In this new column, each week Dave Finch will review one of the DVDs that arrive on the shelves of Phnom Penh’s Russian Market at around the time they hit the big screens in the USA.
If you like the title you’ll love it and if you think it sounds absurd and silly you will hate it – it’s as simple as that. There probably isn’t much room in the middle here.
Lovers of B movie monster flicks like Critters and Gremlins will eat up every overdone minute as will fans of spoofs like Airplane and Naked Gun. ‘Serious’ movie fans and those who look for depth and meaning in their films should look elsewhere.
No, this is not sophisticated cinema. Yes it’s a ridiculous concept and story but director David Ellis has created a very stylish slick movie with some seriously clever action sequences and a frenzied pace that makes for a very entertaining comedy thriller.
The story is simple, a gangland murder witness Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) is being escorted to Los Angeles by FBI agent Neville Flynn (Samuel Jackson) when assassins release snakes in the cargo hold in an attempt to bring down the plane.
And boy there are snakes – hundreds of them – snakes in the drinks cart, snakes in the puke bags, snakes in the luggage compartments, snakes in the cockpit. If you can hide a snake in it they put one there. Of course, it falls to Flynn to fight off the venomous reptiles and save the plane and passengers.
Clever casting and a colorful variety of characters put some much needed depth into what would otherwise be an overly shallow plot. There is Three Gs, (Flex Alexander), a rap singer with a Howard Hughes type of germ obsession, Mercedes, Rachel Blanchard) a girly sweet passenger with her tiny dog, Troy (Kenan Thompson) one of Three Gs bodyguards and of course, FBI agent Flynn (Jackson ) who delivers some memorable set pieces as only he can , including the now famous line, ‘ I’ve had it with these motherf*cking snakes on this motherf*cking plane.’
Giving a nod to 1970s disaster movies ‘Snakes on a Plane’ also includes a tarty stewardess, a gay flight attendant and a macho sexist pilot as well as many other tongue in cheek nods to past B movies like Tremors and Slither.
Unlike many films of this Genre, ‘Snakes on a Plane’ has no pretensions and yet despite its silliness, this movie is well made and very well acted. Jackson’s performance is excellent and the absurdity is well focused and deliberate. From the original outlandish premise to the campy characters to the over the top dialogue, this is a movie that consciously and deliberately sets out to wear its silliness firmly on its sleeve. The result is a very funny; very watch able, very entertaining 105 minutes.