Monday, August 21, 2006

Movie Review: Snakes on a Plane 4 Cimi 19 Yaxkin
I HAD to go see it yesterday--it was 3 Chicchan (3 Snake) and a burner day.
My review (cross posted to and my other blogs as well as Yahoo movies)

Movie Review
Snakes on a Plane
4/5 stars
I don’t hate or fear snakes. I think they should be respected and pretty much left alone. They aren’t cuddly and I don’t understand why anyone would have one as a pet.
After all the advance hype for SoaP, I expected something funny and maybe a bit awful, but aware of its awfulness (if that makes any sense)—almost a parody of itself. But the movie took itself rather seriously, although there were many laughs.
The basic plot: Sean Jones, a surfer dude out for a ride on his dirt bike, stops for a drink and witnesses a brutal murder. (The killers obligingly use each other’s names and identify the victim.) He tells no one. Somehow the killers find out who he is, but before they can silence him (even though he didn’t speak) he’s rescued by FBI Agent Neville Flynn (Samuel Jackson), “Do as I say and you’ll live” (this line becomes important). Eddie Kim, some sort of unspecified Asian thug, is known for creatively eliminating witnesses against him. The FBI takes Jones into protective custody and prepares to fly him to LA (They’re in Hawaii) to testify.
Claire, a stewardess on her last run before law school, is miffed that the FBI took over the first class cabin and forced the first class passengers into coach, where they say such stupid things as “is it safe?” and complain that because they are flying coach and not first class they’ll be late to a meeting. Stereotyped passengers include a fat lady in a tent dress, a honeymooning couple (the husband hates flying), two little boys traveling alone, a single mother, an annoying woman with a purse dog, and a supercilious business man. Also on the plane is the rapper 3G and his two-man posse. 3G hates touching others or being touched and constantly washes his hands with sanitizer. You can probably guess from the descriptions who lives and dies.
Somehow the snakes’ box has a timer that lets them loose when the plane hits cruising altitude. It takes a while for the first bite, but then they come fast—almost too fast to enjoy. The moral of this section is: stay out of airplane bathrooms.
Amusingly, some of the snakes’ scenes are shot in a kind of “snake cam” format, from the snakes’ point of view. These shots are hazy and green and reminded me of how the world looked to Frodo in the Lord of the Rings films while wearing the Ring.
The passengers and Agent Flynn get very creative with snake-killing. I will only mention a couple—hair spray torch and microwave. The hair spray torch bothered me for a couple of reasons. First, of course, is that no lighters are allowed on a plane. Second, is it wise to be shooting fire and flames around in an airplane, snakes or no snakes? However, seeing someone crawling through an access hatch full of bundled wires, looking for snakes, is pretty creepy.
I’m going to list some inconsistencies:
o The snakes rip out a bunch of wires. The people reset the breakers and magically the shut-off components came back on. This happens twice.
o The passengers pile up barriers of carts and luggage but don’t block the vents, which is how the snakes got from the cargo hold to the passenger compartment.
o They leave the pilots alone with predictable results. The moment the FBI agents realized what was happening, they should have put the witness into the cockpit with an agent to protect both the witness and the pilots from the snakes. Flynn says that if the plane crashes it doesn’t matter if the snakes bite the witness or not, but he doesn’t try to protect the pilots who are the only ones who can fly the plane!
o A big deal is made about how there are no snakes in Hawaii and no one in Hawaii that could have arranged for that many snakes on short notice. The person who did arrange it was in California and there’s no explanation of how he got the snakes to Hawaii on such short notice.
o The best snake in the movie, the boa constrictor, was shown with rows of shark-like teeth. It also growled.
o At one point, Flynn punches in the code to enter the cockpit (why would he even have it?). Later on, when the pilots don’t answer, he smashes in the door. It took him longer to find a weapon and use it than just to enter the code.
o All the first class passengers were stuck in coach. None of them entered First Class at all. Yet the overhead compartments are filled with baggage.
Don’t wait for video/pay per view/ HBO. It’s more fun to see this one with a bunch of rowdy people in the theater. (c)

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