Snakes on a Plane (August 18/06)
After months of increasingly preposterous internet hype and buildup, it's certainly easy enough to forget that there's an actual movie behind the aptly (and, let's face it, brilliantly) titled Snakes on a Plane. It was at the behest of would-be fans that certain changes were made to the flick following its initial shoot - ie the film's PG-13 rating was jettisoned in favor of a far more appropriate hard R - and the end result is a silly, undeniably fun piece of work that certainly lives up to its promise (if anything, some folks might be disappointed that it's not flat-out bad).
Not surprisingly, the majority of Snakes on a Plane transpires aboard a luxury airliner and follows FBI agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) as he attempts to transport a valuable mob witness from Hawaii to Los Angeles. The flight, brimming with various disaster movie cliches (including an obnoxious snob, a woman with a baby, and a stewardess that's hours away from retirement), is interrupted midway through by dozens of poisonous snakes, which promptly begin slithering through the cabin and terrorizing the passengers.
Featuring expectedly steady direction by David R. Ellis (Final Destination 2, Cellular), Snakes on a Plane never quite adopts the vibe of pure campiness that one might've expected; aside from a few distinctly broad moments (including Jackson's now-infamous "enough is enough..." line), the whole thing generally plays out like a standard, by-the-book thriller. And although there are virtually no surprises to be had throughout the film's runtime - ie that yappy little dog was doomed right from the start - there's simply no denying the effectiveness of both the movie's premise and the uniformly engaging performances (Jackson is, of course, the primary attraction here, but the surprisingly strong supporting cast boasts appearances by scene-stealers such as David Koechner, Kenan Thompson, and Bobby Cannavale).
Having said that, the film - at 105 minutes - is simply much longer than it has any right to be, a problem that's exacerbated by the inclusion of an utterly needless subplot involving a snake expert on the ground. It goes without saying that all one really needs (and wants) out of a movie called Snakes on a Plane is footage of snakes attacking hapless passengers and Jackson occasionally kicking some ass. There's little doubt that the film would've been far more effective stripped of its superfluous moments, although the mere fact that Snakes on a Plane instantly establishes itself as more than just midnight-movie fare is reason enough to celebrate.