Thursday, August 24, 2006

Truth in Advertising: Snakes on a Plane

It's not everyday that a B-movie comes out with an A-list cast and A-list special effects. In fact, if it hadn't been for the simple fact that the movie is about snakes...on a plane, this would have been a summer sleeper hit.

I went in fully aware that this was the beginning of a new era for cult classics: the manufactured bomb.

Now the preceding phrase might seem redundant, as all bombs are inherently crafted by man's imperfect hand. But think about the reality of this movie. It is not political in nature, though a plane is, in a way, hijacked. It is not dramatic, though there exists within the elements of drama. Nor is this film in any way a B-movie in the usual sense, though it has been finely tuned to become a B-movie.

Let's review a little history.

Samuel L. Jackson, probably well know throughout the world as the biggest BAMF in the history of man. No, seriously, it's in Encyclopedia Britannica, check it out if you don't believe.

So Sammy comes home after a night of drinking, womanizing, and single-handedly saving the free world from losing the f-word when he discovers a script sitting on his desk. He reads the title, his cold eyes tracing the curves of each letter until he finally sets the manuscript down, a smile twisting his lips. Feel like you were there?

Sam isn't one to turn down a movie, as is shown by his appearance in Deep Blue Sea (review to come soon). He likes taking movies where he can be whatever the hell the writer dreamed of. He's been an ex-FBI agent, con man, pusher, user, and on both sides of the law so many times he has ceased to follow character guidelines. When he is in a movie, his character is simply Samuel L. Jackson with an alias.

So he goes to the audition and says, "I'm in your movie, I'm the lead, and the title stays the same or I kill you and your whole family." Well, I'm sure it went something like that.
I have to admit, I wasn't in the room. I was off somewhere else, eating pizza most likely, and drinking a Mr. Pibb because it's what I want to put in my head.

The film is made quickly and leaked on the internet. Because people on the internet are all rabid movie junkies (I mean, why else is this the fiftieth blog about SOAP you've read today?) the response is instantaneous. And what's more, the fans have requests...nay, DEMANDS!

And what's really amazing? The director listens. And reshoots scenes. And adds more content.
The result is a movie that is made by fans, for fans, of fans, and shall not perish from this earth....or maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.

Snakes on a, it really blows the mind, doesn't it. I mean, imagine being on a plane. Really, close your eyes and imagine. OK, don't close your eyes, you can't read if you do. Come on, open up. OK.
You're on a plane, cramped and scared of the millions of things that can and will go wrong. You listen to everything the stewardess says because when the engines give out and you careen toward the ocean at 600 mph, you need to know how to use your seat cushion as a flotation device.

So you're sitting uncomfortably next to a 400 lbs Norseman with the stench of Odin whose girth swells over the hand rest into your face, when all of the sudden you feel a sensation on your leg. You look down (which is difficult with the descendant of Beowulf pressing your face against the double-paned window) and see a flash of yellow scales. Horror seizes you as you realize you are smack dab in the middle of the one event no airline plans for: Snakes...on a plane.

Back to reality. This movie is a joke gone too far, but it's fun the whole way through. The characters are stereotypes, from the nervous newlyweds to the too-full-of-himself rapper to the bastardly Brit. You'll know without a doubt who will live and who will die based on the opening introductions.

There's cliches abound, because nothing says "B-movie" like a good ol' cliche. There's the flight attendant on her last trip until retirement. Some flyers decide to join that infamous club, only to learn the lesson about having sex during a B-movie. Snakes jump out at the camera and shock you. There's even "snake vision," which breaches the line that makes this movie enter B territory.

Sammy plays Agent Flinn, an FBI officer with a can-do attitude. He enters the movie with flair that only Jackson can provide, shooting off his mouth and gun as much as humanly possible. He rescues Sean Jones (played by surfer wonder Nathan Phillips) and takes him off to testify against a vicious crime lord. That's really all you need to know to get into the movie. In fact, let's forget those facts and skip right to the meat:

How do snakes end up on a plane?

Well, it just so happens that the Chinese crime syndicate has a guy that knows a guy that knows a guy who deals in snakes. Their idea of a quality hit is to release hundreds of poisonous snakes onto a jumbo jet and hope for the best.

What follows is a few hours of mindless entertainment, pointless interactions, and an ending that practically writes itself. I walked out of the theater (at the end, after the credits) with a smile on my face. If you enjoy B-style movies, and more importantly if you enjoy anything Sam L Jackson does, go see Snakes on a Plane.

It's proof that there still is some truth in advertising.

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