there were a few things the movie makers did to make that happen. First, according to Wikipedia, a blog posting was made by the screenwriter (though the screen writer mentioned in Wikipedia does not correlate to those mentioned in IMDb—suspiciously enough) that garnered a lot of feedback and ideas that were supposedly incorporated into the film. Second, New Line Cinema posted up contest calling for music and songs for the soundtrack that could be produced by anyone. Needless to say, both of these clever marketing ploys helped build tremendous buzz and helped shape the film. Accordingly, again as per Wikipedia, the studio ordered an additional 5 days of shooting in 2005 to add scenes to meet the expectations of the fans and raise the rating of the film from PG-13 to R. If this is true, it would be easy enough to figure out which scenes were added. In any case, certainly these things were great concepts for they really made the film part of a larger shared vision and brought in a fan base long before the film was released—which, I believe, it a great and unusual concept. It is only too bad that the box office numbers for S.O.A.P. were not as strong as the studio had hoped.

So, in keeping with the notion of a novel approach, I'm going to dissect why the movie doesn't hold up well to a second viewing (unlike the video for "Snakes on a Plane (Bring It!)" which I could watch a million times) and why it may not reach true cult status in simple bullet points. This also may explain why box office numbers were not as strong, and my sag as the weeks go on.

"Unfortunately, once you've seen snakes on a plane, you've seen snakes on a plane."
The Title
• Snakes on a Plane—Samuel L. Jackson supposedly fought to keep this title. I cannot blame him, it's perfect for the film. The title, however, is unlikely to draw people in who are not in on the Internet buzz. Because, quite simply, it sounds kind of preposterous. And even if you can get past that, most people use movie titles to determine if they are going to see a movie. And, if the title is Snakes on a Plane, they are not going to see it if they have (a) a fear of snakes, (b) a fear of flying, or (c) a fear of flying with snakes. Given the number of people with fears (a) and (b) that's a pretty large number of people who won't even chance a movie with that title.
• Still, it is a great, campy title. I am sure it will spawn sequels and parodies galore: Scorpions on a Ship, Black Widows on a Blimp, Poison Arrow Frogs on a Bus, etc..

The Cast
• Other that Samuel L. Jackson, who's really in this film. If you see the movie, ask yourself a few days later to recall who else is in it. So, unfortunately, the cast, other than Mr. Jackson is not a big draw.
• Why not cast a real rap star as the rap star?
• Why not get a more well known heart throb to play Sean Jones—the reason there are snakes on the plane is to kill him—such as Jared Leto or Ian Somehalder? Aussie Nathan Phillips is a fierce guy and all, but he's no Heath Ledger yet.
•And what about getting some really famous super models to play the ancillary flight attendants? Now we're talking campy.
• The same could be said for the other passengers. Why not get some really famous, sort of hoping for a comeback, you know the kinds of people that keep showing up on "The Surreal Life".

So this would have been my dream cast and one more worthy of true cult status and numerous return viewings:

Cast (in credits order)
Samuel L. Jackson....Nelville Flynn—FBI Agent / Main Character (same)
Julianna Margulies....Claire Miller—Lead Flight Attendant (same)
Jared Leto....Sean Jones—Surfer who sees murder / Main Character (new)
Janice Dickinson....Mercedes—dog-toting women (new)
M.C. Hammer....Three G's (new)
Fred Berry....Troy—one of Three G's bodyguards (new)
Keith Dallas....Big Leroy—one of Three G's bodyguards (same)
Tawny Kitaen....Grace—second lead flight attendant (new)
Alexis Arquette....Ken—male flight attendant (new)
Heidi Klum....Tiffany—female flight attendant who falls for Sean (new)
Jose Canseco....Paul—business traveler (new)
Reginald VelJohnson....John Sanders—Nelville Flynn's partner (new)
Robert Hays....Rick—co-pilot (new)
Erik Estrada....Hank Harris—FBI Agent Back in LA who must find Snake Expert (new)
Brent Spiner....Dr. Steven Price—Snake expert (new)
Tom Butler....Captain Sam McKeon—main pilot (same)
Charo.... Mrs. Bova—big lady in mumu (new)

