Star Wars fans? Forget about ‘em, seriously. I get the internet hype, and I get that there were a select few people who got a kick out of the idea of unloading thousands of snakes on a plane, but what I witnessed was more than just a typical theater experience. Either New Line Cinema paid a bunch of actors to scream, yell, cheer and laugh, or last night I entered the Twilight Zone.
I don’t need to give you the lowdown, so I’ll keep it short, basically the fans propelled this movie to greatness. Internet buzz has been hyping this film for almost a year now, which has brought a whole new breed of moviegoers to the theater. Used to seeing Darth Vader or a Storm Trooper in costume? Just wait until you see the kids with snakes wrapped around them and hissing at the screen every chance they get – there was even a row of 40-something people screaming at the screen (yes, they were the only ones who cared about the Departed trailer).
For those of you who are just plain stupid, or mentally ill, David Ellis’ film is about snakes on a plane. But a little more in depth plot centers on a ruthless assassin who unleashes a crate full of lethal snakes aboard a packed passenger jet over the Pacific Ocean in order to eliminate a witness in protective custody. The rookie pilot and frightened passengers must band together to survive.
What really makes this a difficult film to review are two factors, the first being that you have to see it with an audience to appreciate it, the second being that the movie is self aware and the studios knew exactly what they were making. Starting with the latter, it’s 100% apparent that New Line new what they were making. The dialogue in the film is a hybrid of the late ‘70s and ‘80s as the actors in the film explain what they are doing or demand things on such a hilarious level. It was almost like watching an old school Die Hard or Lethal Weapon (fuck you Mel) flick. Knowing full well that the cheese is flowing, you really couldn’t watch this at home and enjoy it, you need a theater full of immature, loud, obnoxious and anxious kids. Every little thing caused the room to erupt in cheers, laughs or just slithers. Anyone who has been to a ‘grind house’ style screening knows how much fun it is when a theater interacts with each other, this is truly an experience that you don’t want to miss.
The movie starts out incredibly slow and I was starting to wonder if the hype machine screwed me out of $24 (god damn tickets are expensive). But once the initial snake attack goes underway the shit hits the fan. Most of the snakes are CG, but what I really liked is how they gave them sort of a personality. Just having snakes wouldn’t do, which is what I was thinking going into the screening, but when I saw these digital creations it all made sense. When you don’t have a villain throughout the film, notoriously the movie won’t work, but by giving these snakes that little taste of humanity made them more of a threat.
Remember that PG-13 rating that vanished for a hardcore R? Let’s just say the snakes snack on tits, dicks and climb into any orifice it can. They eat humans whole, chew their way into people’s eye sockets and leave some of the passengers with giant disgusting welts on their bodies. And then of course there’s the surefire way to score an R rating, have Samuel Jackson scream, “That’s it, I have had it with these mother fucking snakes on this mother fucking plane!” Yes, the crowd went wild…
Although Snakes on a Plane is a full plate of cheese (more than just a portion), knowing that the studio snatched the ball and ran with it gives it instantly credibility. Full knowing what I was getting myself into made this one of the best theater experiences of my entire life, which is what makes this such a hard film to review. The movie is terrible in terms of the rules of filmmaking, but when you point out your own flaws in an organic way it’s pretty hard to say “for shame”. If your goal is to make a late-night creature feature, and you make one, don’t you deserve a gold star or a smiley face? I’d think so, which is why Snakes gets a generous seven out of 10 skull rating. But keep in mind people, if you see this in an empty theater or at home with your family you’re going to be extremely disappointed. Make sure you embark on this flight opening weekend for a night you’ll never forget. Don’t forget to bring your plastic (or real) snakes.