The Plot
• To begin, the plot, upon second thought follows the same outline as an episode of "The Love Boat" running aground on "Fantasy Island". The crew arrives, the passengers board, the passengers are welcomed, the plane departs, bad stuff starts to happen on the plane, the plane nearly crashes, heroic actions ensue, all the bad or annoying people get killed, the plane lands safely, and the hero asks the heroine out for dinner and she agrees. So, that's ok for a 'B-movie'.
• Nonetheless, there are many, many problems with the plot.
••Sean is out motorcycling and happens to witness the murder of the LA DA. Rather than sitting tight until the killers are gone so they won't know he oversaw their dastardly activities, near the end he gets up, runs to his motorcycle, and speeds away narrowly escaping their gunfire. Huh? Nobody is that stupid.
••Baddies show up to kill Sean at his apartment where he's watching television mid-day. Just in the nick of time, Nelville Flynn shows up to save him. Huh? Nobody's that lucky.
••The FBI lets the entire Honolulu PD feel that they are flying Sean on a small plane back to the mainland. Within minutes of discovering that he'll really be flying on a commercial flight instead, Eddie Kim's henchmen are able to load the special crates of snakes on the plane, spray all the leis with the rage-inducing pheromone, and rig the device that blows the doors and frees the snakes all without ever being noticed by agents keeping track of the real transport plane? Huh? These are not the kinds of people I'd want to my life in the hands of.
••The FBI commandeers all of first class to transport Sean. Huh? If they are trying to keep a low profile, this certainly isn't the way to do it.
••Co-Pilot Rick enters the plane and immediately begins sexually harassing the flight attendants. Huh? Doesn't he know about class action lawsuits?
••Huh? A half full, 747 only has only 4 flight attendants?
••The first people the snakes attack are the mile-high couple in the lavatory. Nobody ever goes to check on them, and even the flight attendants who hear them screaming in there, don't bother to check on them later. Meanwhile, a dude gets killed minutes later in another lavatory. His girlfriend never goes to check on him either. Huh? Where's the love? And were do these snakes come from anyway? If they are in the cargo hold below, how do they get above the lavatories?
••Next, the plane loses its pilot. He drops down into a chamber below the cockpit to reset some breakers that have caused the plane to lose avionics. After he is found dead by the co-pilot and head flight attendant, somehow they haul him up into the cockpit, and have the FBI agents come take a look at him. Later, the co-pilot falls through this open set of doors in the floor. Huh? Why wouldn't they have shut these doors? How big is the floor of the cockpit of a 747 anyway?
••Next, the snakes start attacking everyone in the back of the plane. After a lot of screaming and yelling and running and trampling of other passengers, those that remain get to the front of the plane. Nelville instructs them to start building a wall or barrier out of suitcases to keep the snakes out. Huh? Snakes can get through cracks. They are snakes. And, even if they couldn't, the barriers are only about 4 and a half feet tall. Cannot the snakes crawl over it?
••These are predatory, poisonous snakes from all over the world. Most snakes, when confronted by another snake try to attack it to defend its territory. Not these snakes, they work together.
••How come the snake expert they find back in LA seems to know more about what to do government-wise: getting every ER in the tri-county area on alert, getting every available helicopter, etc. than the lead FBI agent?
••At one point, they are asked to get info about the snakes back to the snake expert. Mercedes offers to photograph each snake and email the pictures to the snake doctor from her phone. Huh? How is she getting a signal at 30,000 feet off a hour flight from the coast of California, when I cannot get a signal in the middle of Nebraska? I want her cell phone.
••The plane, at one point after the co-pilot is bitten and falls into the mysterious room beneath the cockpit, the plane suddenly takes a dive from 30,000 feet to around 500 feet before Nelville and Claire manage to pull the plane up. Huh? Why would the plane suddenly start to descend? Is that a natural thing? Wasn't the auto pilot engaged at the time? And why does it take two people pulling up on the sticks to get the plane to rise up? Are the controls that difficult to operate?
••At one point the passengers inflate a life raft to block the stairwell from the first to the second level to keep the snakes out. Huh? Snakes that have gotten into the over head compartments, the oxygen mask compartments, etc. are not going to be able to get past a life raft? And anyway, why are there not snakes up there but there are snakes in the cockpit which is just on the other side of the first class compartment?
••I mentioned this in my previous review, but why would Nelville resort to shooting out a couple of windows to force all the snakes out of the plane just before landing? This was the only thing he could think of? Huh?
••Is Play Station 2 flight simulator really good enough to train a person how to fly and land a 747?

Well, that is just a 'short' list of plot problems. A campy film can have a few, but not dozens and dozens. You move from campy to absurd pretty quickly. The interesting thing was that the first time I saw the film these didn't bother me. The second time, I wished I'd brought a legal pad to keep track of all the problems with the plot.

The Music
I don't want to spend a lot of time on the music. I do, however, want to bring up the song and video that accompany the ending credits, "Snakes on a Plane (Bring It!)" by Cobra Starship with Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes, Maja Ivarsson of The Sounds, and the All American Rejects or so I have been told. This song and video are simply too good for a campy movie. I've had this song in my head since last Friday. It's catchy, soulful, danceable, awesome. Not usually what you'd expect from a B-movie in other words.

Unfortunately, once you've seen snakes on a plane, you've seen snakes on a plane. There's not much else to see. And not much to get upon a return visit.

Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring Cast Members: Samuel L. JacksonJulianna Margulies
Nathan PhillipsRachel BlanchardFlex Alexander
Kenan ThompsonKeith DallasSunny Mabrey
Bobby Cannavale
Other films Directed by: David R. Ellis
CD Soundtrack
Related Book
Who Knows?

Snakes on a Plane Review-lite [150-word cap]
A title that screams campy B-movie from the 1970s; FBI agent Nelville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) escorting Hawai'ian surfer stud Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) on a plane with hundreds and hundreds of furious, venomous snakes attacking dozens of passengers 30,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean; and, finally, a summer of movies that took itself a little too seriously creating prime conditions for an unexpected blockbuster by the name of Snakes on a Plane. Anytime you get Samuel L. Jackson all fired up, you know you are in for an super-charged roller coaster ride. Go in to see this hilarious, mid-August, 1970s B-Movie for the 2000s Helmed by adrenaline master David R. Ellis with modest expectations, and you'll have an awesome time. Snakes on a Plane will be long remembered for its pre-release buzz and probably, unfortunately, cloned multiple times in the next few years. Enjoy it for what it is worth.

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